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On 6th January 1915, Robert Coxhead entered the recruiting office in Preston and enlisted for four years service in the Territorial Force. He was given the service number 3530 (later 201182) and posted into the 4th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

He had been living at Rose Grove Farm on South Road in Bretherton near Preston, with his family. His father was also named Robert, his mother Elizabeth and brother Thomas.

Robert was 18 or 19 years old* and had no previous military service. He had been working as a weaver.

*Authors note: On his enlistment papers he stated he was 18, at his medical he stated he was 19yrs 2mths old.

On 23rd June 1915, he was promoted to Lance Corporal to coincide with a posting into the 42nd Prov Bn. In November the same year he was reduced back to Private, and posted into 3/4th Battalion, Loyal North Lancs.

On 10th February 1916, Robert set sail from Southampton bound for Rouen, where he landed the next day. He was part of the 6th body of reinforcements. He was held at the 55th Division Base Depot at Rouen until the 2nd March when he joined 1/4th Battalion in the field.

On 3rd July 1916 he was admitted to the Field Ambulance having been wounded. He rejoined the Battalion five days later.

On 8th August 1916 Private Robert Coxhead was reported as missing in action, it was later to be accepted that he had been killed that day.

8th August 1916

The Battalion had been assembled in trenches to the south of Trones Wood. ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies were to consolidate left and right of the enemy line near Guillemont. ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies were to attack in conjunction with battalions of the Royal Lancaster and Liverpool Regiment.

Thick mist and enemy smoke-bombs added to the confusion that ensued, but the attack did not go well. Heavy loses were sustained and over 100 soldiers were reported missing, including Robert.


Robert is remembered on the Thiepval memorial, and locally on the Bretherton memorial.


Rank: Private
Service No: 201182
Date of Death: 08/08/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Pier and Face 11 A.


Paul McCormick
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