Biography of Private Robert Henry Armstrong (11880)
8th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
Died 25th January 1915


  • Name: Robert Henry Armstrong
    Date of birth: 1896
    Place of Birth: Edenham, Lincolnshire, England
    Date of Birth Registration: October – December 1896
    Place of Birth Registration: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England


  • Name: John Robert Armstrong
  • DOB: 1852
  • Place of Birth: Grimsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
  • Occupation: General engineer, traction engine driver


  • Name: Emma Jane Havercroft
  • DOB: 14th January 1869
  • Place Of Birth: Spalding, Lincolnshire, England
  • Marriage: 1896 bourne District

Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)

  • Robert Henry Armstrong, 1896, Edenahm
  • Elsie Caroline Armstrong, 1899, Grimsthorpe
  • Margaret Mary Havercroft Armstrong, 1900, Grimsthorpe
  • Annie May Armstrong, 1904, Grimsthorpe
  • John Armstrong, 1906, Grimsthorpe
  • George W Armstrong, 1910, Grimsthorpe


  • 1901: Robert is living with his parents in Elsthorpe Road, Grimsthorpe, Lincolnshire.
  • 1911: Robert is living with his parents in Grimsthorpe, Lincolnshire. The census gives him an age of 14 and he is listed as an oddman at Estate Agents house.
Relatives in services

  • None found


  • No marriage for Robert has been found and because of his age we can assume that he never had the opportunity to marry.

Newspaper Mentions

  • Grantham Journal Saturday 5th February 1916
  • Pte. R Armstrong, 8th Lincolns
  • It is with deep regret we have to record the death of Pte. Robert Armstrong, from wounds received in France. He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Armstrong, of Grimsthorpe. With others from Edenham, he joined Lord Kitchener’s Army, in September 1914, and in August 1915, with the 8th Lincolns, went to the front, and was at the battle of Loos, the end of September. In this engagement he escaped unhurt, but one of his comrades, Pte. Fred Smith, of Edenham, has been missing ever since, and another, Pte. J. Botherway, was wounded. It was while on sentry duty on January 21st that he was severely wounded in the head, and though everything possible was done at the base hospital to which he was conveyed, he succumbed to his injuries without regaining consciousness, on January 26th. The sad news was received by his sorrowing parents in a letter from one of the sisters of the Hospital, on Friday last, and in the evening a dumb peal  was rung. Before joining the Army, Armstrong and Smith were two of the ringers at Edenham Church, and their comrades desire to express their deepest sympathy with the parents. The greatest sympathy is felt by all for the bereaved, and on Sunday the Vicar spoke of the matter as follows:- We are mourning, deeply and sincerely, for the loss of one belonging to us who has given his life for his King and country.  Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for his friends. More cannot be done by any one for us or for his country than to die for it. Such a death is fell of honour, and is worth more than the longest of old age or than a multitude of ordinary lives. Such teats as our nation is now going through bring out the heroism of individuals and the true greatness of a people. The whole British Empire has risen to the same high standard of loyalty and duty. We may be glad and proud the our generation is meeting the stern test of war with as fine and great a spirit as was ever shown by any of our forefathers. As we know what their heroism and courage have achieved, we may look forward with confidence to a victorious issue from our own trial.  Gigantic as our present struggle is, we have had to face greatest dangers in the past and we have dealt successfully with countries who were relatively far stranger in population and resources than Germany is when compared with the British Empire and its Allies.  In the hardest of our former wars, most of our present Allies were against us, and for a time during the struggle of twenty years the island of Great Britain stood alone against a whole world in arms, led and organised by the genius of Napoleon.  That great man helped to form and extend the British Empire; the present German Emperor has done more than any other single person to unite and consolidate it.  Our most urgent duty in the future will be to see that this unity and consolidation becomes a reality in trade, finance, law and all matters of defence. We must drift no longer. Whatever the general results of the struggle may be, the individual losses demanded by it are grievous and hard to be borne.  we are all losers through the disappearance of Robert Armstrong, who in so many ways was an exemplary and most popular member of our community.  In all that he did he gave his best; and not the least valuable of his gifts was the cheery and happy manner in which they were bestowed.  Most of all are the losers who were connected with him more nearly by the ties of family and friendship.  We imagine what their blank must and will be; and they have our cordial sympathy, far more that in ordinary bereavements, because in these cases we have a right to join in their sorrow, since it is undergone for reasons in which we all are concerned. We are all equally interested in those who are giving and risking their lives on our behalf.  While we mourn those who are lost, let us not fail to remember that those who die in this righteous and necessary war, which has been forced upon our Sovereign and his Allies, are martyrs in the truest sense, not only in the high cause of patriotism, but in the still higher causes of liberty and civilisation.  They become heroes in the service of humanity; and. alas! there is no heroism without the risk or the certainty of sacrifice.  Those who are killed or maimed in this was are also victims demanded by the crimes and bestiality of those who would destroy everything that makes human life worth living.  Unless righteousness and justice, and liberty and kindly human feeling are to vanish out of the earth, let us be sure that in due time the world will be delivered from the abominations with which it is being threatened; and that the sacrifice of noble and gallant lives in the defence of all that is best and most precious to us, will not have been made in vain. Therefore, the sword of Justice must never be sheathed until the full work of retribution has been completed, and an adequate punishment inflicted upon the authors of the foulest and most colossal crimes which have ever been committed.
  • News has also been received that another from this village, Pte. Edgar Green, was wounded on January 22nd, though not seriously, and on Tuesday morning his parents received the welcome intelligence that the bullet had been removed, and he was going on well.


  • Grantham Journal Saturday 26th February 1916
  • ON ACTIVE SERVICE – Lance Corpl. Oliver Davies (mast of Edenham School), 2nd Lincolns, writing home, says;- “You may be sure I was grieved to hear the news of Robert Armstrong.  It must be a terrible blow to his people. We have had a tremendous lot of artillery wok on both sides lately. Whizz-bangs and pip-squeaks are not nice, but they are the order of the day. Not long ago we had a taste of bombs, but they didn’t get us. Our billets are as comfortable as can be expected, quite dry. In the last one we had wire beds raised from the ground. Just now we are on a nice dry, wooden floor, hard but quite comfortable enough to have a good night’s rest. We have had no sign of snow as yet. In fact, this is the mildest, and , of course the muddiest, winter I have yet known”. Lance-Corpl. H. H. Steel (certified assistant-master, Bourne Council School), 1st Lincolns, writing to Mr J. J. Davies, says :- “We had an aeroplane over our billets in this town three nights ago, bomb dropping, too. I daresay they were trying to find one of the company billets. I hear they made a bog hole in the street, though I haven’t seen it myself. I heard the report of the explosion, and we took little notice, for shells find a resting-place in this vicinity every day. The Germans have certainly surprised many with regard to these aerial monsters. A fortnight ago, the Germans yelled over to our lads, ‘We shall be in —- (The town we billet in) in less than a week.’ We are still waiting for they are rather overdue. to crown it all, all the boys of our company asked to ‘Go over the tops and stick into ’em.’ But, of course, they were not allowed to go. The ‘Old Corps,’ as we Lincolns are called, still has lads who know no fear, lads who will, when the opportunity occurs, add further lustre to the glorious history of the gallant Old Tenth. Please remember me to the staff and the boys and friends.” Corporal Arthur Webster, C Company, 7th Lincolns, who was wounded in the Gallipoli campagn, writing to Mr. J. J. Davies from “somewhere in France,” says :- “I am now first-rate. We are out at the front again, not far from the enemy – indeed, not many yards so we shall be all right. I hope we shall all have the luck to come out of it. At present, it is very cold here. There have been heavy rainfalls, and very sharp frosts at nights, and that has made it a bit cold. All Well. Kindest regards to the boys of the old school.” Private J. Stevenson (son of Mr. C. Stevenson of Bourne), Machine Gun Section, 1st Lincolns, writing from “Somewhere in France,” to Mr J. J. Davies, says :- “The weather is unpleasent at times; we have had so much wet that it is a job to keep our feet warm. I am now in the trenches, and am writing this in my dug-out, where I spend my spare time. Please remember me to the boys at the school, and to my friends in Bourne. What a happy thing it will be for the world when this war will be over.”


  • Grantham Journal Saturday 27th January 1917
  • In loving memory of Pte. Robert Armstrong, eldest son of Mr and Mrs R Armstrong, Grimsthorpe, and grandson of the late Mr H. Havercroft, Corby, who died of wounds January 26th, 1916, aged 19 years.


Military Records

Attestation Papers

  • None found

Soldier’s Died In The Great War

  • These records show that Private Robert Henry Armstrong, 11880, 8th Bn Lincolnshire Regiment was killed in action on 25th January 1916 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders.

Pension Records

  • None found

Effects Left To

  • Father John R


  • The British Medal
    The Victory Medal
    The 15 Star


  • UK:
  • Edenahm, Roll of Honour in St Michael and All saints Church


  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
  • In memory of Private Robert Henry Armstrong, 11880, 8th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 25 January 1916 Age 18
  • Son of John Robert and Emma Jane Armstrong, of Grimsthorpe, Bourne, Lincs.
  • Remembered with honour, Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord

© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials

© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials

Military Service Timeline

Robert was born in 1896 in Edenham, the eldest child of John Robert Armstrong of Grimsthorpe, an engine driver, and his wife Emma Jane Havercroft. The couple were married in the Bourne District in 1896 and settled in Grimsthorpe where they brought up their six children.
Robert Henry Armstrong, 1896, Edenahm
Elsie Caroline Armstrong, 1899, Grimsthorpe
Margaret Mary Havercroft Armstrong, 1900, Grimsthorpe
Annie May Armstrong, 1904, Grimsthorpe
John Armstrong, 1906, Grimsthorpe
George W Armstrong, 1910, Grimsthorpe
John Robert (also known as Robert) had been an engine driver on Grimsthorpe Estate for some time before the couple were married.
On the 1901 census Robert 4 year old Robert was living with his Parents and his younger sisters Elsie and Margaret on Grimsthorpe Estate.
On the 1901 census John R (Robert) Armstrong has given his occupation as Estate Engine Driver. At that time Lord Willoughby had a private railway that ran through he estate. It could be possible that Armstrong was the driver of this engine although on a later census return he is employed as General Engineer, Traction Engine Driver.
In 1911 the family are still in. Grimsthorpe and now 14 year old Robert junior is working as an oddman at Estate Agent’s house and the younger children are all still at school. The estate agent in question would most likely be the estate agent for the Grimsthorpe Estate.
Robert and his friend Fred Smith were both bell Ringers at Edenham Church
In September 1914 a few local Edenham lads decided that they were to do their duty and all signed to enlist In the Army. Robert Armstrong was posted to the 8th Lincolns a new battalion that had been established on the 15th September 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Third New Army (K3).
The Battalion trained at Grimsby during August 1914, and then in November moved to Halton Park near Tring for training as part of the 21st Brigade of the 21st Division and then moved to Leighton Buzzard.
In the spring of 1915 the Battalion moved back to Halton Park Camp, Wendover and miniature rifle practice commenced. After completing the musketry course and a Review by Lord Kitchener, the Battalion moved to Witley Camp North, marching past His Majesty the King and Lord Kitchener, 12 August 1915.
All the Battalion commanders had been in retirement at the outbreak of war. Of the 21st Division in which the 8th Lincolnshire were attached only 14 officers had any previous experience in the Regular army.
We take up Robert’s story from the reports of the Battalion Diary of leaving England to their first tour of the trenches.
10-09-1915 – Whitley Camp
7.10pm Battalion under the command of Lt Col H E Walter left camp at 6pm and entrained at Milford Station. Journeyed via Folkestone to Boulogne; in rest camp for 1 day; Officers 28 + 2 personnel, 923 other ranks.
11-9-15 – Boulogne
Entrained at Pont des Bargues St for Watten; Billeted at Bayenghem Les Eperlecques.
13-9-15 – Bayenghem
Captains Preston. Harrison + Lieuts Parker, Brown + Rowcroft spend 24 hours in the trenches of the 2nd Corps. The first two machine gun sections under Lieut R G Cordiner were attached to 63rd Brigade Headquarters M G Detachment.
2nd Lieut Cragg and Sgts Cummins + Wood attended a 4 day course of instruction at M.G. School at Wisques. (a point of interest is that 2nd Lt Cragg was from Threekingham and is also commemorated on our web site)
During stay at Bayenghem the Battalion Participated in Brigade and Divisional exercises and were also practiced in bombing and the use of the new pattern respirator.
20-9-15 – Racquinghem
7pm Battalion left Bayenghem and bivouacked one night at Racquinghem.
21-9-15 – Norrent
8.45pm Battalion left Racquinghem and billeted at Norrent
22-9-15 – Cauchy-a-la-Tour
6.30pm Battalion left Norrent and billeted at Cauchy-a-la-tour. Battalion addressed by Brigadier General N Nickalls comanding 63rd Brigade.
24-9-15 – Fours-a-chaux
7.30pm Battalion left Casauchy-a-la-Tour and bivouacked at Fours-a-Chaux 1 1/2 miles from Noeux-Les-Mines.
25-9-15 –
10.30am Battalion with 8th Bn Somerset L I was warned for the firing line.
2.30-pm Verrmelles reached; under artillery fire.
7.10pm Battalion moved into position forming part of relieving force to the 15th Division: 24th Division was on our left and the 8th Somerset Light Infantry on our right.
28-9-15 – Vermelles
8.15pm Owing to casualties in officers Capt H Pattinson became acting commander of the Battalion; acting 2nd in command Capt J T Preston; acting adjutant Lieut Brown.
Battalion left Vermelles and proceeded by road and rail to Linghem.
29-9-15 – Linghem
9am Strength 6 officers + 3 personnel, Other Ranks 522.
As can be seen from the two at strength reports the Battalion lost 22 officers and 401 other ranks during their first engagements of the 25th – 27th during the Battle of Loos.
A report submitted as appendix 1 in the battalion diary explains those days.
On the night of the 25th September our Battalion left the road leading to Loos and formed lines of platoons in fours. After a short advance we halted for three hours. We then advanced in echelon formation over the trenches. After advancing for about three hours, in short stages, we halted for a short time and then moved in the direction of Hill 70.
We dug ourselves in during the night. It was now daybreak.
Major storer came to us and said “All is well’. The advance will commence at 11am. In the meantime we were under heavy shell and rifle fire. We then advanced meeting great numbers of the enemy. A short retirement took place the Battalion making a new line of men composed of various units about 400 x in rear of of pour first position.
We again advanced under the comm and of the nearest officer. By this time a great number of our officers had become casualties.
The men continued to fight with the units to which they had become attached.
On the 27th The Regiment was relieved by a unit of guards.
During this battle an immediate gain was overturned and the highly inexperienced Battalion Suffered tremendous losses
It was at the battle of Loos that although Robert escaped unscathed, fellow Edenham lads Private Fred smith was posted as missing and Private J Botherway was wounded. Another local lad Robert Wyer is believed to be another casualty of this action’s 401 wounded. We Can see from the Battalion Diary that with their reduced fighting strength they did not go back into the front line in October.
On the 26th October the battalion returned to the frot and were posted to billets in Armentieres where they spent the remainder of the month in support working on trench defences.
From the 3rd November the Battalion was split into two halves and each half took time in the trenches for instruction, the initial Half battalion relieved by the second half and so on until the end of the 8th – 10th November when they took up positions in he trenches once more as a fighting battalion.
The rest of November would see the battalion take tours of the trenches as was now regular patterns for front line troops. 4 days in the front line, 4 in the reserve and then returned to billets for the same period, thus rotating the tours.
The same rotation would be the norm for December with the Battalion spending their first Christmas Day at the front in Billets in their 4 days out of the trenches. During this winter period the Battalion would nearly suffer more casualties from the shelling of billers as they would from front line trench action.
We take up the battalion Diary again on the 19th January 1916 after the Battalion had just returned from three full days in billets in Armentieres.
19th January 1916
Battalion relieved 4th Middlesex in trenches (1 casualty – wounded) Dispositions, Trench 70 and subsidiary lines no 3 and trench 71-72A – No 1. trench 72b – 73 no 2.
20th January 1916
Battalion in trenches – 2 casualties (1 killed, 1 wounded)
21st January 1916
Battalion in trenches – 1 casualty (Killed)
22nd January 1916
Battalion in trenches – 2 casualties ( 2 wounded)
23rd January 1916
Battalion relieved in trenches by 4th Middlesex at 7-50pm
Whilst on sentry duty on the 21st January 1916 Robert Armstrong was shot in the head and conveyed to the Base Hospital, although he never regained consciousness and died of wounds on the 26th January 1916.
One of the sisters of the Hospital; wrote to John and Emma Armstrong giving them the sad news about Robert.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Robert Henry Armstrong, 11880, 8th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 25 January 1916 Age 18. Son of John Robert and Emma Jane Armstrong, of Grimsthorpe, Bourne, Lincs.
Remembered with honour, Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord
A glance at the medals rolls for the 8th Lincs shows an interesting page as along with our three aledady known Edenham men, plus the two Wyer brothers from Hacconby, we also find Harry Vernon Wright from neighbouring Bulby, who’s brother James was also killed serving with the 4th Lincolns, John Thomas Taylor also of Edenham and Bourne man Harold Fortescue.
11880 – Private Robert Henry Armstrong (Edenham Memorial)
11881 – Private William Cornwall
11882 – Private Harry Vernon Wright (Bulby)
11183 – Private Horace William Pick
11184 – Private Frederick Thomas Smith (Edenham Memorial)
11185 – Corporal Horace Fortescue (Bourne)
11189 – L/Corporal John Thomas Taylor (Edenham Memorial)


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