ALFRED HENRY ROBINSON

Private 268219, 9th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Died of Wounds 27th August 1918 aged 21

Buried in Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, France

Son of John Edwin and Ann Robinson

Lived 23, Eldon Street, Heckmondwike


Alfred’s parents were married on 26 December 1885 in St John’s Church Cleckheaton.  They were John Edwin who was living in Batley and Ann (née Walker) who was from School Street, Cleckheaton.  They spent the following years in South Parade, Cleckheaton and by 1901 they had two sons: John James aged 15 and Alfred Henry, born in 1896.  Ann Robinson died in 1906 aged 45.  John Edwin remarried on 30 April 1907 at Eastbrook Hall, Bradford.  He lived at Westgate Hill, Tong and his wife Annie (née Bastin) was from Birkenshaw.

In 1911 the family were living at 52, Jeremy Lane Heckmondwike.  Alfred then aged 14, was working as a Clerk for a wire manufacturer; his elder brother was a Draper; his father an Insurance Agent.  Records suggest it was around June 1916 when Alfred enlisted in Heckmondwike with the 9th Battalion of the West Riding Regiment (WRR).  Though this Battalion was intended for service only in the UK, pressures of war led to the Battalion being moved to France in July 1915.  In the second half of 1916 they were in action on the Somme around Fricourt and Delville Wood, then in 1917 they moved North to the Ypres area.

After the German offensive of March 1918 the Battalion was again in action in the Somme area on ground familiar to the soldiers of 1916.  An advance was ordered for 4.00am on 24 August 1918 in an Easterly direction from near the ruins of Thiepval.  The Germans responded with a barrage of high explosive and gas shells.  Little progress was made that day with particular difficulty being caused by a pocket of German troops armed with machine guns.  The situation became serious and for a time the line was held only by a Lieutenant Colonel and HQ staff from the Lancashire Fusiliers.  The following day, 26 August, two Companies of the WRR were sent round the North flank of the enemy pocket, but some machine gun fire continued.  On the 27 August the Battalion was ordered to withdraw to defensive positions and was replaced by other troops.  This respite was short-lived and the WRR was soon in action again.  The records show that for August 1918 the Battalion had 179 casualties and though there is no detail for ‘other ranks’, all the officer casualties occurred on 25, 26, or 28 August. It is most likely therefore that Private Robinson was wounded on 25 or 26 August near the ruins of Martinpuich.  After initial treatment he would have been taken to a Casualty Clearing Station out of the battlefield area.  Though these stations were generally large well equipped facilities, as the name suggests they were designed for short stays, and their patients might be quickly returned to active service or sent on for further treatment elsewhere.  Records show that Private Robinson died of wounds on 27 August 1918.  He is buried in Bagneux Cemetery near the sites of three Casualty Clearing Stations, around 25 miles from the Somme area.

Private Robinson had outstanding pay and allowances totalling £14 4s 9d and this was sent from the York Records Office to his father John on 20 December 1918.  The War Gratuity of £12 10s was sent on 8 December 1919.   A temporary wooden cross in the Cemetery was replaced in 1921 and John (now living at 23 Eldon Street Heckmondwike) made a contribution of 3½d for each letter of the inscription ‘He gave his life that others might live’ to be carved on the base of his son’s headstone.{AG-113}

The Society thanks The War Graves Photographic Project (www.twgpp.org) for providing this headstone photograph.

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