Centenary of Armistice Day
On Sunday 11.11.2018 we will be celebrating the centenary of Armistice Day when at the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918 the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I took effect. Sr Cecelia Creigh has shared with us something of her father’s involvement in that terrible war.
Thomas Creigh, father of Srs Cecelia and Norah (RIP) and their siblings Aidan, Margaret and Tom, was born on 6th February 1895 in Ashington, Northumberland UK, the second of eleven children. He started work at the age of 13 and was a 19 year old miner at the biggest pit in the UK, when World War I broke out.
He joined the British Army on 1 April 1914 the day England declared war on Germany, becoming a member of the 6th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. They landed in France on 15 April 1915 and Thomas fought until he was captured in May 1918. He spent the rest of the war in Stendal Prison about 90 km from Berlin. It was from there that he wrote to his family:
Dear Mother, Father and all
Well, no doubt you will be very anxious about me. Such a long time since you had a letter from me. I hope they have let you know before now that I am a prisoner of war. Such is my luck, but it may be for the best. Who knows?
I am keeping all right in health but I bet you would see a change in me now. I sent you a card away last Sunday. I hope you received it. I have also written to Aunt Grace. I hope she has told you all.
Well, how is father getting along now? I wonder if he has any spare Twist (tobacco or cigarettes). I have not seen a smoke for four months. Try and get some for me. The men will help you I know. If you like to send as a parcel I will be your faithful dog forever. If you inquire at the Post Office they will give you instructions as to how to do it, then if there are any prisoners’ fund in Newbiggen let them know your lad is here. I am in a hole for everything – socks, soap is a thing of the past, smokes. Send them in bags and I will eat them. Then there are dog biscuits or any kind of hard biscuits, Quakers Oats, oatmeal, syrup, anything I can make a meal of. I am nothing but a bag of bones. Do you want any for your broth? I have plenty of company on my back (fleas, lice, etc). Oh I am all right here. You will be pleased to hear from me, and I hope this finds you all well at home. John, I hope he is all right. I had a dream about John being wounded in fact.
I have been dreaming about you all, and oh the good feeds I have had in my sleep and then wake up scratching. Well I hope the time is not far short when you have the flags flying for us coming home. I am sure tired of this war. I hope you will write straight back for I am anxious. My address is on the front left half of the envelope.
Give my best to my friends. Don’t forget the food, right. God bless you all and my best love and good wishes.
Your ever loving son
On the day the war ended Thomas was taken to a clinic for treatment of carbuncles. He escaped by climbing a tall fence which happened to be that of a convent. The Sisters there cared for him and eventually helped him find his way home alive, but only just. Thomas was one of only eleven members of his battalion who returned from the war.
He migrated to Australia in 1925, married Margaret Donohoe in Kurri Kurri in 1926, and raised five children in West Wallsend. He died in Morisset in 1956.