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Fred Robinson

Private Frederick Robinson, 202543, Royal Berkshire Regiment, 2nd/4th Battalion

Fred Robinson was born in Horbury on the 28th September 1893 and was baptised at Horbury Primitive Methodist Chapel on the 26th October 1893. He was the third child and third son of grocer Oliver Robinson and his wife Sarah (nee Nield) who married in 1890. The couple had six children from their marriage. All the family were born in Horbury.

In 1901 and 1911 Oliver and Sarah Robinson were living on School Lane, Horbury with their children, including Fred. Oliver Robinson was a carrier for the Cooperative stores and latterly a confectionery van driver. Fred Robinson worked for the local wagon works as an iron screwer.

Fred was aged 24 and living at School Lane, Horbury when he married Florence Wilson, of Ryecroft Street, Ossett, at Ossett Holy Trinity Church on the 8th December 1917. Fred’s rank or profession at the time of his marriage was a tank fitter and it is likely that the marriage took place whilst Fred was on leave from the army.

The South Ossett Parish Roll of Honour records that Fred Robinson died on the 21st March 1918 when he was serving in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and at that time his home address was 53, Manor Road, Ossett. The database "U.K. Soldiers died in the Great War: 1914-1918" records that Frederick Robinson’s place of birth was Leeds and that his place of residence was South Ossett.

Fred Robinson enlisted at Glastonbury and joined the Somersetshire Light Infantry Regiment with the service number 1993. He was subsequently transferred to the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment) with the service number 202543. This record indicates that he was killed in action on the 2nd April 1918. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission record indicates that he was killed on the 21st March 1918.

Private Fred Robinson was posthumously awarded the British and Victory medals, but not the 1914/15 Star, indicating that he did not serve overseas before the 31st December 1915.

The 2nd/4th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment was raised at Reading on the 6th November 1914 as a second line unit. They undertook training at Maidenhead, moving to Chelmsford in April 1915 and then to Salisbury Plain in March 1916. They proceeded to France with the 184th Brigade in 61st (2nd South Midland) Division, landing at Le Havre on the 27th of May 1916. The suffered heavy casualties at Fromelles in July 1916 and saw action on The Somme and Third Battle of Ypres in 1917, St Quentin, The Somme, the Battles of the Lys and in Picardy during 1918, ending the war near Cambrai.

As part of the 184th Infantry Brigade, the 2nd/4th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment were located at Gricourt-Fayet, St Quentin Wood on the 21st March 1918 and would catch the brunt of the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael, during the Battle of St. Quentin.

"On 21 March 1918, the enemy launched what was intended to be a decisive offensive, attacking the British Fifth and Third Armies on the Somme in overwhelming strength. The 61st (2nd South Midland) Division was holding the forward zone of defences in the area northwest of Saint Quentin in the area of Ham and lost many men as it fought a chaotic but ultimately successful withdrawal back over the Somme crossings over the next ten days. In the initial clash, the South Midland faced three enemy Divisions and only began to retire on the afternoon of 22 March, when ordered to do so in consequence of the enemy's progress at other parts of the line." 1

Private Frederick Robinson, died on the 21st March 1918. He is remembered on Panel 56 and 57 at the Pozieres Memorial,2 Somme, France. Pozieres is a village 6 kilometres north-east of the town of Albert. The Memorial encloses Pozieres British Cemetery which is a little south-west of the village on the north side of the main road, D929, from Albert to Pozieres.

The Pozieres Memorial relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields, and the months that followed before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8 August 1918.

The Memorial commemorates over 14,000 casualties of the United Kingdom and 300 of the South African Forces who have no known grave and who died on the Somme from 21 March to 7 August 1918. The Corps and Regiments most largely represented are The Rifle Brigade with over 600 names, The Durham Light Infantry with approximately 600 names, the Machine Gun Corps with over 500, The Manchester Regiment with approximately 500 and The Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery with over 400 names.

The memorial encloses Pozieres British Cemetery, Plot II of which contains original burials of 1916, 1917 and 1918, carried out by fighting units and field ambulances. The remaining plots were made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields immediately surrounding the cemetery, the majority of them of soldiers who died in the Autumn of 1916 during the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme, but a few represent the fighting in August 1918.

There are now 2,758 Commonwealth servicemen buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 1,380 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 23 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. There is also one German soldier buried here.

References:

1. The 61st (2nd South Midland) Division in 1914-1918

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site