Thank you to Patricia Brazier for the following research.
Robert was baptised at the parish church of Betchworth on 21st May 1882; his father; Henry Thomas is a lime worker and his mother is Mary Ann. His family are living in Betchworth and Robert already has 3 sisters and 3 brothers.
In the 1891 Census Robert’s family are living in River Lane, Fetcham. Henry, his father, is an Agricultural Worker. Robert is 9 years old and at school.
The next census in 1901 finds Robert in Alverstoke in Hampshire; he is a Gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery. He joined them on 25th February 1901. When he enlisted he gave his address as Betchworth and his occupation as farm labourer. He is 19 years and 11 months old, is 6 feet tall and has blue eyes and brown hair. His next of kin are his father Henry and mother Mary Ann. He has 4 elder brothers, Charles who is serving with the Royal Horse Artillery in China, James, Edwin and George, who are at home with parents. He also has four sisters, Emily, Annie, Elizabeth and Mary Ann.
Whilst with the Royal Garrison Artillery, he spent 1 year in Malta, 4 years in India and 2 years in Aden. He arrived back in England on 24th December 1908 and then transferred to the Army Reserve.
In the 1911 Census he is back with his parents in West Horsley working as a waggoner on a farm.
Robert enlisted into the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment 1st Battalion in Guildford and arrived in France on 26th January 1915.
A notice in the London Gazette dated 11th October 1916 shows that Robert received the Military Medal. This medal was awarded to non-commissioned officers and men of the British Army for acts of bravery under fire. Recipients of this medal were allowed to use the letters MM after their name. Notices in the London Gazette often appeared at least three months after the medal was awarded, which means Robert was awarded the medal in June or July of 1916.
Robert’s date of death is given as 15th July 1916, the day he was first reported missing. His death was confirmed in the Surrey Mirror dated 13th August 1917.
Robert is remembered on a plaque on the Theipval Memorial. This memorial was erected to remember the 72,246 missing servicemen with no known grave who lost their lives during the Battles of the Somme.
His war gratuity was sent to his father, who was living in Ripley Lane, West Horsley.
Robert is also remembered on a Memorial inside St Mary’s Church, West Horsley dedicated to all West Horsley men who died in the Great War.
Robert Graffham War Diary. © Royal West Surrey Regiment Archive
|Son of||Henry Thomas and Mary Ann Graffham|
|Regiment||1st Battalion. The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment|
|Date of Death||15th July 1916|
|Place of Death||Somme, France|
|Cause of Death||Killed in Action|
|Memorial||Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France|