yeovil at War

robert rendell collins

Died in Mesopotamia after the Armistice

 

Robert Rendell Collins was born in the spring of 1896 in Yeovil, the son of cellarman Walter Rendell Collins (1867-1958), originally from Farnham, Surry, and Yeovil-born Emily Charlotte née Beer (1872-1930). In the 1901 census Walter and Emily were listed at 4 Wellington Street with their two sons Robert and Frederick, aged 5 and 3 respectively, and Emily's mother Mary. There would later be another son, Jack, born in 1907.

In the 1911 census the family were still living at 4 Wellington Street; Walter was now working as a brewer's assistant, presumably just around the corner at Brutton's Brewery, while 15-year old Robert was employed as an ironmonger's assistant. most likely at Hill, Sawtell & Co of High Street.

During the Great War it is known that Robert enlisted in the 1st/4th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry but it is not known when. Indeed details of his military career are all but impossible to find, probably because he died after the Armistice.

The 1st/4th Battalion was formed in August 1914 in Lower Bristol Road, Bath as part of South-Western Brigade in Wessex Division. On 9 October 1914 the Battalion sailed from Southampton, landing at Bombay, India, on 9 November 1914. On 23 February 1916 it landed at Basra as part of 37th Indian Brigade, 3rd Indian Division. The Battalion remained in Mesopotamia for the rest of the war. On 5 May 1916 it transferred to 41st Indian Brigade. It is most likely that Robert was in Mesopotamia after this time. In March 1918 the Battalion was transferred to 56th Indian Brigade, which was attached to 14th Indian Division in September 1918.

Unfortunately there are no details available concerning Robert's death other than he died at the age of 23 on 24 December 1918 and is buried in Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq - Grave XX.F.13. His name is recorded on the War Memorial in the Borough.

 

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Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Baghdad, Iraq

In 1914, Baghdad was the headquarters of the Turkish Army in Mesopotamia. It was the ultimate objective of the Indian Expeditionary Force 'D' and the goal of the force besieged and captured at Kut in 1916. The city finally fell in March 1917, but the position was not fully consolidated until the end of April. Nevertheless, it had by that time become the Expeditionary Force's advanced base, with two stationary hospitals and three casualty clearing stations. The North Gate Cemetery was begun In April 1917 and has been greatly enlarged since the end of the First World War by graves brought in from other burial grounds in Baghdad and northern Iraq, and from battlefields and cemeteries in Anatolia where Commonwealth prisoners of war were buried by the Turks. At present, 4,160 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War are commemorated by name in the cemetery, many of them on special memorials. Unidentified burials from this period number 2,729.