Major Arthur Bingham Crabbe


Arthur Bingham Crabbe of Grand Avenue Mansions, Hove, Sussex, was born on 4 April 1857 at Streatham, London, son of stockbroker Edward Crabbe and actress Louisa Ruth Crabbe (nee Herbert).

Initially commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 41st Regiment of Foot, on 15 January 1879 he transferred to the 3rd (King's Own) Hussars. He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 July 1881, captain on 9 March 1886, and became adjutant to the regiment later that year. During this period he had served as a volunteer in the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons in the first Boer War of 1881, and with the 19th Hussars in the Egyptian War of 1882, being present at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir.

He transferred to the 8th Hussars before retiring, and was then appointed captain (retired pay) in the 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.

In 1896-97 he was involved in a high profile legal case of breach of promise, the plaintiff being Miss Mabel Duncan, an "exceedingly pretty" young actress related on her mother's side to the Earl of Bredalbane and the Earl of Lauderdale, according to the press at the time.

During the Boer War Crabbe served in the 16th (Worcestershire) Company of the 5th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry. He took part in operations in the Orange Free State from April to May 1900, in the Orange River Colony from May to July 1900,  in the Transvaal from July to September 1900 and in the Cape Colony in 1900. He was mentioned in despatches.

Crabbe became captain and acting adjutant in the Worcestershire (Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars) Yeomanry on 7 May 1902. On 10 August 1909 he was promoted to major. He remained with the regiment until around 1913.

On 15 January 1916 Crabbe was appointed major (retired pay) in the North Irish Horse. He was aged 58 at the time. He remained with the regiment at Antrim throughout the war, commanding one of the three reserve squadrons there.

He relinquished his commission on 6 June 1919.

A letter written by Major Crabbe to a friend in England gives an interesting insight into the state of affairs at the Antrim depot of the regiment in the latter part of 1917:

My dear (Van?)

Many thanks for your letter forwarded here from Brighton. I have been here for two years with two visits to France & am here now I expect "for the duration". My boy is 2nd Lt in 3rd Hussars & has been out in France since last Jan. I saw him there & he was the smartest (..?..) in the whole continent of Europe. I can't imagine why they made Chaloner a peer – I consider it most unnecessary. There would have been (some use?) if they had made his brother one. Goring has been commanding our second regiment in France but they have been dismounted & I believe he has gone home.

I saw Peckham & Forester in London in (?) & D(?)nay, Taber & Hamilton are with the 2nd Res: Cav: at the Curragh.

This is a most putrid place & I shall be glad to be out of it for good. I think I have only been in Brighton twice in the last 2 years. I am sick to death of the war & everything connected with it. We used to have a very fine lot of men but now we get mostly Irish conscripted in England, mostly papisties & most infernal ruffians. I had 80 in a batch the other day but I have made 40 desert to hope to make the other 40 go pretty soon. I should love to meet your little friend & hope I may.

Ever yours
A. Bingham Crabbe



The 'boy' referred to in Crabbe's letter was his son, Hubert Lyon Bingham Crabbe. Born on 29 January 1898, he had applied for a commission in the North Irish Horse soon after his 18th birthday. Instead, he was appointed a 2nd lieutenant in the 3rd (King's Own) Hussars (Special Reserve). He joined his regiment in France on 29 March 1917. He later transferred to the RAF as an observation officer and after a period of training was posted to No.57 Squadron at Le Quesnoy in May 1918. Within days he was killed in action while on a photographic mission in his aircraft, a DH4.


Letter sourced from the National Library of Ireland -