Private Robert John Haines

© Royston Williamson 2015

Many thanks to Jim Edwards of North Holmwood for this research.

Robert John Haines was born in Holmwood about 1877. He was baptised on 18th March in St John’s. In 1891 he was living in Flint Hill with his parents and four brothers. On 26th December 1898 he married Edith Luff at St Paul’s Church, Dorking. On 29th September 1900 his brother, Thomas, married Edith’s sister, Lillie Eliza Luff, in St John’s Church. In the 1901 census Robert and Edith were living at 15 Bentsbrook Cottages, North Holmwood with a one-year-old son. Robert was a wood and coke dealer. Their next child was born at Moreton Cottage, North Holmwood in 1902 and their third was born in Flint Hill in 1909.

In the 1911 census the family are at Brook House, London Road and Robert is a furniture dealer. Another child was born later that year in Brook House and one the following year at 8 West Street, Dorking.

Robert was called up from 8 Seaford Road, Hove to report on 29th November 1916 but was not required for service until 15th March 1917. He was then living at 70 North Street, Portslade (not far from Brighton) and he was posted to 6th Labour Company, Northamptonshire Regiment (Number 39043), presumably since he was only just under the maximum age of 41 for service. The soldiers in labour units were usually men below the level of fitness for line duties. Their main job was to carry out labouring duties behind the lines so that men resting from the front had some relief. They had only basic military training and were not normally expected to fight, but were sometimes used in emergencies.

He was in the army in England for only a week before being sent to France, going from Dover to Boulogne on 24th March. He remained in France except for a furlough in England for two weeks in January 1918. In May 1917 he was transferred to 144 Company, Labour Corps (number 85993), at a time when all the labour battalions were being transferred to the new Corps. He was killed in action on 19th March 1918 and is buried in the Oxford Road Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.

Probate was granted to Edith for an estate of £1,053, a considerable sum for a manual worker, and Robert’s residence was given as 70 North Street, Portslade.

By 1919 Edith had moved to Haynford, Norwich. Robert’s parents, Thomas and Emily, were still in Holmwood. His brother, Thomas, was living at 1 Flint Hill. He was later a Church Warden at St John’s from 1933 to 1950. Robert also left another brother and sister at 1 Flint Hill, a brother in Falkland Road and a half-brother in Falkland Hill, all in Dorking.

Also commemorated on St Martin’s Church, Dorking Memorial and Dorking, South Street Memorial.

Born                                 Holmwood
Lived                                 Holmwood and Dorking

Husband of                       Edith Luff

Regiment                          144th Company, Labour Corps
Number                             85993

Previous Regiment            39043, 6th Labour Company, Northamptonshire Regiment

Date of Death                    19th March 1918
Place of Death                   Ypres, Belgium
Cause of Death                  Killed in Action

Age                                   41

Cemetery                          Oxford Road Cemetery, Ypres

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