Hon James Herbert Croft

Hon James Herbert Croft

Regiment:Royal Artillery, 70 Medium Regiment
Service Number:85526
Cemetary/Memorial: Cesena War Cemetary (VI.D.9.)
Awards:War Medal 1939 – 1945
1939 - 1945 Star
Military Cross

Born on 24th May 1907 in London, Captain Croft died on 15th August 1941, aged 34, whilst training in Scotland with No. 1 Commando. He served in the Battle of Norway and others.

The 11th Baronet Croft, he was the only son of Sir Herbert Archer Croft, 10th Baronet (1868-1915, died in WWI at the Dardanelles) and Lady Katherine Agnes Croft (nee Parr) (1878-1966) of Rushford Sway, Hampshire. He had an older sister, Elenor.

James was a pupil at St Ronan’s from 1917 to 1920. He gained a prize for the best garden with R J H Thomas in 1920. He was confirmed in the school chapel by Bishop Montgomery, Secretary to the Lambeth Conference. He returned to visit the school in 1925, 1927 and 1931.

He went on to Eton where he was in T.F. Cattley house. Whilst here he won a prize for Mathematics and a cap for coxing the second pair in the Lower Boys Pulling Race. He also coxed Mr. Catley’s First House IV in the Bumping Races. He went on to cox the Junior House Four, the winning “ Novice Eight,” and the pair that was second in the “ Novice Punting”, he was also second in his heat in the Sculling. In 1925 he went on to cox the Eton Eight at Henley. He also played for football for his House.

In 1925 he went up to Brasenose College, Oxford University, where for three years in succession (1926-8) James was cox of the Oxford eight. In 1927, The Times reported that he “steered a beautiful course throughout.” Regrettably, they did not win the annual boatrace during his tenure. He also enjoyed various ski-ing successes in Switzerland.

1929 Poster

Cambridge leading the 1928 boatrace

In 1934 he was appointed Joint Master of the North Hereford Foxhounds and in 1935 T reported that he rode the entire season with a broken arm in a sling.

In 1935 he organised a search for the racehorse, Latham Lad. The horse, after throwing its rider in the Beginners’ Hurdles at Plumbton, bolted and was recaptured three days later after a search of the Downs.

Captain Croft died at an Ayrshire hotel soon after he had been found wounded in his room. Shortly before he had asked for a rag with which to clean his revolver (as reported in The Dundee Courier, 18th August 1941). The heir to the baronetcy was his uncle, Hugh Matthew Fiennes Croft, aged 57, who lived in New South Wales Australia.

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