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Robert Alstead was born on the 23rd October 1878 in Bamber Bridge the youngest of eight surviving children born to Anthony and Elizabeth Alstead (nee Parker). Robert`s parents married in St. Leonard`s Church in Walton le Dale in 1855, their other children being; Ann (1855), Margaret (1859), Ellen (1861), Elizabeth (1865), William (1868), Mary Jane (1872) and Alice (1875).

In 1901 Robert was living at 14 Church Road in Walton le Dale with his sister Alice and widowed father Anthony, all three employed as cotton spinners in a nearby mill. On the 9th June 1904 Robert married Emily Hough in St. Saviour`s Church in Bamber Bridge and in the December quarter of 1904 a son William was born. Robert, Emily and William`s home was at 14 Cambridge Road in Bamber Bridge and they were still resident there in 1911.

The 1911 Census record also shows three of Emily`s younger siblings boarding with the family, Edward Hough 23, a labourer in an iron works, Joseph Hough 19, an apprentice blacksmith and Florence Hough 15, a cardroom operative in a mill. Robert was also still employed as a cotton spinner. Sadly, Robert and Emily`s young son William died in 1912 aged 8 years and the following year they had another child, a daughter they named Amy.

At the age of 36 years and 4 months Robert enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 6th February 1915 for the duration of the war and was allocated the service number 20063. The Medical Officer noted that he was 5`10” tall with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. Robert passed his medical inspection and was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion.

Not long after Robert enlisted his father in law Benjamin Hough had the following family photograph taken which was subsequently published in the local Preston paper. The photograph features Benjamin Hough, five of his sons and son in law Robert Alstead (pictured far right).

Please click for larger image

Please click for larger image

On the 15th October 1915 Robert sailed to the Dardanelles to join the 6th Battalion who had previously landed at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula on the 4th August 1915.

Extract from the Battalion War History – November 1915

“During November more reinforcements arrived, both in Officers and other ranks, and by the end of the month the strength of the Battalion was fifteen Officers and 619 non-commissioned Officers and men.

On the evening of the 26th November a terrific rainstorm came on and in a few minutes every dug-out and trench was flooded out. The Division occupying the flat ground to the right of Chocolate Hill was washed out of its trenches and there were several casualties from drowning, while the Salt Lake came right up to the foot of Chocolate Hill. Then, all of a sudden, the wind changed and was coming from the north in an icy blast. For almost forty eight hours the snow fell and there was a bitterly cold frost. The surface of the pools and trenches froze thick. The sentries and outposts in the advanced trenches could not pull the trigger of their rifles for cold. The men suffered terribly.”

Unfortunately Robert became a casualty of the severe weather and he had to report sick. He was then taken to Malta via the Hospital Ship Nevassia and was admitted to hospital on the 4th December 1915. On Christmas Eve 1915 Robert was invalided home to England via the Hospital Ship Hunslet and on the 3rd January 1916 he was admitted to a hospital in Eastleigh, Hampshire for further treatment.

By the 16th March 1916 having recovered from his sickness Robert was posted back to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. However, on the 7th June 1916 having served 1 year and 123 days he was discharged from the Army at Felixstowe for “no longer being physically fit for war service”. The medical inspection that took place prior to his discharge determined that Robert was sent to Malta suffering from frostbite and rheumatism but it was while he was in hospital in Malta that it was also discovered he was suffering from VDH (valvular disease of the heart). The Medical Board concluded that his condition originated at Suvla Bay on 2nd December 1915 and it was as a result of his active service.

Sadly, on the 11th July 1918 at the age of 39 years Robert passed away at his home in Bamber Bridge. He was later buried in a Commonwealth War Grave at St. Saviours Churchyard in Bamber Bridge.20063 Private Robert Alstead cwgc

After the war Robert was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service to his country.

Rank: Private
Service No: 20063
Date of Death: 11/07/1918
Age: 39
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 3rd Bn.

Janet Davis
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