Robert Weetman SHARRATT
Rank: Lieutenant
Date of Death: 10 March 1916
Age: 21
Cemetery: Authuile Military Cemetery, Somme, France

Bob Sharratt was the youngest of the three sons of Albert and Kate. They would all serve during the War but Harold and Walter would return. Their keenness to serve is not surprising - their grandfather, W Sharratt,  had been Colonel of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion of the Fusiliers (the forerunner of the Territorial Army). They were all born in Northenden but the family had moved to Heaton Moor in the late 1890s, taking up residence at 6 King's Drive. Albert was a successful builder and the family's entry in the 1901 Census shows they could afford to employ a live-in servant, 22 year old Hilda Shepherd.

All three sons attended Manchester Grammar School (and are commemorated on the School's Roll of Honour of those who served). After leaving school, Bob worked as an assistant to the Magistrates' Clerk's Officer at the Manchester Police Court. He enlisted into the army in November 1914. As with many middle class young recruits, he was quickly selected to become an officer and, on 12 January 1915, he received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the newly formed 16th Battalion (the second of the Salford Pals battalions).

Then Fusiliers went overseas in November 1915 and spent their time alternating between tours of duty in the trenches around the Somme village of Authuile and periods in reserve. The Regimental History describes the day Bob was killed. "At about 11pm, on 9th March 1916, a wiring party was driven back into the trenches by a very heavy bombardment of several calibres over an extensive front, 150 shells being counted in the first ten minutes. Some of this fell on the front line of the 16th Battalion, killing or wounding many of the sentries. But much of it fell on the support and communication trenches and on reserve dug-outs; and under cover of it the Germans raided the front line. When this was re-occupied later, there were signs of a severe hand-to-hand struggle and it was evident that the Lewis gun post and the sentry post close to the point of entry had been put out of action by the bombardment as all the men of these two posts were found killed or wounded. This raid cost the Battalion 1 officer (Lt. R W Sharratt) and 12 other ranks killed, 4 officers and 47 other ranks wounded and 1 officer and 7 other ranks missing."

Bob had been commanding the wiring party and had been killed by shrapnel from a shell. His Colonel later wrote to his parents "I had seen your son earlier in the morning when he was commanding a wiring party in front of our lines and he was walking about in the open in his usual fearless manner, giving the men just the good example of courage that they are quick to follow. The party was fired on later but no-one was hurt and it was during the bombardment that a fragment of shell struck him and mortally wounded him. You will hear full particulars from his brother in the Lancashire Fusiliers. Lt Sharratt had become very expert at wiring which requires skill and great courage and he will be very much missed by me and his Company officers. He was in every way a reliable and brave officer and his name had been forwarded for promotion some time ago."

On 9 June, the family received another letter saying that he had been buried at Authuile - 2500 yards north of Aveluy and 3 miles north of Albert. Since the end of the War, his grave has been tended by the War Graves Commission.

In due course, Bob's affairs were finalised and his estate was valued at £518 7s 4d (worth over £23000 at 2005 prices).

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