(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Robert was born between April 1896 and April 1897. We don't know anything about his family or early life except that he had a younger brother named William.
The First World War broke out in August 1914 and we believe Robert joined the 7th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment towards the end of 1915. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based in Hulme Manchester. The 7th Battalion had been sent overseas at the beginning of the war, so new recruits were formed into a second 7th Battalion (2/7th).
We don't know anything about Robert's service, although we believe he remained a member of the 2/7th Battalion. This unit trained in the UK at Crowborough in Sussex and Colchester in Essex before going overseas to France in February 1917. By the time he went overseas Robert had been promoted to Acting Corporal.
At around this time soldiers serving in units of the Territorial Force were given new service numbers. Robert became 276737. We don't know his original number.
We don't know what happened to Robert once he arrived in France. He went missing on the 25th April 1917 and was presumed to have been killed on that day. He was 20 years old.
For many years Robert was not listed as a casualty of the First World War. The In From the Cold Project researched Robert's fate in 2009, and was able to prove that he had died in France. Due to their work, Robert's name was added to the Addenda Panel on the Arras Memorial, where 34791 men with no known grave are commemorated.
In August 1921 Robert's medals were sent to his next of kin. This was his brother William. He had not yet 'attained an age to appreciate their value', which suggests that he was still quite young. A soldier's parents had a greater claim on his medals than his brothers or sisters, so this letter suggests that Robert and William's parents were no longer alive or could not be traced.
The medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in February 1999.