Lieut-Col Claude Raul Champion de Crespigny DSO

Born 19 Sep 1878 died 15 May 1941. Son of Sir Claude 4th Baronet and Louisa Margaret McKerrall. The 4th Baronet was a noted balloonist who crossed the North Sea in a balloon in 1883. The younger Claude succeeded to the title of 5th Baronet in 1935 and was married to the daughter of Charles Percy Sykes of West Ella Hall Yorkshire. He was CO of the 2nd battalion Grenadier Guards at the Somme and commanded them until 22 Sep 1917 when he replaced Brigadier-General G D Jeffreys as commander of the 1st Guards Brigade. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and after the war was awarded the CB and CMG. The family home was Champion Lodge, Maldon in Essex. An article in the Dominion, a New Zealand newspaper, dated 29 Jan 1918, headlined 'The Perfect Soldier' told of his distaste for staff work and his request to be returned to his battalion. He was:

'One of those commanding officers who believe in being in the thick of the fighting, he used to lead his men over the top with a 'loaded stick' as a weapon. In one of the recent engagements in Flanders he charged a Hun machine-gunner who was scattering death right and left with his stream of bullets. With one mighty swing of his stick he broke the neck of the Hun, and the regiment went on. The Hun's gas mask and steel helmet are in England now hanging on the walls of Brigadier-General de Crespigny's Essex home among innumerable trophies of the chase, grim relics of a man whose hobby is fighting.'

The article goes on to list his sporting accomplishments in steeple-chasing, boxing, cricket, shooting and aquatic sports.

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by Stephen Luscombe