News From The Past Sligo War Stories
News from the past is a project to commemorate the people of Sligo who fought in WW1. This blog will be used to share these stories.
Thomas Crofton was born on the 3rd October 1889 at Longford House, Beltra near Ballisodare. He graduated from Trinity in 1912 as a civil engineer and went to work in Canada. On the 5th August 1914 when war was declared he immediately signed up with the Canadian Scottish Infantry as a Private. Within months he was undergoing training in England to join the British and French forces in Flanders. In December he applied for a commission with the Connaught Rangers and was accepted. By August 1915 he was appointed a Captain and got posted overseas for the first time where he was involved in numerous military actions.
At 4.40pm on the 8th March 1917 two German raiding parties got into the trenches of the Battalion on the left of the Rangers position. The Rangers formed a defensive flank and Captain Tom Crofton lead the counter attack. The German raiding parties were driven out, the line was held and disaster was averted. Captain Tom Crofton was awarded the Military Cross on the 27th March 1917 for his actions.
His medal was donated by his niece Catherine Crofton to the Connaught Rangers Association and is in display at Kings House, Boyle, Co. Roscommon.
On the 21st Of March Captain Tom Crofton and his company were in the village of Villers Faucon with the rest of the 6th Battalion when the village came under intensive and accurate enemy fire. It was the beginning of a massive German breakthrough of enemy lines. Captain Tom Crofton was ordered to the nearby Near Ronssoy Wood and to engage the enemy. Contact was made and at 3.45pm the Connaught Rangers were ordered to counterattack.
A Company led by Captain Tom Crofton was to attack on the left with D Company on the right along a sunken road to the west of Ronssoy Wood. With little or no accurate intelligence on the strength of the enemy and in the midst of a terrific whirlwind of shell and rifle fire he led his men toward the Wood. A Coy was soon flanked on both sides by thousands of enemy troops and the entire Company was annihilated. Captain Tom Crofton MC was killed leading his men forward and his body was never recovered.
He was 28 years old and single at the time of his death. His body, like many of his men, was never recovered. He is remembered on Panel 77 on the Pozieres Memorial on the Somme along 57 enlisted men of the 6th Battalion Connaught Rangers who fell on March 21st 1918 and have no known grave.
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