Urban (B on mem BOB) SELLERS
Rank: Sapper
Number: 143507
Unit: 72nd Field Company ROYAL ENGINEERS
Date of Death: 17 January 1917
Age: 31
Cemetery: Basra Memorial, Iraq

Urban Sellers was always known as Bob and his inscription on the Stockport Memorial is as B Sellers. He was born in Tideswell and was still living there, aged 15, when the 1901 Census was taken. He lived at Buxton Road with his mother, Mary, and sisters, Frances, Atheus and Maria. His father, Samuel, had died by then. At some point, Mary moved to Ramsbottom near Bury and lived at 36 The Square. Bob, however, moved to live with his older brother, Henry, at 38 Bury Street in the Lancashire Hill area of Stockport. Henry was a stone mason and Bob worked as his labourer, but over time became a skilled bricklayer.

It's thought that Henry died some time before the start of the Great War and that Bob had moved to the family home at Ramsbottom. He travelled in to Bury to join up, probably in the middle of 1916. His craft skills were recognised as being of particular use to the army and he was assigned to the Engineers. He will have been one of about 20 bricklayers amongst the Field Company strength of just over 200. Bob will have gone out to Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) as one of number of replacements for casualties. This theatre of the War was characterised by the number of deaths from disease and other illnesses as much as casualties of fighting. It was hot, with unsanitary conditions and vermin.

The Company's War Diary for January 1917 contains few details, noting only that they were based at Camp R9 (location unknown) and that they spent the early part of the month digging trenches. In late December, British forces had been in a series of successful actions against the Turks near the River Hai, to the north east of the town of Kut-al-Amara. Much of the task of consolidating the gains would have fallen to the Engineers and this is likely to have been where Bob was working when he was killed on 17 January.

   
           
   
     
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