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The Channel Islands and the Great War
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The Crousaz Family of St Peter Port

Isaac Crousaz de Prelaz was born at Lausanne, Switzerland on 30 Sep 1760 and came to Guernsey some time later in the 18th century, where he settled, married and raised a family. Isaac's son, George Crousaz, was born on 3 Oct 1788 and died 27 July 1823.

The family had by that time dropped the surname de Prelaz. George had a son, William Crousaz who owned a drapery business in the High Street. He was also organist at the Town Church.

His son, William de Prelaz Crousaz was born circa 1852 at St Peter Port, Guernsey. He became a junior partner in, and later succeeded his father as the owner of the business. William (Jnr) was a member of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry and was a keen shooter, winning a gold medal in 1882, then again in 1884, 1885, 1886, and 1888.

Town Church, St Peter Port

Town Church, St Peter Port

William de Prelaz Crousaz and his wife, Emma had three sons, Henry W. Crousaz, Augustus George Crousaz and Cecil Francis Crousaz and a daughter Mary.

The Elizabethan
All three sons fought in the Great War. Henry William Crousaz, (also known as Harry) was born on 23 July 1879, and attended Elizabeth College from 1890 to 1895 then went to Switzerland to study French. Returning to Guernsey he became a tomato grower, an occupation in which he was still involved in 1914. Henry was a 2nd Lt in the Militia in 1914, and he transferred to become a 2nd Lt in the 2nd (HS) Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment in 1916. The London Gazette of 26 July 1917 his promotion to Lt on 1 Jan 1917. He then transferred to the 2nd RGLI in 1918, and was attaché to HQ Staff from 1918 to 1919, where he held the rank of Acting Captain. He was also involved in parish duties in St Peter Port, holding the posts of Procureur and Constable at various times.

HMS St Vincent

HMS St Vincent

Augustus George Crousaz was born on 13 April 1884, and was educated at Elizabeth College. He joined the Royal Navy on 1 Jun 1900 having gained a place in open competition and was certified as qualified by the Civil Service Commissioners. He then spent the next four years as an Engineer Cadet at the Training College, Devonport and on 1 July 1904 joined His Majesty's Fleet as a Midshipman. During 1905-06 he was at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, on a course of study that he passed "very creditably". After serving on various ships, on 1 Feb 1914 Augustus was promoted Engineer Lieutenant Commander. In June 1915 he came ashore and took up an appointment at the Admiralty where he was to stay for nearly two years before moving to the destroyer HMS Nepean in July 1917. However he was hospitalised on 22 Sep 1917, and following his release from hospital on 1 Nov he was re-surveyed at the Admiralty and found fit for service in ships other than destroyers. He continued to serve during the Great War and on 28 Feb 1918 was posted to Chatham Dockyard as 2nd Assistant Manager where he was promoted Engineer Commander with seniority from 1 May 1919.

After a distinguished career, on 26 Sep 1934 Augustus Crousaz was promoted Engineer Rear Admiral and in 1934 was appointed Assistant Engineer-in-Chief of the Royal Navy. He was invited to the Coronation of King George VI at Westminster Abbey June 1936 and was appointed a Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (Military) (CB) on 11 May 1937. He retired at his own request on 11 Sep 1939 having reached the age of 55, but was recalled and reappointed to President and re-employed as Deputy Engineer-in-Chief through to the end of the Second World War when he was once again released and reverted to the Retired List on 14 Nov 1945 in his 62nd year.

The third son was less fortunate than his brothers. Cecil Francis Crousaz was born on 7 December 1888 and, like his brothers, was educated at Elizabeth College. He held the Gymnastics, Boxing, and Swimming cups for several years, and was also a member of the College Shooting Team. He joined the Sandhurst Company of Cadets at Woolwich in 1908 and was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, 38th Regiment (South Staffordshire Regiment) on 6 November 1909.

Cecil was promoted Lieutenant on 28 March 1912, and served in both the 1st and 2nd Battalions of his Regiment in South Africa and Gibraltar. In 1913 he won the Army Officers Featherweight Boxing Championship at Aldershot. A popular officer and a noted leader in his regiment he was an early casualty of the war as he was killed leading his men into action at Zonnebecke, near Ypres on 31 October 1914.

He was said to have been buried at Hooge, but the grave must have been lost as he is now commemorated on the Menin Gate at Eiper (Ypres), along with more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.

Cecil Francis Crousaz Memorial

Cecil Francis Crousaz, press noticex

Cecil Francis Crousaz
With grateful thanks to Howard Chamberlain for his research into the Crousaz family

© 2007 Liz Walton

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