Robert was born in Sheffield at the end of 1896 and was baptized on the 13th of January 1897.
His parents were Thomas and Florence.
Thomas had been born at Shorncliffe Military Camp in 1868 whilst Florence was born, Florence Owen in Sheffield in 1868.
Thomas’s father was also Robert, born in Durham in 1829.
Robert enlisted into the British Army, possibly around 1852 and subsequently served with the 13th Light Dragoons in the Crimean War where he earned the Crimea Medal with the clasp for ‘Sebastopol’. He also received the Turkish Crimea meal.
At some stage, he transferred from the cavalry and was posted to the Army Hospital Corps. In the rank of Sergeant, he served in the Abyssinian Expedition of 1867-68 thereby earning a further campaign medal.
To complete his set of awards, he later received the medal for Long Service and Good Conduct.
Robert appears to be absent from the 1851 census but in the third quarter of 1860, he married Ann Margaret Street who had been born in Kent, possibly Canterbury or the surrounding area, in 1842.
1861 saw the couple living at the Cavalry and Artillery Northgate Barracks in Kent. Both Robert and Ann appear to be absent from the 1871 census so it is possible that they may have been abroad at this time where Robert could have been serving. Wherever they were, their first son, Thomas, born at Shorncliffe Camp in Kent was with them.
By 1881, Robert had retired from the Army and the family had moved to Sheffield. Quite why this is will probably never be known as it seems that they had no previous family ties with the area. Possibly they moved for work.
In 1881 they were living at 23 Johnson Street where Robert was described as a ‘Chelsea Pensioner’. Thomas was a 13 year old ‘errand boy’.
In 1891 they had moved to 11, Harrison Road. Robert was now said to be a ‘Timekeeper in a Steel Rolling Mill’ whilst Thomas was a ‘Wire-Drawer’ – possibly in the same mill.
Thomas was married on the 7th of July 1894 to Florence Owen, born in Owlerton, Sheffield in 1868.
In 1896, their first son, Robert was born.
1901 saw them living at 54 Taplin Road, Hillsborough, Sheffield. Thomas was still working as a ‘Wire-Drawer’
In that same year, Robert Senior was living with his wife Ann at 36 Oakland Road very close to Taplin Road.
Robert was again described as an ‘Army Pensioner’.
By 1911 Thomas and family had moved to 29 Bankfield Road, Malin Bridge. A further son, Colin had arrived, being born in 1903. Thomas was still a ‘Steel Wire Drawer’ whilst young Robert was now working as a ‘Clothier’s Assistant’.
A photo showing Malin Bridge including Bankfield Road.
The elder Robert was living at 35 Stannington Road – Woodland View – and still described as an ‘Army Pensioner’.
He died on the 2nd of February 1914. His funeral, held on the 7th of that month attracted a great deal of attention and interest particularly in the local press. The Sheffield Independent newspapers of the 7th and 9th of the month gave great coverage to the funeral with a detailed obituary and photographs. It is said that the funeral and the route to it were attended by ‘many thousands’ of mourners, spectators and interested passers-by. He was buried in Wardsend Cemetery the graveside being attended by Sir John Bingham, the instigator of the Hallamshire Veterans Badge awarded to Sheffield vetereans of the Crimea and Indian Mutiny. Sir John was a Sheffield born silver manufacturer and merchant.
Robert’s wife, Ann would die on the 9th of December 1921 and be buried in the same grave.
At some stage, young Robert enlisted into the British Army. He must have been no older than 17 when he did so.
He was designated as Private 10583 in the Coldstream Guards.
On the outbreak of the First World War, he went to France with his regiment arriving on the continent on the 12th of August – one of the earliest entrants into the conflict.
They were heavily involved in some of the earliest battles of the war including the battle of the Aisne. They also fought at Loos and on the Somme in 1916.
In March 1917 they were still stationed on the Somme.
The war diary for the 15th of that month states :
The battalion advanced and occupied BRUNSWICK, GOTHA and COBURG Trenches which were consolidated. Casualties – Killed – 2 OR – wounded – 24 OR.
Robert Owen Sheffield was one of the two men killed on this date and is now buried in Sailly-Saillisel British Cemetery. He would have been aged just 20 at the time of his death.
His father, Thomas, died in Sheffield in 1938 – it has not been possible to establish when his mother, Florence died.