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2nd Lieutenant, Royal Engineers, Special Brigade.

Killed in action 1st July 1916, age 27.

Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

Former student of chemistry.


 

Robert was born in 1889, the son of Robert Taylor and Alice Ann Hardman of Chorlton–cum–Hardy. The family later moved to Bury and as a boy he was a pupil of Bury Grammar School and later in 1907 came to Manchester University gaining a BSc. in 1910 and MSc. in Chemistry in 1911. He went on to work in the U.S.A as a research chemist, but was living on Rochdale Road, Bury on the outbreak of World War One.

A former O.T.C member Robert joined the 7th Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment in November 1914, and later transferred to the Royal Engineers. By 1916 he was a 2nd Lieutenant with “C” Section, No 1 Mortar Company, 5th (Mortar) battalion, Special Brigade Royal Engineers. Though a specialist gas warfare unit, on the first day of the Somme No 1 Mortar Company was tasked in providing a smoke screen for the attacking infantry at Martinsart. “C” Section was to cross No Man’s Land and establish position’s on the enemy side after the initial assault had taken the German front line. This was timed to happen at zero hour +30. Robert his two fellow “C” Section officers 2nd Lieutenant Sutton and Lieutenant Swann led their men over the top in the wake of the Infantry. Sutton and Robert died during the attack. It was reported that Robert was attempting to carry a wounded comrade back to the there trenches when he was killed and the commanding officer wrote “It was a most courageous and gallant act, for he laid down his life to help a wounded comrade. I have unhesitatingly recommended him for posthumous honours.” Swann aided by Sergeant Potts and Corporal Gavin, who were both awarded the D.C.M. for their role, with a few men managed to reach their objective.

In 2005 Robert became embroiled in a sad controversy when a metal detectorist offered his identity disks and whistle on ebay. It seemed he had found them still on the remains while searching near Beaumont Hamel back in 1997, had removed them from the body and not reported finding remains, In 2005 he could no longer remember where he’d searched so even if the remains were found now they could no longer be identified as he removed the disks. Bury Grammar School attempted to have the lot taken down, and then offered to buy them, but they were sold to an anonymous Dutch collector for a rumored £200.