Robertworked in Stockport as a police constable, but all of his family connections were with nearby Disley. His parents lived there at Brook Terrace and Robert and his two brothers worshipped at St Mary’s Church, where he was a member of the choir. He had furthered his education by attending the Church’s Sunday School and, until he joined the army on 8 September 1914, he had been a keen member of its football team. His service papers, at the National Archives , show him to be have been tall for those days, standing just over 5’ 9” and he weighed 130 pounds. Robert gave his religious denomination as Anglican.
In June 1912, he married Sarah at St Mary’s Church, Bala, North Wales. They set up home at 19 Farmer Street, Heaton Norris. On 3 December the next year, their only child, James Gordon, was born.
86th Brigade was originally attached to the Army’s 19th Division and went abroad on active service on 17 July 1915 and Robert was amongst them. He will have seen action only a few weeks later at the Battle of Loos. The following summer and early autumn the Brigade gave substantial support to the infantry during the Battle of the Somme.
In January 1917, the Brigade was detached from Divisional command and was placed under the direct orders of the Army Command, being sent as a mobile force to wherever it was most needed. Few records remain of these “Army Brigades” so it is not possible to known where Robert was when he was killed, although his commemoration on the Menin Gate Memorial confirms it was in the area of Ypres. Robert was reported to have been asleep in his dug-out when it was hit by an enemy shell. The explosion probably killed the men instantly and buried them which may account for why he has no known grave.
One of his brothers, Richard, is known to have also served during the War.