Cpl. R.H. Robson

FIRST NAMES: Robert Herdman

UNIT: 12th Yorkshire Regiment

NUMBER: 46129

STATUS: Killed in Action

DATE OF DEATH: 11th April 1918

CEMETERY OR MEMORIAL: Croix-du-Bac British Cemetery, Steenwerck, France

AGE: 33

Corporal Robson was born and enlisted in Northallerton. He was the son of T.C. and J. Robson of Northallerton. His wife's name was Fanny Maud, and they lived on South Parade, Northallerton.

He had formerly served in the Royal Engineers (No. 143324) before joining the Yorkshire Regiment.

He was killed,aged 33, during what became known as the Battle of the Lys, which took place during the German March Offensive in 1918. His Battalion had been involved in very heavy fighting trying to stem the German advance near the village of Sailly-sur-la-Lys, near Armentieres, and he was killed on the very day on which they were pulled out of the fighting and retired to the Reserve Line. During the previous two days of bitter fighting, the Battalion suffered a total of 299 casualties.

He was initially reported as "Missing" and then as being a prisoner of war. Later it was announced that as no further news had been heard, Corporal Robson was listed as "missing presumed killed".

The confusion over his fate is not resolved by the fact that his body was eventually identified and he now lies buried in Croix-du-Bac British Cemetery, Steenwerck, which is very close to where his Battalion was fighting. This cemetery was used by the Allies, but also by the Germans after they had captured the area in April 1918, and again by the Allies when they recaptured the area a few months later. It was also enlarged after the Armistice, by the concentration of graves from neighbouring cemeteries.

The most likely explanation is that he died shortly after being captured by the Germans and was buried either in Croix-du-Bac Cemetery itself, or, more likely, in one of the neighbouring cemeteries from which the bodies were transferred to Croix-du-Bac after the Armistice. News of his capture reached England, but not news of his death and his grave was not identified until well after the Armistice, perhaps only when it was moved to its present resting place in Croix-du-Bac Cemetery.