Robert was born in Marple, the son of Charles and Mary. The 1901 Census records the family living at Queen Street in the village. Charles, then 47, was the caretaker of the local Mission Room and had 6 children living at home - Martha (21), John (19), Ruth (14), Sarah (13), Robert (10) and Richard (8). The four oldest children all worked in the local cotton industry.
Further information about Robert, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Remembered by P Clarke, A Cook, and J Bintliff. The book confirms that Robert married. However his widow is not recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in it's Debt of Honour Register. When it collated casualty information in the early 1920s, his daughter, Freda, was recorded as the only family. She was living at 317 Queen Street, Rose Brow, Compstall.
Probably when he married, Robert moved to live in Newton, Hyde and he enlisted into the army in the town. Robert worked as a carter so it was probably no surprise to him that the Army wanted him to continue working with horses. He was assigned to the Service Corps' newly formed 213 Company which would, eventually, go overseas and provide supply line duties for 30th Division. He had only been in training at Aldershot for a few days when he contracted pneumonia and died. As he had died in Britain, his body could have been returned home for burial but this would have been at the family's expense. An expense that, presumably, could not be afforded.
Robert is commemorated on the Compstall war memorial. The war memorial in Hyde also commemorates a man called R Speakman.