Service no. M2/150639
Private, Army Service Corps, 618th M.T. Coy.
Died of cerebral malaria (“due to field operations”) on 23 May 1917, aged 39
CWGC: “Son of Richard and Mary Ann Crabb; husband of Alice Beatrice Crabb, of 19 Thorne Rd., South Lambeth, London. Born in London. Served in the South African Campaign.”
Remembered at Morogoro Cemetery, Tanzania
British Army WWI Service Records 1914-1920
William Edward Crabb died on 23 May 1917 in the 15th Stationary Hospital at Morogoro, Tanzania. He had cerebral malaria caused by “field operations.” Crabb’s file offers few details on this, other than to note that he was admitted and that he was dangerously ill and subsequently died.
Malaria is transmitted by infected mosquitos and its presence in sub-Saharan Africa was and is endemic. Only some cases develop into celebral malaria, an acute disease of the brain that is accompanied by high fever and whitening of the retina. The mortality rate is currently between 25 and 50%, probably greater in 1917.
Crabb left a widow and four children, the youngest born in 1915. His pension records have not survived, so we cannot know how the local pension board treated his widow, Alice Beatrice. Crabb had, however, stacked up a number of years in the Army – with previous service in the South African campaign with the Royal Engineers.
An engineer’s fitter in civilian life, Crabb stood only 5 feet 2 inches tall, with a 34½ chest (to which he could add 3½ inches). He weighed under 8½ stone.
Information from the 1911 census
In 1911 William Edward Crabb, then 32, was working as an engineer’s fitter. He lived with his wife Alice Beatrice Crabb (née Stout), 24, at 44 Union Grove, Clapham, along with their two children, Alice Marie Crabb, 2, and Elsie Amelia Crabb, 1. Crabb was born in Southampton. The family lived in three rooms.