Old Whittington War Memorial people places trades Sydall Swanwick
Robert Bunting was born in 1895 to Robert and Sarah Jane. On 6th May 1895 he was baptised at Newbold cum Dunston.
The family were living at 41 Cavendish Square and Robert was a foreman.
By the 1901 census the family are listed as living at 9 Cavendish Square which was on Sheepbridge.
(Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Pemberton)
By the 1911 census the family have moved are still living at Cavendish Square but now at number 7.
There are now 10 children living at home and as you can see from the detail on the census 12 children were born to Robert and Sarah Jane, but sadly only 10 children are still alive. Robert is now 16 years old and working as a Pony driver in the pit.
The next information I have for Robert is one year later when he is 17, below is a transcription of an entry in the Derbyshire Courier 23rd July 1912.
Accident – A youth named Robert Bunting (17) of 7 Sheepbridge Square, was admitted into the Chesterfield Hospital last week, suffering from an injury to his foot, sustained at Glapwell Colliery.
Obviously Robert was working at Glapwell Pit and quite possibly so was his elder brother John. Glapwell Colliery was owned by Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co. The pit was actually at Ault Hucknall which is approx 10 miles away from Sheepbridge where Robert lived. The Colliery owners ran the ‘Paddy Mail’ to provide transport to and from work for the miners. This could have been how Robert got from Sheepbridge to Glapwell Colliery.
Below is an excerpt taken from http://www.oldminer.co.uk/glapwell-station.html explaining how the ‘Paddy mail’ operated.
This line also carried men into the local collieries by Paddy Mail, the train was laid on by the colliery owners and the railway company to provide transport to and from work at the collieries. The carriages were crude and worn out, they had bench seats, windows missing or were just empty coal wagons for the miners to ride in ‘The Paddy Mail’ was provided because it was illegal for work men, in the days before pit head baths, to frequent ordinary railway carriages in their ‘dirt’ (working clothes), and the men if caught were liable to be prosecuted by the railway company. The main runs for the trains were from Chesterfield to the Staveley collieries and iron works, Dronfield to the Grassmoor collieries and coke works and Staveley to Glapwell colliery. Coal from this colliery and Langwith colliery were exported worldwide by the railway companies with the coal being shipped both locally and to and then from the extensive coal handling facilities of the Humber ports.
The next record for Robert are his military records. Unfortunately, Roberts enlistment records were destroyed in 1940 when a German bombing raid struck the War Office repository in Arnside Street, London. However, we do know that Robert first enlisted in the Notts and Derbyshire Regiment under Service Number 23385. At some point he was transferred to The 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers Service Number 24088.
According to his record card he arrived at Gallipoli 24th August 1915. The Battalion were later sent to France, via Egypt, and arrived in March 1916.
Robert was Killed in Action on 1st July 1916 on what was the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was 21 years old. At some point he had been promoted to Lance Corporal, the next step up from a Private.
On 1st July the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers were involved in attacking Beaumont Hamel as part of the 86th Brigade. The Battle of the Somme was recorded as one of the bloodiest Battles of World War One and lasted for five months. A short history on the Battle of the Somme can be found here
The excerpt below is taken from the website of the Lancashire Infantry Museum and the full report can be found at
‘The First Day on the Somme’
At 0730 hours on 1st July 1916 the artillery lifted and the British infantry, including the 1st and 11th East Lancashires, advanced in extended lines towards the German trenches. For a few moments there was silence, and then suddenly machine guns opened up from behind largely unbroken wire and cut down the attackers in swathes. The casualties, some 57,470 men, were the worst ever suffered by the British Army on a single day.
On the far left of the British attack the 11th East Lancashires ( the famous ‘Accrington Pals’) assaulted the village of Serre, while a mile to their south the 1st Battalion ( the old 30th Foot) attacked to the north of Beaumont Hamel. Despite rapidly mounting casualties, the East Lancashires moved steadily forward, as if on parade, until they melted away under the fire. Small parties of both battalions entered the German trenches, but they were never seen again.
Within a few hours The East Lancashire Regiment suffered more casualties than on any other day in its long history. Out of 700 officers and men of the 1st Battalion who went into action, only 237 were present to answer their names when the roll was called, while the 11th Battalion lost 594 killed, wounded and missing out of the 720 in the attack. This memorable devotion to duty is commemorated in the Regiment annually to this day, most notably by a Service in Blackburn Cathedral.
Sadly Robert was one of the men whose body was never found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Full information on Thiepval can be found here.
A newspaper report of Roberts death in the Derbyshire Times in August 1916 states that he died on July 7th, however the Commonwealth War Graves Commission grave report puts the date at the 1st July they are normally fairly accurate, but without official paperwork I cannot confirm which date is correct!
Robert was awarded The British War and Victory Medals and the 14/15 Star. His medal card denotes his rank as Private, however the rank listed at Thiepval and with the military records that do exist, state Roberts rank was Lance Corporal.
The 1914–15 Star was a campaign medal of the British Empire. It was awarded to Officers and Men who served in any Theatre of War (against the Central European Powers) in WW1 during 1914 and 1915. The medal was never awarded singly and recipients were also awarded the British War and Victory Medals.
Robert is commemorated on Old Whittington and The Brushes War Memorials.
Sadly for the Bunting family Roberts older brother John had died from his wounds in France on 14th June 1916, just over two weeks earlier!