Robert HENDERSON
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 99793
Unit: 201st Field Company ROYAL ENGINEERS
Date of Death: 22 June 1916
Age: 30
Cemetery: Cerisy-Gailly Military Cemetery, Somme, France

At the time of writing, Robert's unit is incorrectly shown by the War Graves Commission as being the 20th Field Company.

He had been born in Hawick in about 1880, the son of Robert and Isabella. Sometime in the following fifteen years, the family moved to Stockport and his younger brother, John, was born locally in about 1897. They took up residence in Heaton Chapel where the 1901 Census records Robert as earning his living as a joiner. This may undervalue his actual position as the family was sufficiently wealthy to be able to afford to employ a live-in servant - 56 year old Hannah Walton. This financial security may not have lasted for long as Robert died in 1904.

His son also became a skilled joiner and went to work for a local company: George Ball & Sons, 28 Birch Avenue, Heaton Moor. He also married and went to live in Levenshulme where he and his wife had two children. Robert travelled into Manchester to enlist in the army in 1915. His craft skills were much in demand by the army and it was, perhaps, no surprise that he found himself in the Engineers.

The 201st Field Company was newly formed like the other units of the Army's 30th Division and it's likely that Robert may have known several of the infantry soldiers as the Division was made up mainly of battalions of "pals" from Manchester and Liverpool. The Field Company had a strength of just over 200 and would undertake various construction jobs in the front line and reserve areas. He would have one of about 40 joiners and carpenters. During June 1916, Robert and his mates were working on various constructions ready to assist the infantry in their forthcoming attack (1st July would be the first day of the Battle of the Somme). He was sleeping in his dug-out near the village of Maricourt when it was hit by a shell. Two other men were also killed - Sapper A Brandwood from Liverpool and Sapper William Norris from Bury.

There would be further bad news for Isabella Henderson some 18 months later when news came that John had also been in killed in action. A few years later, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information she had moved back to Scotland and was living at "The Joy", Graden near Kelso. Perhaps with the loss of her husband and both children there was nothing to hold her to Stockport.

   
           
   
     
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