Private 203526 Robert Keeton

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 10th April 1918, age 38.
Commemorated on Panel 6 of Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium.

4th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 7th Brigade of 25th Division.

Husband of Mrs Clarissa Ann Keeton.
Born: Great Bridge, Enlisted: Nottingham, Resident: Unknown.

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

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/872074/

Genealogical Data

The 1881 census records Robert Keeton as being born Tipton just one year before. By then he was resident in Nottingham where he seemed to remain for the rest of his life.

1881 Census
75 Willoughby Street, Lenton, Nottingham.
Living in the household of Harriet Keeton (38, Widow, Provisions Dealer, born Nottingham) was her sister-in-law and child:
Hester Keeton (36, born Tipton), and her son: Robert (1, born Tipton).

1891 Census
13 Broadholme Street, Nottingham.
Hester Keeton (46, Widow, born Great Bridge), her son Robert (11, Scholar, born Great Bridge).

1901 Census
13 Broadholme Street, Nottingham.
Hester Keeton (56, Widow, born West Bromwich), her son Robert (21, Leather Dresser, born West Bromwich).

1911 Census
6 Warwick Street, Lenton, Nottingham.
Robert Keeton (31, Leather Dresser, born West Bromwich), his wife Clarissa Ann (29, born Sneinton, Notts), and their daughter Nora (3, born Lenton). Also Robert's mother Hester (66, born West Bromwich).

Personal Data

Soldiers Died in the Great War' shows Robert being born in Tipton; this was very nearly his only connection. By the age of 1, he and his mother had moved to Nottingham where he spent the rest of his life.

After Robert's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £5/0/3d (5 pounds and 3 pence); this was paid to his widow, Clara, in January 1920. His War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Clara in January 1920. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Robert had enlisted in approximately January 1917.

Action resulting in his death

In the early morning of 9th April the German Fourth and Sixth Armies launched the Flanders offensive, operation "Georgette", the second in the planned series of attacks on the Allied Front for spring 1918. In the south of the Ypres Salient sector the British Second Army was pushed westwards, losing its hold of the Messines Ridge, Wytschaete and Messines villages which had been captured from the German Army in June 1917. This was the second phase of 4th Ypres (the Battle of the Lys), and is known as the Battle of Messines.

The 4th South Staffs, one of the Battalions of 7th Brigade of 25th Division, was to the north east of Ploegsteert manning the front line opposite Warneton. They held their position with severe loses during the morning, but were forced to pull back to Hill 63 (The Catacombs), just to the north of Ploegsteert village.

61 men of the 4th Battalion, South Staffs were killed on 10th April, 3 were from Tipton: Hodson, Keeting and Titley. Hodson is buried in Strand Military Cemetery, the other 2 are commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

War Diary 10th April 1918
Enemy attack opened about 3.30 am with heavy shelling of back area by Gas Shells. At 5.30 am he opened his barrage on front and support lines lasting about an hour, then lengthened to Reserve on line about GREY FARM. "C" Company in front line wiped out. No. 6 platoon "B" Company withdrew to WATCHFUL POST owing to severity of shelling, ordered to retake USEFUL POST at all costs, platoon moved forward but was unable to re-occupy the position. The Gloucesters on the left and 10th Cheshires on the right having withdrawn, orders issued to withdraw to WATCHFUL POST. Battalion withdrew to Catacombs. At 2.00 pm order to re-occupy old positions, re-occupied 5.00 pm. Bosch attacked 7.00 pm, GREY FARM garrison stood fast, remainder of battalion withdrew to HILL 63 position isolated. Battalion withdrew to NEUVE EGLISE.

Newspaper Cuttings