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  cap badgeLance Corporal Francis (Frank) Robertson

Royal Engineers 180th Tunnelling Company
Service No: 147585

Francis (Frank) Robertson grave

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Personal details

Family Information

Son of William Robertson and Helen (Ellen) Murphy Robertson of 13 Kelvin St, Greenend, Coatbridge. Frank's younger brother Private Robert Robertson (16916) was serving with the 2nd Battalion Cameron Highlanders at the time of his death. In his Will dated 29/02/1916 he left the whole of his effects to his father. From the 1891 Census - Address - 154 Calder St, Coatbridge - William Robertson aged 26, Ellen Robertson aged 24, Ellen Robertson aged 4, John Robertson aged 3, Mary Robertson aged 1, Francis Robertson aged 2 months. From the 1901 Census - Address - 26b Partick St, Coatbridge - William Robertson aged 36, Ellen Robertson aged 34, John Robertson aged 13, Mary Robertson aged 11, Francis Robertson aged 10, William Robertson aged 9, Robert Robertson aged 5, Arthur Robertson aged 3, Angus Robertson aged 1, Frank's uncle Arthur Murphy aged 23. Frank's Pension was awarded to his father William then his mother Helen (Ellen) on the 01/12/1917.

Born / Resided

Coatbridge / 13 Kelvin St, Greenend, Coatbridge

Died

Died of Wounds on the 29/05/1917 at the No.12 General Hospital, Rouen, France

Enlisted

Glasgow

Employed

Miner in Cairnhill Colliery

Age

26 / DOB - 30/01/1891

Buried / Remembered

St Sever Cemetery Extension (P. II. K. 4A), Rouen, France

Cemetery / Memorial Information

During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen. A base supply depot and the 3rd Echelon of General Headquarters were also established in the city. Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war. They included eight general, five stationary, one British Red Cross and one labour hospital, and No. 2 Convalescent Depot. A number of the dead from these hospitals were buried in other cemeteries, but the great majority were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever. In September 1916, it was found necessary to begin an extension, where the last burial took place in April 1920. The cemetery extension contains 8,348 Commonwealth burials of the First World War (ten of them unidentified) and in Block "S" there are 328 from the Second World War (18 of them unidentified). There are also 8 Foreign National burials here.

Additional Information

The 180th Tunnelling Company formed at Labuissiere in Autumn 1915 and moved into the Vermelles sector. It was engaged in constructing saps and trenches, in addition to much carrying work, during the Battle of Loos. They moved to the Givenchy area and were relieved there in early 1916 by the 255th Company. Tunnelling Companies of the Royal Engineers (underground warfare) : The war on the Western Front bogged down into siege conditions by November 1914. Both sides faced the need to break through the enemy’s defensive entrenched positions. It was not long before an ancient art was remembered and used most effectively: mining under the enemy lines, placing explosives and blowing them up. In some areas, both sides mined and counter-mined intensively. For the infantry above ground, the wait for underground explosions was nerve-wracking; indeed, for the men underground, hard toil often came accompanied by sudden death. The blowing of mines below enemy front line positions became a regular feature of local actions. Infantry tactics developed that would enable the rushing and capture of the crater formed by the explosions. The craters were often themselves a dominant ground feature, as the lip of earth thrown up was usually higher than the ground in the area, giving possible observation over the enemy. Crater fighting became a highly dangerous and unpleasant feature of many actions in 1915 and early 1916. Mining in support of larger infantry offensives was also adopted, with increasing numbers of mines of increasing size being used in the first minutes of the major British attacks at Aubers Ridge (May 1915), Loos (September 1915) and the Somme (July 1916). Gradually, the British tunnellers gained ascendancy. Frank Died of his Wounds at the No.12 General Hospital in Rouen, France (SEE PHOTOS X 2 FOR THE 180TH TUNNELLING COMPANY WAR DIARY FOR THE MONTH OF MAY 1917). Frank is listed as SAPPER on the Memorial. He was previously a Private with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (8774). See photos for Frank's Medal Index Card, his Newspaper clipping, his Army Register of Soldiers Effects, his Service Medal and Award Rolls, his CWGC Grave Registration x 2, his Headstone Report, another photo of Frank's Grave, St Sever Cemetery Extension, his Pension Records x 3, his former Regiment the Argyll and Sutherland Fusiliers Cap Badge, the Royal Engineers Cap Badge and the principal areas of mining activity in France and Flanders x 3. I have the 180th Tunnelling Company War Diary from August 1915 to May 1919. If required please contact the website. Finally see photos for Frank's younger brother Robert's Medal Index Card, his Service Medal and Awards Rolls x 2, his Pension Records x 2, Medical facilities in the Salonika city area in 1918, his Service Records x 19 and the Cameron Highlanders Cap Badge. Robert arrived in France on the 03/05/1915 and was with the 2nd Battalion who were part of the 81st Brigade, 27th Division. The Battalion moved to Salonika, arriving on the 05/12/1915. The 27th Division was ordered to Salonika in November 1915 and embarkation began on the 17th November, but it was not until the 13/02/1916 that the last units of the Division finally arrived. The Battalion and Division fought in many Battles in Salonika which Robert survived. On the 26/09/1918 Robert was in the 80th General Hospital, Salonika and was reported as being dangerously ill with Malaria and Bronchopneumonia. Malaria was a serious problem for the British Salonika Force, particularly for those units deployed into the Struma valley (Robert's was one of those). See photos for a table of Hospital admissions and deaths to this disease. Robert was discharged from the 2nd Battalion Cameron Highlanders on the 25/03/1919.

Photos
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War Diaries

The battalion War Diary is available on the National Archives website.

Creative Commons License

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