9th April 1919 Wednesday

A Crash Course and Be Nice to The Russians!

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“On Wednesday, April 9th, there was a meeting of the Allied Medical Society, in our hospital which was a great success. Col. Richmond, our O.C. read a paper on ‘Aeroplane Crashes’, which was very well received. The guests afterwards inspected the hospital, and took tea with us. At night I attended a mass meeting of British officers in Archangel, when the Base Commandant – Col. Crosbie – lectured us on our attitude to the Russians. He was very good, but, of course, his remarks did not apply to the majority of us, but only to a very few, who had evidently been drinking heavily o’ nights, and then denouncing the Russians as lazy, dirty swine etc., remarks, doubtless true when applied to the Russians we meet in Archangel, but perhaps best left unsaid.”

Col. James Dayrolles Crosbie had been Commanding Officer of the 16thBattalion Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment until the Armistice on the 11thNovember 1918. He was then sent out to Archangel to take over as Base Commandant, where his work would entail relieving Brigadier-General Henry Needham, the Administrative Staff Officer, of a lot of his work.

The son of local nobility he was born in Co. Kerry, Ireland in 1865. As a young man he was destined for high office, by 1894 he had been appointed to the post of High Sheriff of County Kerry. Educated at Harrow, he chose a career in the military and in 1885 received his first commission in the 2nd battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers studying at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He relinquished his military career in 1893 and married  Maria Caroline Leith the daughter of  Major James Leith V.C. in 1894.

He sold his castle home in Kerry in 1912 but the outbreak of war in 1914 saw Crosbie resume his military career commanding the 11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers then 16th Battalion QRWS reaching the rank of T. Brigadier-General. Also, in 1919 he was made Companion, Order of St. Michael and St. George (C.M.G). He was Deputy Lieutenant County Kerry and Justice of the Peace.

He had settled in Scotland at Muircambus House, Kilconquhar, East Fife, which by some coincidence was about six miles from where Captain Douglas Page had established his general practice in Pittenween, Fife, long after his military service had ended. It is entirely possible, as Dr Page’s practice covered a wide area that Crosbie was a patient of his.

Known as “The General” Crosbie had then become Chairman of Fife County Council between 1938 and 1945 so he would have been well known to Dr. Page throughout the rest of his life. He finally passed away in December 1947 aged 83.

Dundee Courier, 2nd November 1932 © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000564/19321102/209/0012?browse=False

Brig-General Crosbie. Dundee Courier, 2nd November 1932 © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diaries here