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Robson, W.T., Pte., 1918

Belgian Corner Cemetery: Pauline Priano

Belgian Corner Cemetery: Pauline Priano

In Belgian Battery Corner Military Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium, is the Commonwealth War Grave of 75536 Private William Telfer Robson serving with the 19th Battalion Durham Light Infantry who died 13/09/1918.

Pauline Priano has submitted the following:-

William Telfer Robson was one of 12 children, of whom only 6 survived. 3 sons, 2 daughters and 1 gender unknown. His parents Thomas and Mary Robson were married in 1883, Thomas was born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland in 1860, Mary at Gateshead, County Durham in 1863. William Telfer was born in 1892, Robert Wood 1893, John Thomas 1900, Sarah Ann 1903 and Mary Elizabeth 1904, all registered at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In 1901 they were living at 102, Albion Row, Byker, a suburb of Newcastle, Thomas was employed a a stationary engine fireman. By 1911 they had moved into 2 rooms at 106, Clifford Street, Byker, Thomas was now a labourer and Robert (17) a plater at the shipyard, William (19) a metal trimmer at the foundry of a motor cylinder maker.

When war was declared with Germany William was unable to enlist as at 5 feet 2 inches he was below the required minimum height of 5 feet 3 inches he did however spend time as a reservist. As the initial rush of men wanting to enlist subsided the War Office lowered the minimum to 5 feet, he enlisted at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, March 17th 1916, aged 23 years and was assigned as Private 75536 to the Army Reserve, free to return to his parent's home at 4, Suffolk Street, Jarrow, Newcastle and his employment as a bench hand.

March 3rd 1917 William Telfer Robson was married at Wesley Hall, Beaumont Street, Elswick, Newcastle to Miss Eliza Katherine Lucy Parsons, also known as Elsie, born December 27th 1890 at Lambeth, London, settling at 45, Clydesdale Road, Byker.

Private Robson departed for Usworth Camp near Sunderland, May 16th 1917, and was still in England in 1917, hospitalised from October 11th to the 19th at Newcastle Infirmary suffering from scabies.

Exactly when Private 75536 William Telfer Robson departed to the front is unknown, however, he was posted to the 11th Battalion, the 14th and lastly the 19th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. The 19th was a Bantam Battalion for men of his stature attached to the 106th Brigade, 35th Division. In late 1917 they were at Passchendaele in Belgium and remained in the Ypres sector until February 1918 when the 19th Battalion transferred to the 104th Brigade, 35th Division. They fought during the First Battle of Bapaume, March 24th-25th, and the Final Advance in Flanders (Belgium) until the Armistice of November 11th 1918.

Private 75536 William Telfer Robson was killed in action, September 13th 1918 on the outskirts of Ypres, Belgium, and interred at Belgian Battery Corner Military Cemetery, grave II. M. 8.

His widow received all monies due to him in February 1919, his awards of the British War Medal and Victory Medal and during 1926 she commissioned at a cost of 4 shillings 4 pence an additional inscription to be added to his military headstone, it reads, “Till We Meet Again.”

Eliza (Elsie) Katherine Lucy Potter during 1920 had emigrated to the U.S.A. where she was employed as a nurse and married, September 22nd 1926, at Bloomfield, Oakland, Birmingham, Michigan to ex-serviceman Harry Miles Shane of Bloomfield, an American national born October 10th 1895. Eliza initiated divorce proceedings at Birmingham, October 10th 1929, cause of divorce listed as non-support and desertion, the decree was granted, April 21st 1930.

In 1930 Eliza was working as a servant/cook in the home of the Serling family at Bloomfield, where she re-married, October 1st 1931 to publisher, Edgar J. Ford, a widower, born in England in 1887 who had emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1926 with his first wife Olive.

Eliza (Elsie) Katherine Lucy Ford-Shane-Robson nee Parsons died, July 7th 1976, at Highland Park, Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, aged 84 years. The death of Edgar had preceded that of her own, September 22nd 1948, aged 61 years, at Grosse Point Park, Wayne, Michigan.

Although William’s brother Robert Wood Robson would have been eligible to enlist no record has been found.

It should be noted the entry Soldiers Died WW1 lists the details for D.L.I. Pte 39667 William Robson of Gateshead under the name of William Telfer Robson and visa versa lists the details for Private 75536 William Telfer Robson D.L.I. of Newcastle under the name of W Robson. Both entries are listed correctly by the CWGC.

In God’s safe keeping. Rest In Peace

William Telfer Robson is not remembered on a local War memorial.

The CWGC entry for Private Robson

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk