The Manchester Regiment Group’s albums on Flickr project for collating grave photographs continues to produce fresh information and background on the men who fought in the 17th Manchesters. Robert Ramsey helps illustrate the men who joined in the Battalion during mid July 1916 as drafts to replace extensive losses from Montauban and Trones Wood. The date on the Grave inscription is inaccurate as confirmed by this research:-
Robert attested 10379 in the Royal Fusiliers on 5/12/1914, as part of Lord Kitchener’s recruitment drive. He had been a Labourer, resident at 119 Marks Road, Romford with his wife Daisy and daughters Dorothy & Florrie. His Mother, Elizabeth and Father, William lived at 50 Willow Street, Romford. The couple had seven other children.
Following basic training with 7th Battalion at Hounslow, Robert went on to serve in the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. He arrived (probably Galipoli) with 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers on 10/5/1915. He returned Home wounded on 5/12/1915; and following treatment in the York Military Hospital, Robert spent Christmas at home with his family on furlough from 21 to 30/12/1915. On 9/2/1916, Robert returned to hostilities with 8th Battalion in France. He received a Gun Shot Wound in the arm on 11/4/1916 and returned Home on Hospital Ship St David, arriving 4/5/1916 and received treatment in Huddersfield War Hospital. There was a Court Martial – sleeping on duty – at this stage and Robert’s sentence was commuted and he was required to return France with 5th Battalion, where he arrived posted to 32nd Battalion on 28/6/ 1916. Having arrived at Infantry Brigade Depot, Etaples the next day, he was then attached to the 17th Manchesters as part of a draft of 438 troops who arrived on 12/7/1916. In common with many of the July draft, he was then transferred to the Battalion – 43365 – on 1/9/1916.
Evidence of other men who were attached to the 17th Manchesters*1 indicates Robert will have taken part in the assaults at Guillemont (30/7/1916) and Flers where he will have joined the assault on 12/10/1916 and was wounded again on 14/10/1916.
After recovery in France, Robert was then wounded, serving with D Company at Neuville-Vitasse, as the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line. The Medical Records suggest Robert was wounded at Neuville Vitesse on 5/4/1917, but the War Diary reports the Battalion at Blairville on this date. Robert was hospitilised in Wimereux before evacuation to Britain on Hospital Ship Princess Elizabeth, arriving 12/4/1917 when he was admitted to the Norwich & Norfolk Military Hospital with Gun Shot Wounded and internal haemorrhage.
After treatment for 5 days, Robert succumbed to his wounds during an operation on 18th April 1917. He is buried in Romford Cemetery.
After Robert’s death, Daisy remarried and she went to live with her daughters at 14 McAlpine Street, Anderston, Glasgow.
Many men from Royal Berkshire Regiment were attached to the 17th Manchesters in mid July 1916 and went on to fight at Guillemont on 30/7/1916. This research has led to the identification of CHRISTIAN GRAYSMITH who died in the assault posted as 32nd Royal Fusiliers, but recorded by CWGC as attached to 17th Battalion. 19 year old tea packet from Blackfriars, Christian was originally buried on the battlefield close the railway line leading east from Trones Wood, before his remains were relocated to Serre Road in the 1920s. His Medal Roll confirms arrival in France on 28/6/1916 in the same group of reinforcements as Robert Ramsey. The Roll also confirms attachment to Manchesters.
DoB 26/2/1988. Marriage to Daisy Catherine Box 5/6/1910. Daughters Dorothy Violet (DoB 12/7/1911) & Florence Esther (DoB 24/7/1913)
1. Service Record
3. Medal Roll
5. 17th Battalion War Diary.
The original headstone that was replaced by the featured image in 2016.