OLDHAM, Robert Edward

9803, Lance Corporal, Robert Edward OLDHAM
Aged 19

2nd Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company
Killed in Action on Tuesday, 9th October 1917

Robert Edward OLDHAM was born on 20th January 1898 in East Dereham (Mitford Q1-1898 4B:278), baptised East Dereham on 24th September 1898, son of Robert and Julia Matilda OLDHAM (née EGGLESTON).

1901 census...Aged 3, he was at 4 High Street, East Dereham with his father Robert OLDHAM [55] a baker/confectioner born Newark, Notts; his mother Julia M. [45] born Ickestone, Notts; his sister Julia M [10] born Derby.

1911 census...Aged 13, he was a pupil at the East Anglian School, Bury St. Edmunds. His widowed mother (private means) was at 5 Quebec Road, East Dereham with his sister Julia May.

From the "East Anglian Record" for Christmas 1913 he was in Form 5A and in August 1915 it appears that Robert was a prefect.

On the Army's "Living Relatives" form, completed by his mother on 7th July 1919, were herself (Heydon House, Quebec Road, East Dereham) and his brothers John E [41] and Arthur S [37] and sister J.Mary [28].

He enlisted in Lincoln, giving his age as 18 years 2 days, an engineer's apprentice resident in 24 Claremont Street, Lincoln. He was 5 feet 7.25 (170.9 cm)inches tall, chest 32" to 36" (81.3 to 91.4 cm), weighing 127 lbs ( 57.8 kg). Next of kin, his father Robert living at 5 Quebec Road, East Dereham.
Placed in Reserves he was mobilised on 2nd January 1917 at Armoury House E6 and to 1st Reserve battery on 5th January. Posted to the British Expeditionary Force (France) and the 2nd Battalion on 20th March 1917 from Southampton to Le Havre and the 8th Infantry Brigade Depot . He joined his unit in the field on 15th April 1917. Promoted to unpaid Lance Corporal on 25th September 1917
His personal belongings sent to his mother were letters, photos, safety razor and metal watch.

The war diary has:-
"Butte Polygonveld - 9-10-17- 4am Forming up complete. B Coy withdrew to Reserve in JOLTING SUPPORT TRENCH.
4.30 am 1 Platoon from Support Coy moved up to reinforce each of the attacking Coys to replace casualties
5 am In touch with R.Warwickshire Regt. Casualties during 8th and forming up 2 Lts HR BELDER and SE EAST and about 40 O Ranks including 3 Sgts from D Coy.
5:20 am Zero. Assault commenced.
5:25 Enemy counter barrage came down on line JOLTING and JUDGE TRENCHES from direction of BECELAERE. 2 Lieut HJ Shelbourne wounded 2 Lt RG GODDARD killed
5:30 am CAPT GARRETT cmdg Support Coy was wounded whilst going forward to reconnoitre
5:50 am Objective reached by isolated parties of men but owing to heavy losses especially officers and NCOs little news was sent back and the situation was obscure.
6:10 to 7:30 am During this period enemy barrage slackened but M.G. fire from direction of Judge Copse was practically continuous. GREEN LIGHTS (signal that objective had been gained) observed from JUDGE COTTAGE and CEMETERY and JUNIPER COT. Some of these were later proved to be enemy signals.
7:30 am 2 Lt R MELDRUM reported badly wounded. R W F took up their position as before the attack.
10 am CAPT. D.BRUNTON cmdg B Coy badly wounded in head and died shortly afterwards.
12:25 pm R.W.F. patrol reported as follows (a) Our troops seen near JUNIPER COTTAGE (b) One wounded officer and 2 men in gun pit near CEMETERY. About 40 OR along old trench thro REUTEL some were sent to GUN PIT. (c) Several men about PILL BOX near J.11.d.25.60
11.55 am CAPT MURRAY (Adjutant) left adv battn (?) centre to investigate above reports and was shortly afterwards shot through the head. Situation now as per map marked B in appendix.
about 5 pm RELIEF orders marked C in appendix received at Adv Bn report centre.
11:15 pm 2 Lt H R ADAMS proceeded to REUTEL with 37 OR B Coy with orders to effect relief.

PILL BOX as mentioned above

photo from the school archives

Robert Oldham is commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial, panel 7

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details