MENDHAM, Robert William
served as Robert William WELSH

No.D/21403,Lance Corporal, Robert William WELSH
Aged 46

9th (H.D.)Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Died on Monday, 30th December 1940

Robert William MENDHAM was born in Snailwell (Newmarket Q4-1889 3B:517), baptised in Snailwell on 10th November 1889, son of Robert James and Emma Mary MENDHAM (née FULLER)

1891 census...Aged 1, he was at East Fen Common, Soham with his father Robert [25] shepherd born Barton Mills and his mother Emma [23] born Exning.

1901 census...Aged 11, he was at Main Street, West Row, with his parents; brothers William [7] born Soham, and Percy [4] born Mildenhall; sisters Florence [9] born Soham and Ellen [1] born Mildenhall.

1911 census...He has not been identified in this census,it is not even known which surname he is using. His widowed mother was at West Row with his brothers William (farm labourer), Percy (shepherd) and Albert [8] born Mildenhall; sister Ellen (school). Of the 7 siblings, one had died. His father had died in 1908.

He seems to have married, as Robert William WELSH in Guildford in 1918 to Helena F ROBINSON perhaps who appears to have died in 1922 (as Fanny H Welsh). He was living at 12 Walton Terrace, Walton Road, Woking Surrey in 1924 with Albert Leonard ROBINSON (his father in law)(electoral register).
At that address in the 1939 register were widower Albert L ROBINSON [22-12-1858] a retired night watchman, his daughter, widow Almada V LADE [15-8-1889] and Ellen M MENDHAM [4-11-1919] single, engine packing maker, later LUMLEY. Ellen would appear to be the daughter of Robert, another twist in the name change scenario since she was registered at birth as Ellen M WELSH.

CWGC have his widow as Eleanor but no trace of her has been found elsewhere.

In the 1939 register it appears that his widowed mother Emma M [3-4-1867] was at the Green, West Row, with two young boys, James and George Waker, who were most likely evacuees.

His younger brother William died in France in 1917 see here and younger brother Percy died in Belgium in 1917 see here

In addition to changing his name, he appears to have taken off 5 years of his age.

It is not known under what name he might have served in WW1, his records have not been found either as Mendham or Welsh.
From his medals in the photograph he was abroad by 31st December 1915 as he has "Pip, Squeak and Wilfred", 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

In WW2 the 2nd/6th Home Duties Battalion, Suffolk Regiment was employed all over Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, on airfield guard duties mainly, the average age being around 50 years old. In November 1940 they became the 9th (HD) Battalion.

Two soldiers were killed during a bombing raid on the airfield in December 1940 and this may well be the incident. The Bury Free Press of 11th January 1941 reported :-
WEST ROW'S FIRST WAR CASUALTY - British Legion Tributes at Funeral

Great regret was expressed in West Row and the neighbourhood when it became known that Lance-Corporal Robert W.Mendham had lost his life through enemy air action "Somewhere in England"
Lance-Corporal Mendham served in the Great War 1914-1918 (having enlisted in 1907) and rejoined the Colours on the outbreak of the present war. Deceased, who was very popular and widely known, had, since its inception 12 years ago, been the official Standard Bearer of the West Row branch of the British Legion. He was also a member of the Branch Executive Committee and always at the forefront to assist in the activities of the Branch.
The sympathy of the entire village is extended to the deceased's aged mother and her family. Two brothers lost their lives in the Great War, 1914-18

The is a puzzle here, his death was, as expected, registered in Newmarket, but he appears to be buried in Haverhill as Robert William WELSH. Unfortunately the Bury Free Press article does not record the place of burial. No other connection to Haverhill has been found.

Robert William Mendham [Welsh] is buried in Haverhill Cemetery, grave u; 133
add also commemorated on the Mildenhall memorial

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