Old Whittington War Memorial people places trades Sydall Swanwick
Fred Robinson was born in Whittington in 1893. His parents were Frederick and Sarah Robinson, they married in 1877. When Fred was born there were already 7 elder siblings and at the time of the 1911 census it was recorded that Frederick and Sarah had 15 children, 3 of whom had died by 1911.
I cannot find any trace of which school Fred or any of his siblings attended. The Brushes School was opened 1899 prior to that they quite probably attended Websters Endowed School on Church Street.
In 1901 the family were living at 4 Victoria Road, this according to the census was near to Fowler Street.
As you can see from the census the enumerator put down Frederick and Sarah as Orwin instead of Robinson!
By 1911 the family had moved and were living at 104 Holland Road. Fred has by this time left school and is now listed as a Blacking Mills Labourer. More information on Old Whittington Blacking Mills can be read at
On 5th August 1914 Fred marries Bertha Nicholson at Old Whittington Church. His profession is now listed as Sawyer and a sawyer is exactly what is sounds like a person who saws wood/timber for a living, it could be live wood for example a tree or wood in a saw mill.
One of the witnesses to the wedding of Fred and Bertha is Freds younger brother John William. Its interesting to note that the occupation of Freds father is given as Miner. On the census for 1901 when he was 44 and in 1911 Frederick is classed as a invalid (unable to work) perhaps he suffered an injury in the mine or picked up a mining related illness. It is sad that he was an invalid from quite a young age, especially with a large family to support.
Fred enlisted 31st May 1915 in the 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters . His Registration number was 26774 and a copy of his original enlistment form is below. As you can see at the top he is registered as 9th Battalion but above his number is 16th Battalion. I think it is possible he originally joined the 16th Chatsworth Rifles but as the war progressed he was transferred to the 9th Battalion.
I have been advised that it was common for men to be ‘moved about’ in WW1, even between Regiments let alone battalions; depending on unit requirements.
16th (Service) Battalion (Chatsworth Rifles)
Formed at Derby on 16 April 1915, by the Duke of Devonshire and the Derbyshire TF Association. Moved to Buxton on 4 May 1915 and then on to Redmires near Sheffield on 8 June. 2 September 1915 : moved to Hursley near Winchester and came under orders of 117th Brigade in 39th Division. Moved to Aldershot on 30 September 1915 but soon moved to Witley. 6 March 1916 : landed at Le Havre.
Further information on the 39th Division can be found here
Cap Badge of the Sherwood Foresters
According to his physical description on his attestation forms Fred was 5ft 6″, weight 120lbs with a fair complexion. At the time of enlisting he was living at 98 Holland Road Old Whittington and his occupation was given once again as a Sawyer.
It is very likely that Fred saw action at several of the battles which took place on the Somme.
Sadly Fred was killed in 1916. There is a slight discrepancy in recorded information of the date Fred died. One report states he died on 22 January 1916, however, according to army records he was hospitalised between 9th February and 24th February 1916 with gastritis. Fred actually died on 22 November 1916.
Excerpt from Sheffield Daily Telegraph 6th January 1917
A longer report of Freds death appeared in the Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald 6th January 1917.
Fred is buried in Connaught Cemetery Thiepval. The Grave registration entry shows the date of death as 22nd January 1916. More information on Connaught Cemetery can be found here
and his gravestone also shows the incorrect date.
(Picture courtesy of TWGPP)
This mix up seems to have occurred on the grave registration report as you can see below.
I have contacted the Common Wealth War Graves Commission and they are going to look into, and the headstone will be altered to show the correct date at some point in the future.
Even though it is not the correct date Fred Robinson does have a grave and headstone and is remembered.
I think from the newspaper reports we can definitely be certain that Fred died in November 1916 and not January.
The newspaper report also states that Fred left a child two months old. I have found a Gladys Robinson who was born in 1915 and whose mothers maiden name was Nicholson, but the date would make her 18 months old when Fred died, however she would have been 2 months old when he enlisted (without a copy of the birth certificate I cannot confirm this is Freds daughter).
If any descendants of Fred Robinson have any information they would like to add to the site or if they can clarify that Gladys was indeed Freds daughter, then please contact me.
Fred was awarded The Victory Medal and The British War Medal.
Again there is another question mark over which Battalion Fred was in as on the medal Roll book it shows him as being in the 17th Battalion and the 9th Battalion, no mention of the 16th!
Fred is remembered on Old Whittington and The Brushes War Memorial and the Sherwood Foresters Roll of Honour here