No. T/4/128737, Army Service Corps, transferred to
No. 41865, 1st Battalion, Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers)
Killed in action on Thursday 21 March 1918 (aged 36)
No known grave
Pozieres Memorial, France (Panel 76 and 77)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for
Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards
According to the statement he made at attestation, Robert Robson was born on 2 July 1882 in the townland of Ballygrainey and he lived in the townland of Ballyfotherly, Donaghadee.
Robert Robson enlisted on 16 August 1915 at Clandeboye Camp and it was noted that he was 5 feet 8½ inches tall with a scar on his upper left arm caused by the bite of horse. He stated that his occupation was a horse trainer.
In his Army papers, there is a letter from Robert’s wife, Ellen Jane Robson, outlining his family details. His mother was unmarried, she had five children and some were living in Glasgow, others in Canada. Ellen Jane stated that she and Robert had two children, Samuel (aged 16) and Robert (aged 14):
Samuel Hugh was born on 7 June 1903 in New Street Bangor to Ellen Jane McGowan, a domestic servant.
Robert was born on 20 May 1905 at 5 Victoria Road, Bangor.
Robert Robson and Ellen Jane McGowan (sometimes Magowan) were married on 13 November 1906 in Ballyfrenis Presbyterian Church, Carrowdore. In their marriage certificate, it is stated that Robert Robson from Orlock was a son of John Robson, a labourer (deceased) and that Ellen Jane McGowan from 22 Gray’s Hill, Bangor was a daughter of Joseph McGowan, a labourer.
After Robert Robson enlisted on 16 August 1915 at Clandeboye he went to Seaford in Sussex for training and then to France in 1916. He served with the Army Service Corps (No. T/4/128737) before being transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers (No. 41865) in January 1918.
Private Robert Robson was 36 when he was killed in action on 21 March 1918, the first day of the German Spring Offensive. Initially he was reported as missing in action and on 1 May 1919 it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed.
At the time of his death his wife and their two children were living at 52 Frederick Street, Newtownards and his wife placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the 17 May 1919 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle. It contained the verse:
No loving hand clasped his that day,
No home voice said good-bye:
He fell in battle’s dread affray,
But God Himself was nigh.
God knows how much I miss him,
And He counts the tears I shed,
And whispers Hush! he only sleeps
Your loved one is not dead.
After Private Robert Robson died there was confusion in the Ministry of Pensions as to his widow’s address. A letter was sent to Ellen Jane Robson at 52 Frederick Street, Portadown and it took some time to establish that she lived in Newtownards.
Private Robert Robson (No. 41865) is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial (in the booklet produced for the Unveiling and Dedication Ceremony held on Saturday 26 May 1934 he is described as a Private in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers). He is also commemorated in the PCI Roll of Honour for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards (where he is described as a Private in the Army Service Corps).