George, the eldest son of Charles Crawford and Mary Elizabeth, was born in the spring of 1892 at New Shildon. His father and grandfather Charles were locomotive engineers and fitters. His brother Charles was a railway clerk in 1911, and Arthur a machinist, but George aged 19 is listed in that census as a pupil teacher.
Later that year he became a student at Bede College: he joined the junior rugby team and rejoiced in the nickname Jack Johnson. He earned a first class pass in the Archbishop’s Certificate in March 1913, and upon qualification in the summer was listed in the third class in the Certificate pass list. He went on to teach at West Herrington Council School for boys.
Crawford was living at Philadelphia, Fence houses, and teaching at New Penshaw County School when he enlisted in the 325 Northern Company of the Cyclists Division at Houghton le Spring, as is mentioned in The Bede magazine of December 1915. His death was reported to his Bede comrades in the December 1917 issue of the college’s magazine.
George Crawford joined the Northern Cyclist Battalion from which Corps he was transferred to the King's Liverpool Regiment. With him were serving W. Elliott and E. Smith ('14-'16). The former writing on August 12 reported that Crawford had been killed, but he was never able to secure any further information. … In his last letter to Bede, Elliot referred to the death of his comrade Crawford which apparently took place near Ypres. 'It does seem strange' he wrote 'that he should have found his last resting place where so many other Bede lads have fallen.' Within twelve days 'Billy' had joined his comrade, and his last resting place is in the same stricken field of war.
The Bede magazine, December 1917, p.8.
The war diary of 18th Battalion King’s Regiment (Liverpool) describes the events and confusion following zero hour at 03:50 on 31 July. This marked the start of the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, itself the opening engagement of the Third Battle of Ypres, now more widely known as Passchendaele. It was not until a week later that the commanding officer of the battalion was able to make his report of 31 July in the war diary: on that day seven officers from the battalion were killed in action and seven wounded; and among the other ranks three were killed in action, forty-six were wounded and one hundred and ninety-four were missing. Private George Crawford was among them.
As his body was never found, George Crawford’s name is inscribed on the Menin Gate at Ypres. His sacrifice is also remembered in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920), the Durham County Council war memorial, the North Eastern Railway Institute memorial at New Shildon, the war memorial statue at St John’s churchyard in Shildon, and on Bede College’s 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.