Private 38619 Robert Edmunds

 Edmunds Robert 96 456x600

Killed in Action on Tuesday, 20th November 1917, age 21.
Commemorated on Panel 5 of Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, Nord, France.

1st Bn., Lancashire Fusiliers. 86th Brigade of 29th Division.
Formerly 36330 South Staffordshire Regiment.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Unknown, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Salem Chapel Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1752694/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
27 Providence Street, Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs.
Robert Edmunds (34, Cutter Down at Iron Mill, born Tipton), his wife Emma (31, born West Bromwich), and their 5 children: Elizabeth (11, born Tipton), Annie (8, born Tipton), Robert (4, born Tipton), John (2, born Tipton), Alfred (1 month, born Tipton).

1911 Census
15 Providence Street, Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs.
Robert Edmunds (44, Yard Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Emma (41, born West Bromwich), and 5 of their 7 surviving children of 9: Robert (14, Worker in Iron Foundry, born Tipton), John (12, School, born Tipton), Alfred (10, School, born Tipton), Emma (6, School, born Tipton), and William (1, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After Robert's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £5/1/10d (5 pounds, 1 shilling and 10 pence); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Emma, in April 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Robert had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Cambrai saw the use of 380 British tanks in front of the infantry to cut the wire and suppress hostile machine guns. This was intended to make a breach in the Hindenburg Line through which cavalry could pass in order to cut off most of the German troops in front of Cambrai.

The attack began at 6.20 am on the 20th November, and the first phase of the battle was a complete success. The Germans had been totally surprised and the Hindenburg Line on the frontage of attack had been captured very quickly without much opposition.

The 29th Division was in reserve, awaiting the breaking of the Hindenburg Line. They were then to pass through, capture Masnieres and Marcoing. The 1st Lancashire Fusiliers were responsible for the mopping-up of Marcoing, after which they were to dig in and be in brigade reserve, ready to counter-attack if required.

As the first wave advanced, the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers moved forward into the newly vacated British Front Line awaiting orders; at 10.30 am they were ordered forward to Marcoing. At 11.00 am the battalion crossed the Hindenburg Line and at 11.30 am crossed the Hindenburg Support Line. The village of Marcoing was cleared with little opposition by 1 pm. The battalion was then disposed around a sunken road leading west from Marcoing towards Flesquieres. By 2.30 pm the task of consolidation was well in hand, and the rest of the day passed uneventfully.

Up to that point the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers had suffered only two casualties on the day. Two men had been wounded by German snipers lying hidden in long grass west of Marcoing and only firing when the leading waves had passed them. It is possible that Robert Edmunds was one of these two men wounded by German snipers. He was the only man of the 1st Lancashires killed on that day, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial at Louverval.

The successful advances of the first day were not followed up, sowing the seeds for the ultimate failure of Cambrai. By the time the battle closed on 30th November, as much territory had been lost as had been gained.

Newspaper Cuttings

West Bromwich Free Press, probably December 1917
News has been received that Private Robert Edmunds - a local man - was killed in action on the 20th November 1917. Before being called up he was employed as a blower at Pearson's Glass Works, Charles Street, West Bromwich. His parents reside at 15 Providence Street.