Edward Robins

28 February 1917
This photograph was contributed by Robin Barker, the Great Nephew of Edward Robins

From cavalry to infantry was the change Private 23398 Edward Robins made when he transferred out of the 10th (Prince of Wales’s Own Royal) Hussars. He swapped a sword for a rifle and received the new number 35515 when he joined ‘D’ Company of the 2nd Battalion Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (O.B.L.I). Despite originally enlisting in November 1915 he did not go to France until well into 1916. As such he earned the British War & Victory Medals only.


Edward was born on 21st January 1891 at Warbleton, Sussex. His father was James Robins who subsequently worked at Lodge Farm, Ringmer. During this time the family lived in a house on Half-Mile Drove. Education was at Ringmer School from 9th January 1899 until 2nd May 1902 and again from 1st April 1903 until he was finally exempted by age on 1st February 1904. It is likely the interim period was spent back in Warbleton where James Robins was to ultimately farm at Liberty Island in that parish. One of Edward’s brothers was George, at school in Ringmer with him from 9th January 1899 until he reached school leaving age on 22nd March 1901. A cousin, also named George, died in the Great War and he is named on Warbleton War Memorial which is inside their church. That George was killed at the age of 30 on 27th March 1918 whilst serving with the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment.


On the night of 27th February 1917, the 2nd O.B.L.I. relieved the 2nd Highland Light Infantry from their front line duties near Warlencourt Village on the Somme. The change over was not completed until 3am on 28th, owing to an excessively dark night. ‘D’ Company was in support in Grundy Trench just behind the front line. The dawn was misty, our front and support line trenches were shelled by the enemy. And then they were shelled again, this time by our own artillery; the result of a ghastly error. This was in a forlorn attempt to cut the wire in front of nearby German lines. It seems possible Edward may have died as a result of one of those tragic accidents which invariably happen in the confusion of war.


There is no known grave to visit for Edward Robins and instead he is commemorated on the largest and most impressive of all the memorials. It was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens and is situated at Thiepval on the site of an old chateau. On its panels of stone are inscribed the names of 73,412 men who died in this region in 1916-17 and have no known grave. The village of Thiepval was totally destroyed in the fighting during the Battles of the Somme and uniquely of all such villages, was never rebuilt.


Adapted from Valiant Hearts of Ringmer by Geoff Bridger: Ammonite Press, 1993