Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

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Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

Post by Phil » Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:20 pm

These three soldiers have been identified thanks to everyone who contributed, and continue to. Additional information is contained within this thread. According to the unit's war diary entry for that day, one Lieutenant Webb "took charge and the baby was taken to hospital in Woking," in addition one Rusty Delmage recalls in a letter "one day we were on manoeuvres and picked up a little newborn baby girl. We took it to the hospital and they found the mother of it a couple of days later," we are working to identify these men as well.

Gunner Alonzo James "Jas" Brackett
Terrace, British Columbia
L-18085—113th Fd Bty (H), RCA
Embarked 28 Jan 1940
Born 28 Apr 1895, Herring Cove, Nova Scotia
Died 12 Jan 1981, British Columbia

*Alonzo James Brackett has yet to be confirmed by a family member.

Lance Sergeant Ernest "Ernie" Curtis
Brandon, Manitoba
H-29026—71st Fd Bty, RCA
Embarked 28 Jan 1940
Born 12 Oct 1909, Alexander, Whitehead, Manitoba
Died 7 Sep 1995, Brandon, Manitoba

Gunner Robert "Bob" Cecil Griffin
Regina, Saskatchewan
Died 4 Dec 1976, Regina, Saskatchewan

*There is some indication that the third soldier may have been Gunner Roger Harries Griffith. At this point we believe it to be Robert Griffin though conflicting articles identify both Griffith and Griffin.

Abandoned Baby Found by Canadian RCA Soldiers in Woking September 23 1941 Identification Colourized.jpg
Abandoned Baby Found by Canadian RCA Soldiers in Woking September 23 1941 Identification Colourized.jpg (432.33 KiB) Viewed 2670 times
*Colourized version without annotations available here. Colourization by WARTIMES.ca. Original black and white version available here.


Press Coverage

Baby dumped by mum at birth in hunt to find soldiers who saved her 77 years ago
A woman who was abandoned at birth on a common during the Second World War wants to trace relatives of the soldiers who saved her.

Mary Crabb was close to death when the three men on manoeuvres heard her crying and found her under a bush near Woking, Surrey.

The Canadian troops – Gunner A.J Brackett, Gunner R.C.A Griffith [sic] and Sergeant E Courtney [sic] – rescued the newborn and rushed her to hospital in an Army lorry.

“These men saved me and allowed me to have a life. I can’t thank them enough.”

At first the Royal Canadian Artillery soldiers had thought the sound they heard on Horsell Common on September 23, 1941 was a chicken squawking.

But they soon realised they had a life or death situation on their hands.

Gunner Griffith cut Mary’s umbilical cord with a knife and wrapped her in a clean shirt before the hospital dash.

Mary, from Bell Bar, Herts, said: “I don’t know how they found me.”

The gran added: “The common is huge. I was already there for two hours and turning blue. Doctors didn’t think I would survive because I was so blue and cold. It was a miracle they found me when they did.”

Mary, who went on to be adopted, found out in recent years about being abandoned as a baby and rescued.

She learned 12 years ago that she had been found by the men on the common but it wasn’t until a fortnight ago – when she came across a photo in the Mirror from 1941 – she knew what they looked like.
*This article's identifications of the soldiers we believe to be incorrect other than that of A. J. Brackett which we have yet to confirm.

Daily Mirror: Baby dumped by mum at birth in hunt to find soldiers who saved her 77 years ago
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/g ... s-13851946

Daily Mirror: Harry Curtis, 71, of Ontario, Canada, said his family will welcome Mary with open arms
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/s ... r-13877082

ITV: Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life
https://www.itv.com/news/2019-01-14/gra ... e-her-life

CBC: 'I've cried many times': WW II 'miracle' baby saved by Canadian soldiers makes long-lost connections
https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/baby-aban ... -1.4991565

The Brandon Sun: 'He was the first one to hold me'
https://www.brandonsun.com/local/he-was ... 63152.html

Landlady’s daughter contacts ‘abandoned baby’, 2008
https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local- ... by-4829574

Abandoned Mary's quest for answers, 2008
https://www.whtimes.co.uk/news/abandone ... rs-1-12568

Video Press Coverage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmtmfbEJ6T8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4_dvRNNJFU
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Re: Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

Post by Ludford 101 » Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:40 pm

Undoubtedly this story made the Canadian press at the time.

From the Regina Leader-Post 6 November 1941
mary crabb.png
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Regina Leader-Post 5 November 1941
mary crabb 2.png
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Re: Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

Post by Phil » Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:57 pm

Those 1941 articles have different names, though close. Gunner Griffin rather than Griffith and Sgt Curtis rather than Courtney.

Edited to remove possible matches that Ludford pointed out enlisted too late to be the men in question.
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Re: Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

Post by Ludford 101 » Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:48 pm

Unfortunately it won't be any of those men. None had enlisted by the time these events happened.

Calgary Herald of 8 October 1941 helps to ID two of the three.
calgary herald 8 october 1941.png
calgary herald 8 october 1941.png (247.71 KiB) Viewed 2987 times
Ernest Curtis is all over the Brandon Sun but as it only goes to 1977 no obituary. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/123 ... est-curtis

His son's obituary confirms his father's death:

http://memorieschapel.com/book-of-memor ... ituary.php

Robert C. Griffin is easier to ID: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/284 ... c_-griffin
griffin.jpg
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Re: Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

Post by Phil » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:52 am

I have emailed an individual that seems to be one of Ernest Curtis' Granddaughters, we'll see if she can confirm.
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Re: Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

Post by Phil » Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:14 am

Alissa Reid confirmed that she is indeed Ernest Curtis' Granddaughter and that he was one of these three men,
Hi there. This is most definitely my grandpa. He told this story often and always wondered what happened to the baby. We have the original picture I believe. My grandmother is still alive and I’m sure could provide more details. My dad and grandpa have passed but my uncles and aunts could also help you.
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Re: Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

Post by Ludford 101 » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:18 am

Great work, Phil! I hope you are planning on emailing the reporter and letting them know we have two of them confirmed? Something similar happened on WW2Talk some years ago.

I'm not having any luck with Brackett. Either the AJ is incorrect or, more than likely, he passed away somewhere other than Regina.

Hopefully Temujin has the nominal rolls for this unit and we can try again.

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Re: Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

Post by Phil » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:20 am

Ludford 101 wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:18 am
Great work, Phil! I hope you are planning on emailing the reporter and letting them know we have two of them confirmed? Something similar happened on WW2Talk some years ago.

I'm not having any luck with Brackett. Either the AJ is incorrect or, more than likely, he passed away somewhere other than Regina.

Hopefully Temujin has the nominal rolls for this unit and we can try again.
I have sent notes to a number of the reporting outlets, I have also asked Alissa how she, and her relatives, would like to proceed.
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Re: Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

Post by Phil » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:28 am

I may have found Robert C. Griffin's wife, Pauline's, obituary,

https://paragonfuneralservices.com/trib ... tuary.html

Which lists surviving relatives.
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Re: Grandmother Mary Crabb hoping to find World War II heroes who saved her life

Post by Ludford 101 » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:34 am

robert cecil griffin obit regina leader-post 6 december 1976.png
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