Pinchbeck man remembers great uncle

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This month one hundred years ago a Pinchbeck man’s great uncle died on the Somme in France.

He was Private Norris Sydney Cropley, whose parents lived on Glenside South at West Pinchbeck.

His brother, Albert Edward, who was in the Cavalry, eventually became grandfather to Baden Sharman, who lives in Pinchbeck.

Baden says his great uncle’s name is on the memorial to the Somme fallen at Pinchbeck (pictured right) as well as being on a war memorial in France.

Norris was 23 when he died in battle.

Baden says before war broke out the entire family, including father Edward and mother Eliza, had planned on going to Australia. They had got everything ready and saved £10 each to go.

When it came to it, Baden’s grandmother wouldn’t go and so Norris went out to Australia on his own.

In online Australian records Norris is described as being a mechanic.

When war was declared Norris joined up and left Sydney in April 1916 aboard SS Ceramic, a British ocean liner that had been requisitioned as a troopship.

He served with the 56th Australian Infantry Battalion. A few months later, on December 2, 1916, he died on the battlefields of the Somme and has no known grave.

Baden said: “His medals were posted to his mother and father in West Pinchbeck and came down the generations to me.”

On the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme department in northern France are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and have no known grave.

• The ship that Norris travelled on went on to have a fascinating career, serving as a troopship once again in the Second World War until she was hit by torpedo in 1942.

The seas were so rough just one man was rescued and taken prisoner by the U-boat: no other occupants of the lifeboats survived.