Biography

Birth date: 28 March 1891
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Mittagong
Death date: 27 July 1916
Death place: At sea
Final rank: Private
Service number: 1343 - First World War, 1914-1918
2343 - First World War, 1914-1918
Unit: 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion

John Hector Croft was born in Mittagong, New South Wales and grew up in Bulli. At the outbreak of the First World War he was working as a labourer, was 23 and unmarried. Enlisting on 3 November 1914, he joined one of the first Infantry units raised - the 3rd Infantry Battalion, embarking five months later on HMAT Derflinger, with the 2nd reinforcements. The 3rd Battalion was involved with the initial landings at Gallipoli on 25 April and it was at Gallipoli that Croft had an amazing escape. Croft recalled the incident in a letter home to a friend. Talking about the landing, he wrote of seeing his mates being shot and of being peppered with shrapnel. During the battle, Croft was shot - the bullet passing through his arm, which slowed it down. Fortunately for Croft the bullet was stopped by his pocket book - a gift from his friends - before reaching his heart. Croft noted he had been on the shore only seven hours before being hit.
During his recovery in Egypt, Croft learned that his arm had been badly damaged and he was almost sent home to Australia. Before this could take place, Croft was moved to another hospital where he underwent surgery to fix his arm and was able to continue his service with the 3rd Battalion. After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the battalion returned to Egypt. In March 1916, it sailed for France and the Western Front. From then until 1918 the battalion took part in operations against the German Army, principally in the Somme Valley in France and around Ypres in Belgium.
The battalion's first major action in France was at Pozières on the Somme in July 1916. It was during this battle that Croft's luck ran out. He received a severe gunshot wound and was evacuated by ambulance train. This time, sadly, he did not recover and died on-board the hospital ship St George, crossing from France to England. It was 27 July 1916. He was 25 years old. While Croft was initially listed as being buried at sea, he was in fact taken ashore and buried at Netley Military Cemetery, Hampshire, United Kingdom. Mourned by his family, and friends, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Rolls and Awards

Roll of Honour

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of Death: 27 July 1916
  • Unit: 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 11 February 1915
  • Place of embarkation: Sydney

Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files

  • Rank: Private
  • Unit: 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion

Photograph

P05955.001

Pre enlistment portrait of 2343 Private (Pte) John Hector Croft, 3rd Battalion, of Mittagong, NSW. A drover prior to enlistment, he embarked with the 2nd Reinforcements on HMAT Seang Bee (A48) on 11 February 1915. Pte Croft died at sea on board the Hospital Ship "St George" after receiving gunshot...

P05955.001

Private Record

Croft, John Hector (Private, b.1891 - d.1916)

Collection relating to the First World War service of 2343 Private John Hector Croft, 3rd Battalion, Gallipoli, France. Collection consists of a 3 page letter written by Croft to his brother Charles, describing the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and the wounds he received on that first day.... Maker: Croft, John Hector

PR82/107 (With records)

Croft, John Hector (Private, b.1891 - d.1916)

Collection relating to the First World War service of 2343 Private John Hector Croft, 3rd Battalion, Gallipoli. Collection consists of a pocket book pierced by a Turkish bullet at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. The bullet penetrated Croft's arm and lodged in the pocket book. Also included is a... Maker: Croft, John Hector

PR03842 (With records)

Digitised Collection

Letters from John Hector Croft to his family, 1915

Letter and postcard relating to the First World War service of 2343 Private John Hector Croft, 3rd Battalion. The letter was written by Private Croft to his brother, Charles, and describes the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and the wounds he received on that first day. Also included is a...

RCDIG0001000

Photographs of John Hector Croft

Photographs relating to the First World War service of 2343 Private John Hector Croft, 3rd Battalion. The first photograph shows Private Croft in uniform, while the second shows his grave at Netley Military Cemetery in Southampton. Private Croft died onboard a hospital ship on 27 July 1916 from...

RCDIG0001001

Pocket book of John Hector Croft, 1914-1915

Pocket book relating to the First World War service of 2343 Private John Hector Croft, 3rd Battalion, AIF. The pocket book was kept by Private Croft throughtout 1915 at Gallipoli. On the 25 April 1915, the pocket book was pierced by a Turkish bullet which had penetrated Croft's arm and then...

RCDIG0000354

Copy of photograph of John Hector Croft, n.d.

Copy of a photograph relating to the First World War service of 2343 Private John Hector Croft, 3rd Battalion, AIF. This is a copy of a pre-war photograph of Private Croft.

RCDIG0000355

Letter from John Hector Croft, 5 May 1915

Letter relating to the First World War service of 2343 Private John Hector Croft, 3rd Battalion, AIF. The letter was written by Private Croft to his friend, Mr Frank Catt, on the 5 May 1915. In it, Private Croft recounts the incident in which his pocket book was pierced by a Turkish bullet at...

RCDIG0000356

Timeline

Date of birth 1891-03-28
Date of embarkation 1915-02-11
Date of death 1916-07-27