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Robert Edmond Bennett was baptised on the 27th December 1891 in the village of Sywell in Northamptonshire. He was the son of coachman Hugh Bennett and Mary Jane Saul. Hugh Bennett was a native of the village of Longton just outside Preston and Mary Jane was born in Preston, they married in Preston in 1886. After they married their first two children were both born in Preston, Margaret (1887) and Robert Edmond (1888), sadly both died in infancy.

Within two years of the death of their first two children Hugh and Mary Jane had moved to Sywell in Northamptonshire and another son William Arthur was born there in 1890. At the time of the 1891 Census they were living at Sywell Hall Cottage and Hugh Bennett`s occupation is listed as a coachman. The cottage where they lived was in between Sywell Hall and the village Rectory. At the time Sywell Hall was occupied by Thomas A Dickinson with his family and a number of servants. Mr Dickinson was an estate agent and he was from Preston so it`s possible that he employed Hugh Bennett as his coachman.

After Robert was born in late 1891, Hugh and Mary Jane had another child in 1894, a daughter they named Jane Alice and she was also born in Sywell. At some point after their daughter was born the family moved back to Preston where sadly Robert`s father died in 1900.

Newly widowed Mary Jane and her children, William, Robert and Jane were living at 306 Ribbleton Lane in Preston in 1901. None of the children were old enough to work and so to make ends meet Mary Jane was taking in washing and sewing. Ten years later Robert and his family were still in Preston but living at 2 Raikes Road. Robert, William and Jane were all working as weavers and their mother had no occupation.

Robert enlisted on the 7th September 1914 at the recruiting office in Preston. He was given the service number 13175 and posted to “D” Company (Preston Pals) of the 7th (Service) Battalion. The Medical Officer noted that Robert was five feet eight and a half inches tall and weighed 137lbs, his eyes were grey and his hair was fair. His address at that time was Thorn Street in Preston.

After the 7th Battalion had been formed and all the formalities completed the Battalion left Preston for Tidworth to begin their training.

The following is an extract from a letter that was printed in the Preston Herald shortly after they had arrived at Tidworth, it was penned by `Jim` (surname unknown) one of the `Pals` The letter was addressed to Mr. Bowman at Messrs. Jacksons & Sons;

“Getting along fine, and the weather is champion…the only fault I find is getting up early in the morning, and by jove it is cold. We have received boots, shirts, socks and knives and forks and are expecting clothes this week. We are getting along famously with our drills. We could not stick the grub for the first few days, but now we eat it like lions, all the lot of us.

We have got quite used to the soldier`s life now, and I wish I was going to the front tomorrow. Would you be kind enough to send some brown paper and string so I can send my togs home; it is an awful place here to get anything. We only get the evenings off, we are on parade all day long and I feel twice as strong in myself, and I`m sure it is doing me the world of good”

The photograph below shows “D” Company, 7th Battalion (Preston Pals) and was taken on the 21st November 1914 at Tidworth.pals

The 7th Battalion started mobilisation on the 16th July 1915 when the transport section including 3 Officers and 110 non-commissioned officers and men left Southampton for Le Havre. Robert, who had also qualified as a machine gunner left with the main body of the Battalion the following afternoon (17th) proceeding in two trains to Folkestone and from there crossing to Boulogne.

Robert had one entry on his misconduct sheet dated 6th February 1916 – “When on active service; i) being out of bounds and ii) being improperly dressed for which he received 7 days confined to barracks and was given extra fatigues.

On the 29th April 1916 he was evacuated to a field ambulance with a foot problem and from there admitted to No.6 General Hospital in Rouen, he re-joined his battalion on the 15th May 1916.

Sadly, Robert was killed in action on the 21st July 1916 when the Battalion was in action at Bazentin-le-Petit on the Somme.

The following article appeared later in the Preston Guardian;Bennett 1

Robert`s body was never recovered from the battlefield and so his name is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme.

After the war he was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

The C.W.G.C. record notes; brother of Mrs Foster (Jane Alice Bennett) of 44 Westhead Road, Croston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 13175
Date of Death: 21/07/1916
Age: 24
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 7th Bn.

Janet Davis
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One Response to 13175 PTE. R. E. BENNETT. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Susan Walton says:

    Robert was my grandma’s brother in my Mum’s side. I have never seen a picture of him so to see the article from the Preston Guardian is really nice. Thankyou for researching him.

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