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6252 Private Percy RobinsonPercy Robinson was born in 1891 in Nelson near Burnley the eldest of seven children born to Thomas and Ellen Robinson (nee Dean). His parents married in 1886 in Nelson and Percy had five brothers and one sister;

  • Walter b. 1893
  • Harry b. 1895
  • Edgar b. 1896
  • Gilbert b, 1898
  • Mabel Sarah Elizabeth b. 1900
  • Thomas Harold b. 1902

In 1911 the Robinson family was living at 4 Poplar Street in Nelson and apart from his mother and his two youngest siblings the rest of Percy`s family all worked as cotton weavers. Thomas Robinson completed and signed the census form as head of the family and was quite specific about the living arrangements stating that the house had 4 bedrooms and 3 rooms downstairs.

Percy and his family attended the Bradley Hall Wesleyan Chapel in Nelson where Percy was at one time the chapel organist. According to his service papers he had previously seen service with the 5th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment before becoming time expired. Just after the outbreak of WW1 he went to work in the munitions factory at Vickers & Co. in Barrow in Furness.

On the 1st March 1916 he enlisted into his old regiment of the 5th East Lancs at Burnley and was given the number 4706. His medical inspection record states that he was five feet four and a half inches tall weighed 128lbs and had a 36” chest. He was said to be in a fair physical condition although he was slightly bow legged. Percy went to train with the Battalion at Whitley in Surrey prior to embarking for France on the 7th August 1916.

After spending nine days at the base depot in Etaples Percy was transferred to the 1/4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment joining them in the field on the 17th August 1916, he was also given the new service number of 6252. Prior to his arrival the 1/4th Battalion had been involved in the Battle of the Somme and had recently been in action around Guillemont and as a result of this action they had suffered heavy casualties and were in need of reinforcements.

Extract from the Battalion War History

“The 55th Division was relieved on the night of 14th-15th August and moved back to the west of Abbeville to rest and refit, having done good work while up in the front.

Having received two strong drafts from the Manchester and East Lancashire Regiments, totalling 219 non-commissioned officers and men, the Battalion spent the rest period in billets at Saigneville and later at Millencourt.

On the 7th September 1916 the Brigade was recalled to the front, and the Battalion marched from Fricourt for Montauban. This particular sector of the front line extended from the eastern edge of Delville Wood in the direction of Ginchy. The 1/4th Battalion and the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers occupied the trenches with “B” and “C” Companies in the front and “A” Company in support. An attack was planned for the afternoon of the 9th September.

The Battalion War History continues;

“The British artillery was in action all day and at 4pm the barrage started; at 4.45pm the Division on our left attacked. Our objective was to capture Hop Alley with “B” and “C” Companies, whilst the Lancashire Fusiliers were to go over with us and take Ale Alley. At 5.25 the Battalion went over, and the first objective Hop Alley, was regained, but the second wave did not succeed in reaching Ale Alley, and as Hop Alley had become untenable under intense machine-gun barrage and gun-fire, the remnant of “B” and “C” Companies fell back to their original line. Supporting companies from the 1/8th Kings Liverpool and 1/4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiments were sent up to strengthen the line, whilst working parties consolidated the position. Sergeant H Farnworth was awarded the D.C.M. for good work in this attack.”

The casualties had been heavy, 24 men were killed and 125 non-commissioned men and a number of Officers wounded, 79 men were declared missing.

Unfortunately Percy Robinson was seriously wounded and was admitted to 36 casualty clearing station with gun-shot wounds to his jaw and chest. Sadly, Percy died from his wounds three days later on the 12th September.

Thomas and Ellen Robinson received unofficial confirmation about their son`s death in a letter which was sent to the Reverend J G Greaves in Nelson from a Wesleyan Chaplain in France.

17th September 1916 – My Dear Mr Greaves – on September 12th I conducted the funeral service of 4706 (sic) Private P Robinson of the North Lancashire Regiment,  who died of wounds in the casualty clearing station, on September 11th. It was my duty to examine his kit and private effects, which in due time will be forwarded to his next of kin. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any address to which I could write,  but, amongst other things I found a Wesley Guild syllabus of the Bradley Hall, Leeds Road, Nelson. I am writing to you in the hope that you know his people and may be able to convey some information to them. Private Robinson was badly wounded, and  from the first there was very little hope of his recovery. He was buried in a little wayside cemetery not far from the line, and a cross has been erected to his memory. Please convey to his relatives my sincere sympathy, and tell them that he died bravely, and manifested courage and patience, and, above all, a strong trust in Christ, right up to the end. I shall be deeply grateful if you will do this, and additionally obliged if you will let me have a line to say that you have seen his people.

Kind regards, yours very sincerely, J R Batey, C F Wesleyan Chaplain

A number of Percy`s personal effects were later returned to his parents in Nelson which included; 1 ID Disc, 1 letter, 1 pipe and pipe cleaner, 1 AB 50 form, 1 pair nail clippers, 1 silver watch, 1 match box cover, 1 tobacco pouch and 1 cigar punch.

Percy was buried in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L`Abbe. After the war his parents signed for their son`s British War and Victory Medals.

Rank: Private
Service No: 6252
Date of Death: 12/09/1916
Age: 24
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Grave Reference: IV. C. 46.

Note; The CWGC record and his service papers have recorded Percy`s date of death as 12th September 1916, not the 11th as the Chaplain had written .

Additional family information

11318 Private Harry Dunderdale Robinson, 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards.
Embarked for France April 1915, wounded May 1916 and then returned to France. Killed in action 18th December 1916. His name is recorded on Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme. Harry was awarded 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

65045 Private Gilbert Robinson 13th Battalion Royal Fusiliers.
Posted as missing (presumed dead) on the 24th April 1917 aged 19 years. His name is inscribed on the Arras Memorial to the Missing. Gilbert was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

5634 Gunner Edgar Robinson – Royal Field Artillery.
Enlisted 4/10/15 and embarked for France 29/7/16. Discharged 28/12/17 – Silver War Badge No. 297550. Edgar`s discharge papers state that he was admitted with `shell shock` on the 20th February 1917. His cause of discharge is later noted as being due to `feeblemindedness`.  His papers also state that the origin of his ill health `is unknown` and was not caused, but aggravated by service during present war. Edgar was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

23663 Private Walter Robinson – 9th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment
Enlisted 13/6/16 and served in Salonika. Contracted pneumonia and admitted to hospital 21/9/18 – 27/9/18. Discharged 20th November 1919 and was said to be suffering the effects of malaria. Eventually transferred to Class Z. Awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

Percy, Gilbert and Harry Robinson are all remembered on the gravestone of their parents in Nelson Cemetery. Harry`s date of death is given as 18th December 1916 by the CWGC although it has been recorded as 13th December on the gravestone.6252 Private Percy Robinson 2

Janet Davis
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