Biddulph & District Genealogy & Historical Society Biddulph Grange

Biddulph and the Great War

'There Shall Be In That Rich Earth A Richer Dust Concealed'

'We Will Remember Them'

Lance Corporal David Robinson

3492 1st/5th Bn. North Staffordshire Regiment died on October 13th 1915 Age 25

David Robinson was a Lancashire lad, born circa 1890 at Oldham, the son of James E. and Agnes Robinson. In 1901, he and his older brother Joseph were lodging with relatives, the Hammersleys, at 3, Duke Street, Biddulph. At this time David was only 11 years of age and Joseph was already married and working as a labourer. It would seem that David left his brother in Biddulph and at some point moved back to Lancashire, as in 1912 at Oldham he married Edith Marian Tawse. Perhaps his brother was able to find him work in Biddulph and David and Edith returned and on September 26th 1914, David enlisted in the 1st/5th North Staffords. He gave his address as 6, Well Street, Biddulph and his occupation as a collier with R. Heath & Sons. Nine months later, his daughter Edith Alice was born; but David would never get to meet his daughter.

Service records reveal that David was not a stranger to Army life as on enlistment he stated that he had served in the 10th Manchester Regiment. The Chronicle reported that Robinson had four years of experience with the Manchesters. Basic training was to begin at Butterton Hall camp near Newcastle-under-Lyme, with physical fitness, drill and marching. Four to six weeks later the men transferred to Luton and Bishop’s Stortford to continue their training. David’s service records tell us he was made up to Lance Corporal on October 10th 1914 and served in “B” company. In March 1915 the battalion was at full strength and the King had inspected their division, the 46th North Midland, in February. It was now time to entrain to the channel port, crossing to Le Havre and arriving in France on March 5th.

For their final preparation for war the division moved inland to their concentration area before moving into Belgium; the Ypres salient was the division’s destination. The troops were to spend eight months at Ypres, fighting the enemy and then out of line for more training until ordered to move south to join the Battle of Loos.

This battle was significant in that it achieved nothing and had a very high casualty rate in a single day; in other words October 13th 1915 was a black day for North Staffordshire. In Biddulph the loss of eight of its soldiers was a devastating blow. Lance Corporal David Robinson was one of the eight to fall during an attack at the Hohenzollern Redoubt, where the 1/5th advanced across no man’s land in a blind assault towards Big Willie and Fosse Alley enemy trenches. The battalion ran into horrendous machine gun fire and shelling which resulted in the near annihilation of the battalion with over 500 casualties including 219 killed in action.

A surviving soldier of the battalion Private Sydney Richard said after the battle, “It was absolute hell with the lid off. Dying and wounded all over the place, I shall never forget this day.

Lance Corporal Robinson was never recovered from the Loos battlefield and has no known grave, and is now remembered on the Loos Memorial and the Biddulph memorials.

The surviving records for Lance Corporal Robinson contain a letter from his widow, Edith, to the War Office. Edith was concerned that she has not received any personal effects or any financial help:

The letter above is undated but presumably prior to July 1916 when she was granted a pension for one child of 15/- per week.

Edith moved to Brindley Ford and in 1917 she remarried and became Mrs. Charles Heath. The family resided at 21, Bourne Street, Brindley Ford.

Mike Turnock and Elaine Heathcote

A list of all the medals awarded to the men of the Biddulph area has been compiled and can be viewed here.


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