Lance Corporal Harold Donovan Robinson

Harold Donovan Robinson © Surrey Mirror
Harold Donovan Robinson © Surrey Mirror
Harold Donovan Robinson

Thank you to Lenka Cathersides for the following research.

Harold Donovan Robinson was born in the first quarter of 1893 in Dorking and was baptised on 30th April 1893 at St John in North Holmwood. His parents were called Henry George and Frances Ruth (nee Welsh).

Henry George Robinson was born in 1850 in Esher, Surrey and worked as a plumber. Henry’s parents and Harold’s grandparents were painter Joseph and his wife Ann. Frances Ruth Welsh was born in 1873 in Bushey, Watford in Hertfordshire. Her father and Harold’s maternal grandfather was called Joseph Welsh. The couple married on 28th September 1891 in Elstree, Hertfordshire. The bride being over 20 years the groom’s junior.

At the time of the 1901 Census, Henry, Frances and their only child, 7 year old Harold, lived at Mount Street in Dorking. Henry was working as a plumber.

Before the 1911 Census, the family moved to 14 Falkland Road in Dorking. Henry was still working as a plumber and the eighteen year old Harold, as an auctioneer’s clerk. The family had also boarders: an artist and his seven year old daughter. The house had six rooms.

Before enlisting, Harold worked for many years with Messrs. F. Arnold and Son auctioneers and house agents. He was a member of the Congregational Church and active participant in many institutions connected with it. Harold was said to be a manly young man with upright character.

Harold enrolled into the 4th Battalion Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment on 12th January 1915 in Guildford. At the time of his enlistment and death he was living with his parents at 14 Falkland Road in Dorking. His regimental number was G/7418. He became a Lance Corporal.

He disembarked to France on the 29th of June 1915.

ROBINSON – Killed by Accident, in France, on the 6th February. Harold Donovan Robinson, Lce-Corporal, 4th Middlesex Regt, the dearly beloved son and only child of Mr. and Mrs. H. G. Robinson aged 23 years.

Mr. and Mrs. Robinson desire to express their heartfelt thanks for all the loving sympathy shown them in the irreparable loss of their dearly loved son Donovan.

Harold Robinson Death Notice Dorking Advertiser ©

Harold was killed by an accident in the early morning of 6th February 1916 in France. He was killed in his dug-out while asleep. Sadly, his parents were expecting him on a short leave at home.


Another Dorking lad who has made the greatest of all sacrifices for his country is Lce-Corpl. Harold Donovan Robinson, 4th Middlesex Regiment, only son of Mr. and Mrs. H. G. Robinson, of 14 Falkland Road. For many years with Messrs F. Arnold and Son, auctioneers and house agents, he joined up on January 12th 1915, and for the past seven months, as may have been gathered from his interesting letters which have appeared from time to time in our columns, he has seen strenuous work on the fighting front in France. His parents were expecting any day to welcome him home on short leave, and on Saturday they received sad intimation of his death, under circumstances which are peculiarly sad, for it appears that Lce-Corpl Robinson was accidentally killed in his dug-out while asleep.

In a letter dated February 9th to the bereaved parents, the Chaplain, the Rev. R. W. Dugdale writes “I expect you have already heard the sad news of your son’s death, he was accidentally on Feb 8th in one of the most unfortunate accidents which mark all warfare. A man was repairing a machine gun in the dug-out when suddenly it went off. Your son was asleep at the time, and the bullet went straight through his head. Mercifully death was absolutely instantaneous, and he died asleep. I buried him yesterday in the military cemetery in this town and about 80 of his friends attended the funeral. He lies in the company of many brave men who have given their lives for England. A cross will be put up in his memory, and his grave will be looked after.”

Lce-Corpl Robinson was a manly young fellow. Just as he was loyal to his earthly king, so his whole life was earnestly and fully consecrated to his Heavenly King. He was a member of the Congregational Church, and was actively interested in many of the institutions connected with it. His upright character had endeared him to many, and that his death is equally shared by his comrades is evident from the sympathetic letters which Mr. and Mrs. Robinson have received. Corpl. G. Copley writes to Mrs. Robinson : “By the time this letter reaches you you will have had the sad news conveyed to you of the death of your son Donovan. Don and I were great friends for the few moths we knew each other, and I know, by the way he always spoke of you to me, that you will be brave and cheer up under terrible loss. He was liked by everybody, and was the most popular man in the B Company. He was killed in the early morning, and I was with him a few minutes after it occurred. He suffered no pain and there was a calm look on his face. As I looked at him I wondered why God had allowed such a fine younger soldier to go under, and the only conclusion I could come to was that it was time to save him from the terrible times to come in the near future. We buried him yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock. I hope you can excuse this abrupt letter but I cannot express myself on paper as I would like to. I feel the loss of Don, as much as if it were my own brother, and I feel better now that I have written to you.”

Sergt-Major A. Hobbs writes “His upright life and manly character had won our esteem and respect, and we deeply deplore his loss. Words seem useless as such a time like this, but it may be a consolation to you, to know that he died whilst nobly doing his duty for his country, and you will, I know, find greater comfort in the knowledge that he was prepared for that better land beyond, where some day we all hope to meet again.”

Another correspondant writes: “Lce-Corpl. Robinson was only 23, and the finest young soldier I know : he and I have been in some tight corners, and he had not the slightest fear of anything, I have seen hundreds go under, but I have never been so cut up.”

Harold Robinson Death Notice Surrey Advertiser ©

In the last letter he sent to his mother, Lce-Corpl. Robinson wrote : “You do put me on a high peg don’t you, re: King and country. You dear, proud mother! You never will realise how much I want to be good and to be a man for your sake, and your heroic sacrifice of me to this cause of righteousness is a big factor in my life, and in my attitude to the cause. The women of England are helping their men folk more than they think.

Harold Robinson in the Surrey Mirror ©

According to his comrades Harold was liked by everybody and was the most popular man in the B Company.

His Soldiers Effects of £5, 12s, 2d and £3, 10s were given on 30th May 1916 and 26th August 1919 to his mother Frances. His mother also received £116, 8s and 5d in the Probate.

Harold received the British War and Victory medals and the 1915 Star.

After the war his mother moved to Hillcrest, Harrow Road West in Dorking.

Harold Robinson Grave Registration © CWGC
Harold Robinson Headstone Personal Inscription © CWGC

He is buried at the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery in Armentieres, France. His grave reference number is IX.E.14. His headstone reads: “With Christ Which Is Far Better”.

Born Dorking, Surrey
Lived Dorking, Surrey
Son of The late Henry George and Francis Ruth Robinson of Hillcrest Harrow Road West, Dorking
School Dorking British School (Powell Corderoy School)
Enlisted Guilford
Regiment 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
Number G/4718
Date of Death 6th February 1916
Place of Death France
Cause of Death Killed in Action
Age 23
Cemetery Cite Bon Jean Military Cemetery, Armentieres France
Lance Cpl. H.D Robinson
Photograph courtesy of Simon Jervis

Very laughable are the verses written on the “Wreck of the Grantully Castle” it being reported that the liner which conveyed the 4th Queen’s to India was sunk. Private Bill ‘Iggins is supposed to be speaking, and this is the method of his speech:-

Full fathom five I oughter lie,

That’s wot the papers say,

Sunk by a Turkish cruiser

When a-sailing rahnd the Bay.

The “Chronicle” ‘as said it,

The “Noos” and “Leader” too.

They’re Liberal ‘apenny papers, so

Of course it must be true.

Gawd blimy, I can see ’em all,

When first the noos came froo-

One farver chucked ‘is job To draw my money from the “Pru.”

And muvver only waited just

To dry her teary lids ‘

Fore she popped round to the ” ‘Are and ‘Ounds”

To draw my slate club quids.

And then there was a beano,

Wot O! and I don’t fink!

I wish that I could be there ‘elping

To stow away the drink:

An’ the poor ol “Pru” will never

Its money back I fear.

For yer never gets yer money back

Wot’s gone and spent on beer.

And favver’d buy some clobber,

An’ the missus some new gowns,

An’ they’d take an ‘orse and trap An’ go perhaps up Banstead Downs.

Wiv Aunt Matilda and the twins,

Bill Smiff and ‘is ole Dutch. Wiv other sporty charictes

Wot can behave as such.

Harold Robinson Surrey Mirror Article @ Surrey Mirror

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