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Robert Pendlebury was born in Westhoughton on the 8th January 1885 and was baptised in St. Bartholomew`s Church the following month. His parents Joseph and Ellen Pendlebury (nee Rimmer) married in the same church on the 1st September 1878 and Robert was one of eleven children born to the couple, the others being; Joseph (1878), Nancy (1879), Abel (1880), Martha (1881), Mary (1883), James (1887), Nellie (1888), Roger (1893), Constance (1898) and Elizabeth A. (1899). Robert`s father was a `banksman` working at one of the local coal mines and in 1891 the family home was at 4 Barn Hill in Westhoughton.

By 1901 Robert and his family were still living in Westhoughton but had moved to number 204 Leigh Road. Robert`s elder brothers Joseph and Abel had both gone into the mines as coal hewer`s and his two sisters, Martha and Mary both worked in a cotton mill whilst sixteen year old Robert had also started work down the mine as a `colliery drawer` In 1911 the family were still resident in Leigh Street but by now Robert`s father had retired, the rest of the male members of the family including Robert all had various jobs down the mine and the females all worked in a cotton mill.

On the 5th September 1914 Robert attested into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, signing his papers in nearby Bolton. He was single, aged 29 and had previously been working as a miner and he named his mother of 204 Leigh Road, Westhoughton as his next of kin. Robert was five feet six inches tall and weighed 140lbs and had a chest measurement of just over 36 inches. He had a fresh complexion, brown hair and brown eyes and his only distinguishing feature was a scar on his right shoulder. Robert was issued with the service number 16739 and ten days later he was posted to the 10th Battalion LNL.

After several months of training Joseph sailed to France on the 31st July 1915 with the 10th Battalion, the Battalion coming under the command of the 112th Brigade of 37th Division. Around the middle of August 1915 the 37th Division was transferred to the recently formed Third Army under the Command of General C. Munro. Later in the month the Battalion went by train into the neighbourhood of Doullens where the Division came into the area of VII Corps, commanded by Lieut-General Sir T. Snow. After going into billets at Engelbelmer the Battalion was then sent for instruction in trench duties, this lasting until 5th September after which the Battalion marched to St. Amand where it re-joined the Brigade. On the 15th September 1915 the Battalion went into the trenches after relieving the 13th King`s Royal Rifles. Although this portion of trenches appeared to be fairly quiet, the Battalion was not immune to casualties.

For the next few months the Battalion alternated between trenches and billets around Hannescamps and Humbercamps. The area was a low lying one and after periods of heavy rain the trenches soon filled with water and became difficult to drain, the men found themselves having to spend most of the time repairing and rebuilding the trenches whilst at the same time dodging snipers bullets and the occasional shrapnel.

On the 2nd February 1916 the Battalion left their billets at Humbercamps and proceeded to relieve the 13th Kings Royal Rifle Corps in the trenches at Hannescamps once more. No unusual activity was reported in the War Diary other than the `normal` artillery fire and no hostile enemy patrols encountered. Sadly, seven days after going into the trenches, Robert died as a result of a gunshot wound, his death occurring on the 9th February. His death, however, was not as a result of enemy fire but from his own gun. A Court of Enquiry met on the 19th February 1916 to determine whether his death was `accidental` or had been `self-inflicted`;

Click to enlarge

Please click to enlarge

The Court of Enquiry finally concluded that Robert`s death had occurred accidentally. The entry in his service papers simply states; “Acc. Killed 9/2/16, GSW – place not stated”

After his death Robert was laid to rest in Bienvillers Military Cemetery. After the war his mother took receipt of her sons` 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

Photo taken July 2016

Photo taken July 2016

Rank: Private
Service No: 16739
Date of Death: 09/02/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.

Janet Davis
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