Robert Arthur WALLEY
Rank: Private
Number: 151320
Unit: 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles (Saskatchewan Regiment) CANADIAN FORCES
Date of Death: 2nd October 1916
Age: 24
Cemetery: Contay British Cemetery, Somme, France

Robert was born in Manchester on 18 February 1892. He was the eldest son of Arthur and Lily Ford who later lived at 60 Adswood Road East, Stockport. In 1912, he emigrated to Canada and settled in Whitewater, Manitoba where he was a farmer.

On 27 November 1915, he enlisted at Brandon, about 60 miles away. His attestation forms are available on-line at the Canadian National Archives. These show the reader that Robert was just over five feet nine inches tall with a 36.5 inch chest (which he could expand another four inches). He was of a fair complexion, with blue eyes and dark hair. He had a scar to the left of his left eye and, on his right forearm, he had tattoos of a bird and a fish.

On 1 October, the Battalion (now operating as ordinary infantry) was in Brigade reserve, having been in action some days before. It was a sunny day, although the men of "A" Company would not be able to enjoy it. They were ordered forward, to be attached to the 5th Mounted Rifles, which was to attack the German-held Regina Trench (in the heart of the Somme battlefield - and an objective for the first day of the Battle, back in July)

There were five officers and 128 men. They attacked at "zero hour", but their way across No Man's Land was held up by German shelling, machine gun fire and uncut barbed wire, protecting the enemy trench. Although there were a number of casualties, the Rifles made it into Regina Trench and commenced their allotted task. This was to work their way along the trench system, clearing it of Germans by throwing grenades. They had soon used up all their supply and took to using grenades they found on dead Germans. When these were used up, they got fresh supplies form their own line and then carried on with the job. By 2am, the German reinforcements were becoming to strong and the Canadians had to withdraw back to their own line for safety. They had captured 14 prisoners who had previously been sent back to the Allied line, but the cost was high.

The Battalion's War Diary records that 41 soldiers were missing (and probably dead) and another 14 were wounded. Robert was one of the wounded. After receiving treatment just behind the front line, from the Battalion's Medical Officer, he was evacuated to either 9th or 49th Casualty Clearing Station, a few miles away at Contay. There, military surgeons would have done all that they could to save his life, but without success.

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