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Robert William Robinson (1894-1941)

Middleton St George man served with 1st/5th, 6th DLI and Yorkshire Regiment

This information is the result of my research into my family history (Robert William Robinson was my paternal grandfather), including study of his army service file at the National Archives. The photos were passed down to me by my late auntie (Margaret Robinson, the daughter of Robert William Robinson).

Robert William Robinson, of Middleton St George, Darlington, served in the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) and the Yorkshire Regiment throughout World War One.

Robert was born at Station Road, Middleton-St-George, Darlington on 31 December 1894. He was the son of Hobson Robinson and Sarah Ann Robinson (nee Waistell), who had married in August 1894. He was the eldest of two siblings – his younger brother, Cecil Hobson Robinson, was born in July 1900.

Robert’s uncle, Alfred Robinson (the younger brother of Hobson Robinson) who had been born in 1868, served in the DLI in the Boer War, as well as serving in the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War (see related stories, below).

At the time of the 1901 census Robert was six years old and living with his family and his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Waistell, at Bridge Cottage, Over Dinsdale. Robert was educated at Middleton St George School.

By the time of the 1911 census Robert was 16 and working as a clerk at a builder’s merchants (he had started working as a carpenter two years previously, at the age of fourteen). He was still living with the same family members as in 1901 – they had moved back to Station Road (number 10), Middleton-St-George – a four-bedroom house.

Robert joined the territorial army in 1912. He enlisted as a private in the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) on 25 April 1912 and was posted to the 5th Battalion. His regimental number was 1553 (it was later changed to 270032). He was appointed lance-corporal on 6 June 1913, and promoted to corporal on 7 April 1914.

When war was declared he was mobilised as a corporal and posted to 1st/5th Battalion DLI on 5 August 1914. On 18 September 1914 he signed up formally at Hummersknott Park in Darlington, agreeing to serve abroad if required. He was appointed paid lance-sergeant on 12 December 1914, and promoted to acting Sergeant on 2 April 1915. He was promoted to sub-sergeant on 17 April 1915, the day the battalion left England for France, sailing from Folkestone to Boulogne. Robert was promoted to company quarter master sergeant (CQMS) on 10 July 1916.

On 9 August 1916 Robert was diagnosed with scabies and admitted to a casualty clearing station for medical treatment. He then developed impetigo and was transferred back to England. On 13 September 1916 Robert was admitted to hospital in England (the St John and St Elizabeth Hospital, 40 Grove End Road, London – near Lords Cricket Ground in St Johns Wood), suffering from impetigo following scabies. He was discharged from the hospital on 20 September 1916. On 29 September 1916 he was posted from the depot to the 5th Battalion Reserves. He remained in England until 7 February 1917.

On 8 February 1917 Robert was posted abroad to an Infantry Base Depot (number 35 – Etaples), before being posted to the 6th Battalion of the DLI (his regimental number was now 270032) on 3 March 1917. He was abroad for 261 days, until 26 October 1917. On 27 October 1917 he returned to England and was posted to the 5th Reserves of the DLI.

On 24 September 1917 Robert had applied for admission to an officer cadet unit, with a view to appointment in the regular army for the period of the war, having passed the appropriate medical and been recommended by his commanding officer. He joined the training unit (10 Officer Cadet Battalion) on 8 February 1918, for a 4½ month course based at Gailes Camp in Ayrshire. On 25 June 1918 he completed the training course and was recommended for promotion to officer, his Lieutenant Colonel commenting that he ‘has worked hard and done well, should make a good officer’.

On 2 September 1918 Robert was appointed to a temporary commission as second lieutenant in the Yorkshire Regiment (announced in the London Gazette on 17 September 1918). By the time he was discharged from the territorial force on 10 September 1918 (in order to take up his commission in the Yorkshire Regiment), he had served for 6 years and 139 days.

Robert stayed in France beyond the end of the war, working in a Graves Registration Unit (GRU), not returning to England to be demobilised from the army until May 1920. On 11 March 1920 he progressed from temporary second lieutenant to be temporary lieutenant (still in the service battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment).

Robert completed his service on 2 May 1920, relinquishing his commission and retaining the rank of lieutenant – this was announced in the London Gazette on 14 June 1920. He was officially demobilised at the Purfleet Dispersal Unit in Essex. Robert received the Victory and British medals, as well as the 15 Star.

After the war, Robert got married on 1 February 1930 to Margaret Allison Swainston. The wedding took place at St Lawrence’s Church, Middleton-St-George. At the time Robert was living at 12 Station Road and was a joiner. Robert’s first child, Margaret Elizabeth Robinson, was born later in 1930.

At the time of a 1933 article in The Northern Echo, Robert was described as being a joiner working at the slag works, where his father, Hobson Robinson, also worked as an engine-minder. Robert’s second and third children, twins Cecil Hobson and Dorothy Ann Robinson, were born on 3 June 1935. At the time the family were living at 8 Neasham Road, Middleton-St-George.

Robert died on 8 February 1941, at the age of 46, of ‘pulmonary tuberculosis’. At the time of his death he was still living at ‘Altcar’, 8 Neasham Road, Middleton St George – his occupation was described as ‘journeyman joiner’. The death was notified by his brother, Cecil Hobson Robinson, who was living next door at 7 Neasham Road. Robert was survived by his wife, who lived until 1974.

Civil Parish: Middleton St. George

Birth date: 31-Dec-1894

Death date: 08-Feb-1941

Armed force/civilian: Army

Gender: Male

Contributed by Robert Robinson, Essex

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