J Burntwood & District Memorials Project

The Burntwood & District War Memorial Project

Servicemen Biographies

William Robinson

Burntwood Family History

Researched and written by Gail Fynes
 
William ROBINSON (*1)
 
William ROBINSON (left) (*2)

William ROBINSON (seated right) (*3)
William ROBINSON (right) (*4)
 
William ROBINSON was born on the 28th December 1887 (registered March Qtr 1888), at Woodhouses, near Burntwood being the fifth child of William ROBINSON and his wife Ellen nee BRIDGWATER.
 
1891 census – household transcription (*A)
 
ROBINSON, William - 2 Moss Cross Cottage, Green Lane, Burntwood
 
Name
Relation
Status
Sex
Age
Birth Year
Occupation / Disability
Where Born 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ROBINSON, William
Head
Married
M
34
1857
Coal Miner
Wall, Staffs
ROBINSON, Ellen
Wife 
Married 
30 
1861 
Dressmaker
On Own Account 
Whittington, Staffs
ROBINSON, Agnes
Daughter
 
11 
1880 
Scholar 
Burntwood, Staffs
ROBINSON, James
Son
 
1882 
Scholar 
Burntwood, Staffs
ROBINSON, Arthur
Son 
 
1884 
Scholar 
Woodhouses, Staffs
ROBINSON, Ellen
Daughter
 
F
5
1882 
Scholar 
Woodhouses, Staffs
ROBINSON, William
Son
 
3
1888 
 
Woodhouses, Staffs
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By the time of the 1901 Census the family had moved to Jubilee Cottage, Gorstey Ley. Another child Alice had been born in 1892. Older son Arthur had already joined the army and at the age of 17 was a private in the Infantry Line based at Chatham Barracks. Sister Ellen was in domestic service at Tamworth.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1901 census – household transcription (*B)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ROBINSON, William - Jubilee Cottages, Gortsey Lane, Burntwood, Edial, And Woodhouses, Burntwood
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name
Relation
Status
Sex
Age
Birth Year
Occupation / Disability
Where Born
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ROBINSON, William
Head 
Married 
44 
1857 
Coal Miner Banksman
Wall, Staffs
ROBINSON, Ellen
Wife 
Married 
40 
1861 
Dressmaker 
Whittington, Staffs 
ROBINSON, James
Son 
 
19 
1882 
Baker's Assistant
Burntwood, Staffs 
ROBINSON, William
Son
 
13 
1888 
Coal Miner
Labourer on Pit Bank 
Burntwood, Staffs
ROBINSON, Alice
Daughter
 
1892
Scholar 
Burntwood, Staffs 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1901 census – household transcription (*C)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ROBINSON, Arthur - Chatham Barracks, Chatham
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name
Relation
Status
Sex
Age
Birth Year
Occupation / Disability 
Where Born
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ROBINSON, Arthur
 
Single 
17 
1884 
Private Infantry (Line) 
Burntwood, Staffs
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1911 census – household transcription (*D)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ROBINSON, William - Rugeley Road, Burntwood, Staffs
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name
Relation 
Status 
Sex 
Age 
Birth Year 
Occupation / Disability
Where Born 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ROBINSON, William
Head
Married
54 
1857 
Colliery Labourer Surface 
Wall, Staffs 
ROBINSON, Ellen
Wife
Married
50
1861
Dressmaker
Whittington, Staffs
ROBINSON, Arthur
Son
Single 
27
1884
Coal Miner Hewer
Burntwood, Staffs
ROBINSON, William
Son
Single
M
23
1888
Colliery Labourer Surface
Burntwood, Staffs
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The 1911 Census finds the family living at Jubilee Cottage, Rugley Road, Burntwood. Arthur is out of the Amy and working as a Coal Miner Hewer. William is a Surface Colliery Labourer.

Arthur was probably called up early in the war as he had previously been in the army. He received the 1914 Star which means he was in France and saw active service before 31 December 1915.

William joined the 8th Regiment North Staffordshire becoming Private 4479 + 40842 and he was part of the D/103 Btn pg 152. He was killed on the 7th June 1917 at Oostterverne Wood, Ypres. No trace was found of his body, so his parents William and Ellen have his name and details on their gravestone, also at the Christchurch War Memorial, Burntwood. 8th (Service) Battalion Formed at Lichfield on 18 September 1914 as part of K2 and became part of 57th Brigade in 19th (Western) Division. Moved to Salisbury Plain for training and went into billets in Bristol in December 1914 and in February 1915 moved to Weston-super-Mare before going to Tidworth in April. They landed in France on 18 July 1915.

7th February 1918 : transferred to 56th Brigade in same Division.

The 8th Btn. North Staffordshire Regiment served with the 19th Division near the Hollandscheschurr Farm mines, during the 1917 Battle of Messines. (E) 
Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1918 – soldier details (*F) Name:                                    ROBINSON, WilliamInitials:                                  WNationality:                           United KingdomRank:                                      PrivateRegiment / Service:              North Staffordshire RegimentUnit Text:                               8th Bn.Age:                                        29Date of Death:                       07/06/1919Service Number:                    40842Additional Information:        Son of William and Ellen Robinson, of Jubilee Cottage, Rugeley Rd., Burntwood, Lichfield, Staffs.Casualty Type:                      Commonwealth War DeadGrave / Memorial Ref:          Panel 55.Memorial:                             Ypres (Menin Gate) MemorialCemetery:                             Ypres (Menin Gate) MemorialCountry:                                BelgiumLocality:                                Ieper, West-Vlaanderen
 Visiting Information:Panel Numbers quoted at the end of each entry relate to the panels dedicated to the Regiment with which the casualty served. In some instances, where a casualty is recorded as attached to another Regiment, his name may appear within their Regimental Panels. Please refer to the on-site Memorial Register Introduction. The Addenda Panel lists those service personnel whose details are awaiting addition to the Regimental Panels. All odd panel numbers are on the North side of the road and even numbers are located on the South side of the road. Steps on either side of the memorial leading to the rear of the memorial, make wheel-chair access to the rear impossible. There is however, a slope at the side of the memorial which gives wheelchair users some access but due to the incline, it may not be possible to ascend/descend unaided. Location Information:Ypres (now Ieper) is a town in the Province of West Flanders. The Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road to Menin (Menen) and Courtrai (Kortrijk). Each night at 8 pm the traffic is stopped at the Menin Gate while members of the local Fire Brigade sound the Last Post in the roadway under the Memorial's arches. Historical Information:The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war. The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence. There was little more significant activity on this front until 1917, when in the Third Battle of Ypres an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success, but the main assault north-eastward, which began at the end of July, quickly became a dogged struggle against determined opposition and the rapidly deteriorating weather. The campaign finally came to a close in November with the capture of Passchendaele. The German offensive of March 1918 met with some initial success, but was eventually checked and repulsed in a combined effort by the Allies in September. The battles of the Ypres Salient claimed many lives on both sides and it quickly became clear that the commemoration of members of the Commonwealth forces with no known grave would have to be divided between several different sites. The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates those of all Commonwealth nations, except New Zealand, who died in the Salient, in the case of United Kingdom casualties before 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). Those United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. Other New Zealand casualties are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery. The YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer on 24 July 1927. 
Number of Identified Casualties:            54394

Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium (*5)                          William ROBINSON's name is on Penel 55,
                                                                                     Menin Gate plan, Ypres, Belgium (*6)

Map of Ypres (*7)                                         Battle of Messines 1917 (*8)  

Great Britain Great War Casualties 1914-1918

               Mobilised          Dead            Wounded           Missing & PoW          Dead %           Wounded %          Missing & PoW8,904,467          908,371        2,090,212           191,652                     10.20%             23.47%                  2.15%

 

Messines Ridge (*9) 

 At 0310 hrs on Thursday 7th June, 1917 the British Second Army under General Sir Herbert PLUMER started an attack which in three hours resulted in the capture of the whole of the Messines Ridge on the South side of the Ypres Salient.

The attack effectively began on 3rd June when the preliminary bombardment intensified, and was kept up until 0250 hrs on 7th June. By this time, 100 000 men of the Second Army were lying in position waiting to attack. The weather was clear with a bright moon. The sudden silence spooked the Germans who started firing flares in an effort find an explanation. Twenty minutes of tension packed waiting culminated in a loud bang, followed seven seconds later by a continuous series of huge explosions which tore at the German front line and threw the watching British, 400 metres away, off their feet.The British rose from their trenches under cover of the renewed barrage of every gun available. Nine divisions of infantry advanced through the clouds of smoke and dust and within minutes, the whole of the German front line was in British hands. Three hours later, the whole of the Messines Ridge was taken. No official figures were ever released regarding German casualties but there were 7,354 prisoners taken. There were 10,000 reported missing and over 6 000 known dead. British casualties numbered 16,000 of which about 30% were killed.The success of the assault was in large part due to the explosion of 19 mines tunnelled under the German front line. Preparation work started in 1915 but it was only in the winter of 1916 that serious preparations took place. Twenty two mines were dug, some up to 2160 feet (658 metres) long and up to 125 feet (38 metres) deep. One mine (at Petite Douve Farm) was discovered by German counter miners on 24th August 1916 and destroyed. Two mines close to Ploegsteert Wood were not exploded as they were outside the attack area, more about these mines later.The explosion was heard by David Lloyd GEORGE, the British Prime Minister who was in his study in 10 Downing Street in London, there is even a report of an insomniac student hearing it in University College, Dublin.

The two unexploded mines were planned to be dismantled by the British but with the impending start of the Third Battle of Ypres, there was always something else to do. When the Germans launched their Lys Offensive in April, 1918, the British HQ was overrun and documents relating to the two mines were lost and they never were dug up. The precise location of them was not known and they were forgotten until during a thunderstorm on 17th July, 1955, one of them exploded. No one was killed but the explosion did some slight damage to some distant property. The other mine is still, as far as anyone knows, still lurking under the Flanders countryside. (G)

 A view from a German pillbox down towards the Allied lines (approx where the farm stands today), this gives a clear indication of the supremacy the Germans had over British in regard to position. (*10)   A preserved German pillbox on Messines Ridge (*11) 

 

Notes and References 

(*A)      Extract from the 1891 census © (Ancestry.co.uk)

(*B)     Extract from the 1901 census © (Ancestry.co.uk)

(*C)     Extract from the 1901 census © (Ancestry.co.uk)

(*D)     Extract from the 1911 census © (Ancestry.co.uk)

(*E)     Extract from the Long Trail © (The Long Trail)

(*F)      Extract from the CWGC © (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

(*G)     Extract from "War Underground - The Tunnellers of the Great War" © (Alexander Barrie) and courtesey of Ian Jones Item, Source and Credit

 (*1)      Photograph William ROBINSON © Gail Fynes (BFHG)

(*2)      Photograph William ROBINSON © Gail Fynes (BFHG)

(*3)      Photograph William ROBINSON © Gail Fynes (BFHG)

(*4)      Photograph William ROBINSON © Gail Fynes (BFHG)

(*5)      Menin Gate © Alan Betts (BFHG)

(*6)      Menin Gate plan © (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

(*7)      Ypres map © (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

(*8)      Messines map © (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

(*9)      Messines Ridge photograph - Ypres and the Great War © (Simon Farr)

(*10)    German pill box - Ypres and the Great War © (Simon Farr)

(*11)    German pill box - Ypres and the Great War © (Simon Farr)

 

Burntwood Family History Group

 

 

 

(C) Mike Woolridge - Site Last Updated 01 November 2014