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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916

CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916

Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916

Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916

Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Pte 15646 Robert Edwin Grantham

  • Age: 22
  • From: Liverpool
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 17th Btn
  • K.I.A Monday 10th July 1916
  • Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial
    Panel Ref: P&F1D8B &8 C.

Robert Edwin Grantham was born on 09th April 1894 in Liverpool, the son of James Grantham and his wife Caroline (nee Hood). He was baptised on 23rd April 1894 at St Peter's Church, Liverpool. 

Robert’s father, James Grantham, was born in Buckinghamshire but in 1881 is shown as a 48 years old butler at “Holmfield”, Aigburth, the home of a merchant. His parents married on 18th March 1890 at St Lukes Church, Liverpool, James was a widowed cabinet maker, living at 48 Upper Hope Place.His wife Caroline (nee Hood) was 35 years younger than him and was born in Liverpool. They had five children of which only three survived - Robert and his younger brothers -  David Rance Grantham and Jack.

Details of James' previous marriage are as follows: he married Annie Kirby in Dublin on 09th December 1859, Annie died in 1888 in Liverpool, after having two sons and three daughters(Roberts half-siblings). 

In 1901 the family lived at 2 Victoria Terrace, Garston. His father, James, is a 68 year old butler, whilst his mother is 33 years of age. Robert E. is 6 years old and his brother David R. is 4, both born in Aigburth, Liverpool.  Also present in the household is Samuel Graydon a 45 eyar old labourer who is boarding with the family. 

By 1911, they are living at 3a Brighton Road, Waterloo when his father, James, is now aged 78 and is retired, his mother is 43. They advise that they have been married for 21 years and have had four children of whom two had died. Robert is 16 and David is 14 both are recorded as clerks at a “coalworks”. 

In 1912, his father, James, died and his youngest son, Jack, was born shortly after his death. 

On 01st September 1914, Robert enlisted at St George's Hall, Liverpool joining the 17th Battalion of The King's Liverpool Regiment as Private 15646. He gave his age as 20 years 129 days and giving his employment as clerk.He was described as being 5' 9" tall, weight 123lbs with a 34" chest. He had a fresh complexion with blue eyes and  brown hair. He stated his religion as C.of E. His next of kin as his mother Caroline, 8 Shallot Street, Princes Park.

He was billeted at Prescot Watch Factory from 14th September 1914, he trained there and also at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 17th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. 

He reached France on 7th November 1915 and on 10th July 1916 was reported missing during the fighting at Trones Wood. Subsequently it was deemed that he had been killed in action on 10th July.

The murderous fighting that went on inside Trones Wood rendered it impossible to put specific dates on some of the casualties which is why many of the 17th Battalion losses have been bracketed as killed in action between 10th – 12th July 1916. 

The conditions are best described in the following passage from Everard Wyrall’s book The History of The King’s Regiment (Liverpool) Volume II: 

The remembrance of Trones Wood in July 1916 to those who passed through it is of a noisome, horrible place, of a tangled mass of trees and undergrowth which had been tossed and flung about in frightful confusion by the shells of both sides. Of the ghastly dead which lay about in all directions, and of DEATH, lurking in every hole and corner with greedy hands ready to snatch the lives of the unwary. The place was Death trap, and although the attacks were made with great determination,   the presence of snipers who could not be detected and often fired into the backs of our men made the clearing of the wood impossible.

Before Robert was decared as killed in action his mother, then living at 8 Shallot Street, Liverpool, wrote to the military :

“Having received no other information  (only missing) by the War Office of my son, I have enclosed three letters which I received from his officers assuring me of his death. I would be most thankful if you could confirm it so as to put an end to the suspense.  PS - would you kindly return my letters as I prize them”.

The three letters were :

15.07.1916 - Sergeant E. H. Williams “B” Company 17th KLR  wrote to her “I write to you in deep sorrow to offer you my heartfelt sympathy in the loss of your son, Private R. E. Grantham. He has been with this company now for a long time and he won the respect of all ranks. In the recent fighting he was chosen as dispatch carrier for the Company - this was one of the most important of all Special Duties and for it we chose the very best we could.  So your son was selected and was efficient in every respect - he did some excellent work. Everyone out here is sorry to lose such an excellent fellow and I know the whole company joins with me in offering our deepest sympathy in your loss”. 

15.07.1916 : 2nd Lt. E.R.Porritt, 10 Platoon, “C” Company wrote : “It is with deepest regret that I write to you regarding the death of your son who was killed in action on July 13th. At the time, he was not identified among the dead but now I am sorry to say that it is an established fact, He was killed by a shell which burst so close to him that death must have been instantaneous. I was his Platoon Officer, knew him well personally and I can only say what a splendid fellow he was. As one of the four Company dispatch carriers he has done most excellent work on account of his determination and reliability and as such he won the admiration of all officers, apart from his many friends in the Company and Battalion”.

17.07.1916 : Sgt T. S. Austin, 10 Platoon, wrote : “As Sergeant of your late son’s platoon I desire on behalf of all its members to extend to you our deepest and heartfelt sympathy in the irreparable loss which you have recently sustained. I need hardly assure you what a great blow to us was Bob’s death. One of the most reliable men, always ready to do his duty cheerfully and well I miss in him a most popular, capable and conscientious soldier. He was, I regret to say, killed whilst our Regiment were progressing with the big advance. I know how difficult it is to find consolation under such circumstances but I sincerely hope that the knowledge of your son’s brave death and whilst participating in such an important and memorable battle will assist you to bear up under so great a loss.”

The War Office, having read these letters and made enquiries to confirm Robert’s death advised the Infantry Record Office at Preston on 19th November 1916:

”Enquiries have been made into the statements of Lieutenant E. Wilmer and 15658 Sgt T.E Austin, but they can only give hearsay information. Lieutenant E.R. Porritt is reportedly killed in action on 30th July 1916. Although it is feared that the information may be correct, it is not considered sufficiently definite to justify official acceptance of death at present and Private Grantham’s name must therefore remain for the present on the official list of missing”. 

In due course, as mentioned earlier, it was officially directed that his death be assumed to have occurred on 10th July - despite Lieutenant Porritt’s assurance that it was in fact on 13th. In 1919, his effects and medals were sent to his mother who had submitted sworn evidence of Robert’s immediate family, which showed his brother David as Sergeant 29202 D.R.Grantham, aged 22, 17th KLR; younger brother Jack, 7 years, living at home with his mother at 8 Shallott Street; two half-brothers, William and James living in Ormskirk and Lark Lane, Liverpool respectively; and half-sisters Lilian & Eva, both married and living in South Africa and Beatrice in Newton Abbott, suggesting that Caroline was James’s second wife. Sgt 29202 David R. Grantham survived the war, earning a Military Medal as well as his three medals.

Robert's body was never recovered or was subsequently lost as his name is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

On 01st August 1932 the Prince of Wales and the President of France inaugurated the Thiepval Memorial in Picardy. The inscription reads: “Here are recorded the names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.”

Soldiers Effects to mother Caroline, half-brothers William, James, half-sisters Beatrice Cowell, Eva Jackson, and Lillian Reynolds, Pension to mother Caroline and brother David, 8 Shallot Street

His brother David was Sergeant 29202 of the 17th Battalion of The King's Liverpool Regiment, who was gazetted on 19th August 1919 for the Military Medal whilst serving in Russia at Archangel.

Killed On This Day.

(108 Years this day)
Tuesday 18th July 1916.
Pte 27346 John Mawdsley
34 years old

(106 Years this day)
Thursday 18th July 1918.
Cpl 106108 William Alexander Unsworth
38 years old