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Robert Lee was born in 1898, he was the son of Jonathan and Mary Ann Lee, of Morley Hill, Whitfield, Northumberland. His father was a farmer, and his elder brothers and sister were all employed on the farm.

1911 Census – Morley Hill, Whitfield, Northumberland

Jonathan Lee, aged 55, Farmer
Mary Ann Lee, aged 49, Wife
Janet Lee, aged 27, Farmers daughter – dairy work.
William Lee, aged 19, Farmers son – working on farm.
Sarah Jane Lee, aged 17, Farmers daughter – dress maker
Jonathan Little Lee, aged 15, Farmers son – working on farm
Samuel Lee, aged 14, Farmers son – shop assistant
Robert Lee, aged 13, At school
Ethel Lee, aged 12, At school
Fred Lee, aged 10, At school
Beatrice Lee, aged 7, At school

Robert enlisted in the Army in Hexham-on-tyne, Northumberland on 5th February 1916 where he was first posted into the Reserve waiting to be called-up. He gave his occupation as Shepherd so presumably he had also been working on the family farm since finishing his education. The medical officer recorded that Robert was 18 years 4 months old and stood 5ft 4in tall, weighing 111 lbs with a 34 inch chest.

He was mobilised on 25th September 1916 and joined No. 1 Depot of the Royal Field Artillery with the service number 174138. He was shortly thereafter transferred into the 78th Training Battalion at Prees Heath. On 17th December 1916 he was reprimanded for overstaying his pass between midnight and 5.50 a.m. The charge was later admonished but he was posted into the 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment shortly afterwards, 11th January 1917, for service overseas. His new number was 36040.

Robert sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne on 12 January 1917 where he would meet his new Battalion in the field. The 1/LNL were part of the original B.E.F. who arrived in France in August 1914 and had comprised nearly exclusively of pre-war regular and recently time-expired soldiers, although by 1917 this was no longer the case.

Robert died of wounds sustained during the night of 14th July 1917 whilst conducting working party duties at Nieuport Bains. One officer and six men were killed, and a further eight men wounded.

The nature of their death is not explained in the War Diary, but I would suspect it would be due to German bombardment.

Private Robert Lee was buried in the Coxyde Military Cemetery the following day, 15th July 1917. He was just 19 years old.

The ‘Whitfield Welcome Home Fund’ apparently presented his family with a gold pocket watch inscribed with the following;

“Presented by the Whitfield Welcome Home Fund in memory of Pte. R Lee. L.N. Lancs.”

Hi mother took receipt of some letters and photos that were sent back from the Front. She would later receive his British War Medal and Victory Medal as well as a memorial plaque and scrolling bearing Robert’s name and in recognition of his sacrifice.

His family also asked the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to inscribe his headstone with the words;


Rank: Private
Service No: 36040
Date of Death: 14/07/1917
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Paul McCormick
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4 Responses to 36040 PTE. R. LEE. L.N.LAN.R

  1. David Brian Preston says:

    Dear Paul McCormick.

    I am researching Robert Lee for a relative who lives in Allendale, may I put this wonderful life history of Robert Lee in a letter to them they live in a area of Allendale they only have contact by Mobile phone no internet or land lines.

    Great work

    With kind regards

    David Preston

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