Private Robert Eric Scarborough

A white circle with a glove crossing it's fingers and the words: Made Possible with Heritage Fund.This man is a candidate for addition to Keighley's Supplementary Volume under the proposal to add further names in 2024, the centenary of the original roll of honour.
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Supported by the National Lottery's Heritage Fund, our project intends to submit about 120 names for peer review to add them to the book which is kept at Keighley Library. The unveiling of the book with it's new names is planned for November 2024, 100 years after the unveiling of the original war memorial.


Private. 10th Battalion. Training Reserve. Service no. TR5/38362.

A black and white portrait photo of a young man facing the camera. He is wearing a jacket with a shirt and tie.

Robert Eric Scarborough

Early life:

Robert was born at Haworth on 30th September 1898 and his birth was registered at Keighley in the last quarter of the year. He was the son of local blacksmith Benjamin Scarborough and Mary Eleanor Scarborough née Ratcliffe, who was a confectioner and baker on her own account. They were married on 16th June 1896 at St. Michael and All Angels Church in Haworth. Robert was baptised at the same church on 23rd October 1898.
They were living at 62, Main Street in Haworth during the 1901 census and by the time of the 1911 census they had moved to 10, Fold, where the Haworth Smithy was located. This is behind the King's Arms and straight across the street from the Old White Lion.
Benjamin and Mary Eleanor had another son, Herbert Wright Scarborough, who was born on 21st October 1903.
The Scarborough family had been blacksmiths at Haworth for over 200 years and Benjamin was employed doing shoeing and general smithing work. Robert looked like he might 'break the mould' because he won a Scott Scholarship to enter Keighley Boys Grammar School, which he attended from September 1912 when he would have been fourteen. He left school in 1915 aged seventeen and attended the Commercial department of the Technical School in Keighley and was considered to be a very promising student. He was employed by Joshua Milner Singleton, the agent for Thomas Cook which was at 66, Cavendish Street in Keighley. For Robert it was a far cry from becoming a blacksmith.

War service:

Robert was only sixteen when war broke out and as he was underage at that time, he enlisted at Keighley Drill Hall on Lawkholme Lane on 20th February 1917. This would have been a short walk from where he was employed as a clerk on Cavendish Street. He was enlisted with the 10th Training Reserve.
His medical gives us a reasonable description of him. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall, 114 lbs weight with a 34 inch chest and good physical development. He also had perfect vision.
He was then transferred to the 10th Battalion Training Reserve on 24th February and was at Rugeley Camp in Staffordshire until 3rd March 1917 when he was taken ill, having contracted cerebro-spinal fever (meningitis) during the epidemic which was prevalent on the camp at the time.
Whilst in hospital he was treated by lumbar puncture and injection of serum. The base hospital reported that he had a typical clinical picture of chronic Cerebro-Spinal Fever. Sadly Robert did not improve and died at 5.15 am, on 12th May 1917.

Robert's funeral was held at St. Michael and All Angels Church on Monday 14th May 1917 and he was buried in the churchyard. He is one of just two Commonwealth War Graves there, the other being Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Ulysses Carr of the Veterinary Corps who died on 10th November 1917, and was buried in the churchyard that month. Both graves have private headstones provided by their families.

A sandstone headstone with decorative carving at each side. There are several rows of text.

Robert's gravestone in Haworth Parish Church Cemetery.

Keighley News obituary 19th May 1917, page 5:

HAWORTH.
Private Robert Eric Scarborough, who joined the forces on February 20 last, and after one month's service was taken seriously ill, died on Saturday last. His body was conveyed to the station with military honours, and it arrived at Haworth on Monday morning. Much sympathy has been shown with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Scarborough, of the Fold, Haworth. Many of the houses and shops on Main Street had drawn blinds as the body passed to Haworth Church, where the funeral was conducted by the Rector (the Rev. T. W. Storey).
Private Scarborough was a clerk in the office of Messrs. Thomas Cook & Son, Cavendish Street, Keighley, before joining the Army.

Keighlian Magazine entry:

ROBERT SCARBOROUGH.
Private. 10th Training Reserve.
Robert Scarborough came to the School in September, 1912, as winner of a Scott Scholarship. He left in July, 1915, and entered the services of Messrs. Thos. Cook & Son in their Keighley Office. From leaving the Day School to his entry into the Army he was regular in attendance in the Commercial Department of the Technical School and was considered to be a very promising student. He joined the Army on February 20th, 1917, but his career as a soldier was very brief as, after he had been at Rugeley Camp for one month only, he was taken ill with Cerebro-Spinal Fever and after lying in Cannock Chase Hospital for seven weeks he died on May 12th, 1917.
Robert Scarborough was a young man who was liked by every one who knew him for his unassuming disposition and his cheerful presence. It was his misfortune to give himself for his country without being permitted to defend her on the field of battle, but Robert Scarborough would have done his duty with his fellows even at the same cost if the opportunity had been afforded him to do it. The Masters and boys of his Old School unite in sending their respectful sympathy to his parents and relations.

His father Benjamin was his next of kin and he received his son's remaining Army pay of £1 17s 2d on 31st August 1917. He was not eligible for a war gratuity.

Robert had not served overseas so did not have any medals. On 3rd May 1919, his parents were asked to confirm their address for the issue of a bronze war memorial plaque (widows penny) and scroll and these were sent to them on 7th June 1920 and would have been inscribed with Robert's name.

His mother Eleanor received a Dependant's Pension of 3 shillings and 6 pence per week beginning on first January 1918. This may have only continued until 6th November 1918.

Robert is remembered in perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. His name appears in the 'Keighlian' Roll of Honour in the School magazine. He is remembered in St Michaels Church on the Haworth Roll of Honour, also on the Stanbury Roll of Honour and he is named on the Haworth War Memorial.

In the 1921 census, his father Benjamin was a 55 year old blacksmith and his 51 year old mother Mary Eleanor was on home duties. They were living at 10, Fold in Haworth. Their surviving son, 17 year old Herbert Wright Scarborough was a blacksmith working for his father.
Benjamin died aged 62 on 10th March 1928 and Herbert died aged 63 on 1st September 1967. His wife Edith died 1st June 1994 aged 88. We did not find a death record for Robert's mother Mary Eleanor.

Information sources:

West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910 about Robert Eric Scarborough
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Keighlian Magazine.
Keighley News archives at Keighley Library.
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923
UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
1921 Census Of England & Wales
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007

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