(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Robert was born on the 14th January 1883 in Manchester. He was baptised at St Michael's Church in the Hulme area of the city on Christmas Day that year. He was named after his father and his mother was called Rachael. Robert was the youngest of 3 children, Mary A. and John were both older than him.
Robert Nuttall senior was a warehouseman. When Robert junior was born the family lived at 17 Trafford Street in Hulme. By 1891 they had moved to 29 Kinder Street in Stalybridge, Cheshire. Ten years later in 1901 the family had returned to Manchester. They now lived at 95 Blackthorn Street in Ardwick. In this year we know that Robert senior worked in a carpet warehouse. His son was an assistant to a calico cloth dyer.
In 1911 Robert was the only child still living with his parents at 95 Blackthorn Street. Robert senior now worked as a carpet manufacturer. Robert junior was still a dyer, but no longer an assistant.
Robert still lived here when the First World War broke out in August 1914, and when he joined the Army on the 12th November 1915. He enlisted for General Service, meaning he was willing to join any unit that needed men.
When he enlisted Robert was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 133 pounds. He had a 'sallow' complexion, and brown eyes and hair. His teeth were unhealthy enough that he was only accepted into the Army after 'dental treatment'.
After his treatment Robert was assigned to the 27th (Reserve) Battalion of the Manchester Regiment at Prees Heath in Shropshire, and given the service number 25902. This unit trained new recruits for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th Battalions of the Manchester Regiment. The battalion moved to Southport in Lancashire in December 1915.
In April 1916 Robert was posted to the 22nd Battalion, who were serving on the Western Front in France. He sailed from Folkestone in Kent on the 6th April. After 2 weeks at the 30th Infantry Brigade Depot in Etaples, Robert joined the 22nd Battalion on the 20th. At the time they were based at Corbie, carrying out training.
After just 8 days with the Battalion, Robert found himself in trouble. He was sentenced to 14 days Field Punishment Number 2 for 'reporting sick without a cause'. Field Punishment Number 2 involved being given extra duties, and held in handcuffs or fetters at other times.
During June the 22nd Battalion trained to attack Mametz as part of the Somme Offensive. This began on the 1st July. The 22nd Battalion reached their objectives and forced the Germans to retreat. Their part of the battle had been a success, but 130 members of the battalion were killed, 111 were missing and 249 had been wounded, out of a total strength of 774. Many of the missing would eventually be found to be dead. Robert seems to have avoided injury on this day.
During the rest of July and August the battalion served around Mametz and Ginchy. During September they moved north to the area around Ypres in Belgium. They stayed there until mid November, when they returned to the Somme area. The Somme Offensive ended in November, and the battalion spent the winter around Beaumont Hamel.
Robert and the 22nd Battalion spent some time in the front lines during January 1917. On the 21st they moved to Puchevillers for four weeks of rest. The battalion trained during the first half of March, before returning to the front for an attack on Bucquoy on the 13th and 14th.
This attack was unsuccessful and the battalion lost almost 150 men killed, wounded or missing. They didn't return to the front until the 28th.
On this day the battalion took part in an attack on the village of Croisilles. The advance began at 5:45am. The battalion made good progress at first, but German machine gun fire brought the advance to a halt before they had reached the German trenches. They tried to move forward, but could not. The battalion was relieved during the afternoon of the 29th.
The 22nd Battalion lost 23 men killed, 55 wounded and 9 missing during this attack. Robert was one of the men killed. He died on the 28th, aged 34.
Robert's body was never found, so his name is now commemorated on the Arras Memorial, along with 34,790 other men. Robert is in Bay 7. This Memorial was unveiled in 1932. We believe both Robert's parents died in early 1925, so they never saw their son's final resting place.
Robert's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in July 1987.