Private Robert Baldwin, 27th (City of Winnipeg ) Battalion. Service no. 169011.
Robert was born on 14th June 1895, the birth being registered at Keighley in the third quarter of the year. He was a son of David and Isabella Baldwin née Mountain. He was baptised by Vicar John Berry at Silsden St, James' Church on 22nd September and at the time his father David was employed as a labourer.
In 1901 he was five years old and living with his parents at 65, Bradford Road in the Eastwood area of Keighley. His siblings were Jane E. age 17 and a worsted twister, William H. age 16 and a worsted doffer, Joe aged 13 also a worsted doffer, Peter age 10, Mary B. age 3 and Lillie age 1. Their father David was 39 and employed as an iron fettler for a machine works and mother Isabelle was also 39 and running the family home.
By 1911 Robert was 15 years old and the family were living at 145, Bradford Road in Keighley, having moved from no. 65 in 1907. The records shows that David and Isabella had been married for 12 years and had produced 12 children, seven of whom had survived and five had died. Jane and William had grown up and left home, so now there were five children left. They were Joe, age 23 and a fitter at a machine works; Peter, age 20 and a turner's apprentice for a gas and oil engineer; Robert age 15 was working in a worsted yarn mill as was Mary age 13; Lilie was 11 years old and still at school.
Emigration to Canada:
David is listed as an elector for 145, Bradford Road in 1913, but there is no listing for 1914, suggesting that they had emigrated to Canada around this time. They might have followed William who could have gone before. In 1914, father David and mother Isabella had the home address of 1236, Barton Street East, Hamilton, Ontario; also 835, King Street, West Toronto; and in 1919 they were at 25, Eastwood Avenue, Birchcliffe, Ontario E.C.
Robert appears to have worked in munitions in Canada, then came to England to work on munitions, where he met up with his brother John William who was serving with the 48th Highlanders. Robert enlisted with the 17th Reserve Battalion at East Sandling in Kent on the 24th January 1916 and his service no. was 160911. His trade was spinner, which may have been what he did before he took on munitions work. He was single and stated that his mother Isabella was his next of kin.
Embarked for France 1st April 1916. Taken on Strength of 27th Battalion 2nd April. Left Base for Unit on 18th April, arriving on 20th April.
On 23rd April 1916 Robert fell ill with inflamed intestines (enteritis) and was admitted to No. 5 Canadian Field Ambulance on the 24th. and transferred to the Divisonal Rest Station. Two days later he returned to duty.
He was serving at Rouen with 27th Battalion when he was killed in action on 11th June 1916. He was 20.
27th Canadian Infantry Battalion (03), war diary extract: June 1916 - page 121.
10th June 1916:
Battalion in line, same dispositions. Weather cloudy with rain. Wind Westerly. Heavy bombardments of enemy trenches and works as on previous day. Heavy retaliation by enemy.
11th June 1916:
Battalion in line, same dispositions. Weather cloudy with heavy rain in evening. Wind Westerly. Heavy bombardment of enemy trenches and works as before. Heavy retaliation by enemy.
At 10.15 am enemy about 25 strong made bombing raid on GARROCK POST. Raiders repulsed with about 50% casualties. Captured wounded German in front of trench 64R and turned him over to Brigade at night. Received operations order no- of 6th Cdr Inf. Bde. for relief by 31st Battalion. Relief completed by 1 am. Battalion moved into support at YPRES. Appendix G.
Toronto Telegram June 1916: R. BALDWIN KILLED.
Went to Work on Munitions in England and Enlisted.
News of the death of Private Robert Baldwin, aged 21 years, has reached his parents at 85, King Street West. Private Baldwin was formerly a shell maker with the Canada Founrdy Co., and went to England to engage in that work. While there he met his brother, Driver W. H. Baldwin, who was at that time a private in the 48th Highlanders. He intended to join his brother's battalion, but went into the 27th, and transferred, and was killed on June 11 while fighting. Negotiations were going on to have him transferred. Private Baldwin had been in the trenches nine weeks.
Toronto Star: Pte. R. Baldwin Killed.
PTE. ROBERT BALDWIN, who is reported killed in action, was born at Keighley in Yorkshire, England, 21 years ago. He came to Canada 4 years ago, and latterley had worked for some time for the Canada Foundry Company making shells. Last October he went over to England to make shells, and while there met his brother William, who went to the front with the first contingent, returned to England on leave. Robert then enlisted over there in a Canadian unit. He has been in khaki only four months, and has been at the front about nine weeks. Pte. Baldwin was a son of Mr. and Mrs. David Baldwin, of 835, King street west. He was a member of the Church of England. So far his brother has escaped injury.
Keighley News 22nd July 1916 page 4:
News has been received from a Canadian newspaper by Mrs. J. Tunnicliffe, of 8, King Street, Silsden, wife of Mr. Joseph Tunnicliffe, a member of the Silsden Urban District Council, that her brother, Private Robert Baldwin, is recorded killed in action on June 11.
Craven Herald 21 July 1916:
CANADIAN SOLDIER KILLED: LINK WITH SILSDEN
Mrs. J. Tunnicliffe of 8, King Street, Silsden, and wife of Corporal Joseph Tunnicliffe, has received a Canadian paper in which the death of Pte. Robert Baldwin, her brother, is recorded, he having been killed in action. Pte. Baldwin was formerly a shell maker with the Canada Foundry Co., and came to England to engage in that kind of work. While in England he met his brother, Driver W. H. Baldwin, who was at that time a private in the 48th Highlanders. He intended to join his brother's battalion, but went into the 27th, and transferred and was killed on June 11th while fighting. Pte. Baldwin had been in the trenches nine weeks. His brother, Driver W. H. Baldwin, is a native of Silsden, and is at present in the fighting line.
Dated this day March 30 1916. WILL.
In the event of my death I give the whole of my property and effects to Mrs. Isabella B. Baldwin, 835, King St. West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Signature Pte. R. Baldwin No. 169011.
1st witness: No. 488808 Bugler H D James. 17 Batt. 2nd Regt.
2nd witness: 488700 James Hamilton. 17 Batt. CEF.
His medals (War Medal and Victory Medal) were sent to his mother in May 1920, and the plaque and scroll (serial no. 791809) were sent to his father David in March 1921.
His mother also received the memorial cross in August 1921.
Robert has no known grave and his name appears on Panel 26 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the missing.
He is remembered on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.
As far as is known, Robert is not named on any local memorial in either of the Keighley or Craven Districts.
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
England & Wales Births 1837-2006
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
Canadian Veteran's Affairs (service record) Reference: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 386 - 33. Item Number: 22072. Record Group: Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). Digitized service file - PDF format: B0386-S033
Keighley News archives at Keighley Library
The Craven Herald newspaper
The Toronto Star newspaper
The Toronto Telegram newspaper
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935
1891 England Census