Rank: Private
Number: 19023
Unit: 1st Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS
Date of Death: 31 July 1917
Age: 31
Cemetery: Artillery Wood Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium

Robert was married to Sarah Elizabeth. They may have lived in Cheadle Hulme, but after he was killed she re-married (to a Mr Platt) and lived at 36 Bulkeley Road, Cheadle. Robert had been born in Ardwick, Manchester and enlisted at Stockport.

31 July saw the opening of the Third Battle of Ypres (commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele). The attack had been well planned and was preceded by several days of artillery barrage. The Guards Brigades would attack from the village of Boesinghe, to the north of Ypres towards the enemy positions on Pilckem Ridge. Zero hour was set for 3.50am and, exactly on schedule, the men left their trenches. The Coldstreams were not in the first wave of the attack but were slightly behind, "mopping up" pockets of Germans. By 6am, the Coldstreams had reached their first main objective, perhaps 1000 yards away.

Half an hour later, they had moved forward another 700 yards to the second objective marked on operational maps of the time as the Black Line. Here they halted for an hour to regroup, while 200 yards in front of them, the British artillery bombardment continued to destroy enemy positions. The barrage then started to roll forward at a rate of 100 yards every four minutes and the Coldstreams kept close behind it for protection as they advanced another 1000 yards towards their final objective marked as the Green Line. It is probably around this time that Robert was killed, as the troops would have passed through the small copse known to the men as Artillery Wood. (The cemetery where Robert is buried is just to the north of the wood.)

Around this time, one of Robert's comrades won the Victoria Cross. There was a German machine gun emplacement impeding the advance. Without orders, Private Thomas Witham worked his way from shell hole to shell hole, through the British artillery barrage, rushed the emplacement capturing three soldiers and the gun.

The Battalion lost 42 members killed in the action. Robert's headstone is inscribed "The Supreme Sacrifice".

(NB: Original research for John Hartley's Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

© 2006. Design and Layout are the property of Ihelm Enterprises Limited and cannot be reproduced without express permission.
Enter Search Phrase Here:(search may take up to 30 seconds) 
Close Search Window