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FRANK CROZIER’S MEDALS & AWARDS

This is my first ‘Topic’ posting on the Forum so perhaps you will bear with me.

BRIGADIER GENERAL FRANCIS PERCY CROZIER

C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., Croix de Guerre avec Palm (France)Commanding 40th Division

Late 9th Royal Irish Rifles, 107th (Belfast) Brigade, 36th Ulster Division

Badge of a Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Military Division Badge of a Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George

Distinguished Service Order G.V.R.

Queen’s South Africa Medal 1898-1902 clasps, Cape Colony, Tugela Heights, Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal, Laing’s Nek, Wittebergen Lieut. Manch. Regt.

King’s South Africa Medal 1901-1902 clasps, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902*

Ashanti Medal 1900 (no clasp) Lieut. W.A.F.F.*

Africa General Service Medal 1902-1956 clasp N. Nigeria 1903 Lieut. 2/N.N. Regt.

Natal Rebellion Medal 1906 clasp 1906 Capt. Royston’s Horse* 1914-15 Star Maj. R. Irish. Rif.

British War Medal 1914-20 Brig-General

Victory Medal 1914-18 MID bronze oak leaf emblem

Victoria Jubilee Medal 1897*

Edward VII Coronation Medal 1902*

French Croix de Guerre avec Palm (Palm*)

*Medals to which he has dubious entitlement/not entitled!

Of the 10 campaign and commemorative medals he wore, 5 were either re named or not entitled.

The medal group above, comprising Honours and Awards, Campaign, Jubilee and Coronation medals, was that worn by a very controversial character in both military and civilian life – Brigadier-General Frank Crozier. But all is not what it seems and the fascinating story of his medals, official and unofficial, encapsulates the man’s general, very complex approach to his self aggrandisement.

When it came to his actual and supposed military achievements, was it vanity, or a possibly a need to impress his contemporaries that his diminutive size was not a bar to a large group of campaign medals on his chest? Whichever way, when it came to the medals he wore, he has been proven to be a liar, a cheat and a defacer of other men’s awards.

On the other hand, he was a martinet - and a very successful one at that when it came to leading men, as illustrated by his brilliant record throughout WW1; it has been quoted that as a Brigade Commander ‘his share in the capture of Bourlon Wood was an epic feat of arms’. But seemingly he was never a ‘popular’ man, with his men, his officers, his military superiors. Certainly not by the mother of his namesake, Rifleman James Crozier’s who he had executed ‘at dawn’, or the Irish or the Portuguese Government and latterly not with King George V., who wanted him prosecuted for sedition.

From my personal involvement in Crosiers medals, the story of his medals falls primarily into three parts.

Part One

Although Frank Crozier sported this fine group of medals on his chest (when not in pawn) until his dying day, as seemingly befitted a man of his military prowess, the group never really represented his true military career. At the time of his death, the only genuine, authorized campaign medals and commemorative medals issued to him, that he wore, were incredibly,

1914-15 Star Maj. R. Irish. Rif.

British War Medal 1914-20 Brig-General

Victory Medal 1914-18 MID bronze oak leaf emblem

The remainder of the campaign medals were ALL renamed; the Commemorative medals he had no claim too but ironically the honours and awards were completely valid.

The above group, including all the renamed medals was sold by Crozier’s virtually destitute widow (his second wife Grace) sometime after his death in August 1937. His medals and awards, together with his miniatures were possible the only thing of value he left to his wife. Aware that he may be dying, the penniless Crozier bizarrely passed all proceeds of his publications (essentially his entire estate i.e. his then only source of wealth/income) to his longstanding ‘Bat-man/Man-servant’ David Starrett, 9th R.I.R, who had shared his ‘tent’ since the training camp at Donard Lodge, Co. Down in 1915. His group of miniature medals was subsequently passed to his eldest daughter, Mary, then living in Canada and later sold. They are currently in a private collection.

In 1939, Grace, then living at 33 Westbourne Terrace, London W2, applied to King George VI at Windsor Castle for an ‘officers widow’s pension’ but her application was turned down. The reason given was that her marriage to Frank had taken place in 1921 - after Crozier had left the Army as a serving officer. (See PRO files)

Later, in 1950, Grace who still lived in a state of poverty, applied to the Royal Military Benevolent Fund as did her second daughter Hester. They were awarded the princely sum of £10.

In February1958, Grace, died still in a state of destitution as illustrated by an extract from a letter by Mrs Hester Pritchet nee Crozier. 5.9.1984. (aged 70) (see PRO files)

“She died in poverty in the mid 1950’s…she was so poor she had to sell my father’s medals…the miniatures came to me. I have sent them out to Canada to my sister (Mary). She has six children to carry on the family whereas I have none

The medals sold by Mrs Crozier next appeared in1982 when the group, as described above (original 1914-15 Star trio together with the renamed campaign medals noted in the catalogue) were put up for sale in Sotheby’s Medal Auction, July 1982, where they were purchased by a medal collector, Mr Frank Meredith, formerly of the Lancashire Constabulary

Part Two

We jump to 2001, when Frank Crozier’s original, early campaign group of medals was discovered in a basement safe by the son of a deceased 90 odd year old Canadian medal collector.

How did Frank Crozier’s medals come to be in a safe in Canada? My conjecture is that the medals were sold or pawned by Crozier or his first wife, Ethel, after the couple had emigrated to Canada in August 1909. This possibly in desperation, because at this time in his life. Crozier had been forced to resign his Commission twice, for passing numerous dud cheques in the officers mess, was a bankrupt and up to his ears in debt, had a drink problem (as did his wife) and had ended up in a Canadian jail for brawling. He’d tried farming – unsuccessfully - so went off in January 1910 on a year’s trip trapping on the Hudson River, leaving his wife, with virtually no money, in rooms in Winnipeg. When he returned from his trip, he found he had a ‘month old’ daughter Mary Elizabeth, born 4th December 1910 in Winnipeg, which obviously caused further consternations. A little later, money was raised by their respective families to enable the three to return to England.

I think the Crozier medals remained in Canada, possibly unclaimed in a Winnipeg pawn shop. I say pawn shop, because I think Crozier’s medals meant more to him than anything else; they were the visible evidence of his whole mantra.

However, it would appear from a further application submitted to the Canadian High Commission that the Croziers had some intention of retuning to Canada and maybe Frank had visions of redeeming them?

The deceased Canadian collector’s son put the medals up for auction at Spink Medal Auction, London in 2001 where they were purchased by me; at that time, totally unaware of the 1982 sale. My interest was primarily in the AGS which would have fitted nicely in with other items that I had in my collection. The story of ‘Frank Crozier’ was at that time unknown to me until I read the résumé in the catalogue.

Queen’s South Africa Medal 1898-1902 clasps, Cape Colony, Tugela Heights, Relief of Ladysmith, Transvaal, Laing’s Nek, Wittebergen Lieut. Manch. Regt.

King’s South Africa Medal 1901-1902 clasps, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902*

Ashanti Medal 1900 (no clasp) Lieut. W.A.F.F.*

Africa General Service Medal 1902-1956 clasp N. Nigeria 1903 Lieut. 2/N.N. Regt.

Victoria Jubilee Medal 1897*

Edward VII Coronation Medal 1902*

It was noted in the sale that the Ashanti Medal was described rather ambiguously as ‘officially renamed’. Crozier, en route to Nigeria had called in to Cape Castle for one day only and that after the Ashanti campaign had finished. (Crozier does not appear on any Ashanti Medal Roll). Spink also omitted to mention the authenticity of the KSA, which was also rather ‘dubious’ (Crozier was in Nigeria from January 1901). It was also later realized that Crozier was not entitled to either the Victoria Jubilee Medal 1897 or the Edward VII Coronation Medal 1902. It was a pattern that was to become very apparent with Crozier’s very personal interpretation as to which medals he THOUGHT he was entitled.

Part Three

Immediately after the Spink 2001 auction, Frank Meredith, 1982 purchaser of Crozier’s WW1 Trio etc., contacted me (via David Erskine-Hill, then in charge at Spink) very kindly offering to forward all of his research on Crozier. Frank Meredith I quickly learned, was a thoroughly decent and genuine individual who bent over backwards to be helpful.

Although we never met, we built up a friendly relationship over the next few years and both agreed that it would be great, at some stage, to unite the two groups

Through our liaison, the true duplicity of Frank Croziers penchant for self aggrandisement became blatantly obvious. In the 1982 group, all five campaign medals had been stripped and renamed and the Jubilee and Coronation medals ‘added’. The ‘palm’ of the Croix de Guerre was also possibly an ‘addition’

In 2003 I learned that Frank Meredith was very poorly and our correspondence stuttered to a halt. In March 2004 I learned from Frank’s son Paul, (an ex WOII, Royal Horse Guards) that his Dad had sadly passed away but one of his last requests was that Paul should contact me.

June 2004 – Frank Meredith very graciously fulfilled his promise to unite the group and Frank’s part of Crozier’s group was offered for sale to me by Paul. The whole group, together with decorations, were for the very first time, UNITED – not ‘REUNITED’ - because at no time had they all been together.

Postscript

At what stage did Crozier become a consummate liar concerning his medals? I personally think at quite an early period in his military career. I have two photographs of him as a Lieutenant (promoted Captain March 1904) with the N.N.R. wearing ONLY his QSA ribbon – no Ashanti, no Jubile,e no Coronation ribbons! He left the N.N.R. in September 1905 and returned to the 2nd Manchesters (which he’d left in January 1901) in 1906 and I would imagine that their officers mess, with officers he had served with in 1900, would be the last place to display a lengthy ribbon bar with ‘added embelishments’.

Now in military limbo, Crozier claims to have sailed for Natal in 1906, there to command a section of Royston’s Horse in suppression of the Zulu uprising. Absolutely no evidence of his assertions have been found – he does not appear on any Natal Medal Roll but decided to award himself a (re named) Natal medal to add to his tally.

I think it may have been at this time, when he had been forced to resign his original Commission because of passing dud cheques to all and sundry and accepting a Commission in the the Special Reserve of the 3rd Battalion The King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment, that he thought to impress the ‘non regulars’ with his tales of daring-do and a fine group of medals to support his stories.

Which ever way, he managed to bluff his way through the Royal Lancs. the Canadian Veterans, the UVF, the Shankhill Road Boys, the whole of WW1, Lithuania and the ‘Auxies’. He even extended the bluff when he jumped onto the Pacifist bandwagon with the likes of the Rev. Dick Sheppard. But I wonder if he was able to resist the temptation to sport his medals/miniatures at Regimental reunions, functions etc., with the credibility and gravitas that they gave him - or did he take them off in deference to his latest cause?

As the old adage goes…..

‘If you’re going to lie – do it with conviction!!

Les Nicoll

PPS

May I say a huge thank you to Charles Messenger, whose absolutely brilliant biography of Frank Crozier’s life, ‘Broken Sword’, has enlightened and helped me enormously?


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Sepoy

A Fascinating story. I am delighted that his medals - renamed et all - have finally been united.

Sepoy

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ianw

He really was a cad and a bounder.

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ritterk

He must have been a convincing liar in his military career to attain the rank of Brigadier General. Didn't he resign in disgust at the actions of some of the Auxies?....his only redeeming feature perhaps!!! Would love to see a photograph posted of his medal groups.

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exuser1

Superb story on the medals.

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Lancashire Fusilier

Les,

What a great story, and what an interesting, and utterly disreputable, man this Frank Crozier was.

Having peaked all our interests with your fascinating tale, what about a photograph of Crozier's medals ?

Regards,

LF

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topgun1918

Yes, post a picture, please.

Having PIQUED my interest, I'll climb the PEAK to take a PEEK. ^_^

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Anneca

A fascinating story Les and welcome to the Forum. I agree it would be interesting to see a photograph of these.

Anne

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seaforth78

I thought so, no photos.....sounded like a BS story to me from how he wrote.

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David Filsell

Very good new biography by Charles Messenger tells the man's full and fascinating story.

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