Sunday, 13 June 2010

Corporal Robert Darling

Robert Darling enlisted into the Northern Cyclist's Battalion 2 weeks after the commencement of World War One.

The Northern Cyclists Battalion were a Territorial Force unit which was mobilised at the commencement of World War One. The unit was tasked with providing mobile defence of the Northumbrian Coast, and despite the battalion volunteering for overseas service, it remained in the UK throughout the war. The unit became a draft finding unit providing officers and men for service overseas.

It is believed that Robert Darling was transferred to the Northumberland Fusiliers as part of one of those drafts and was posted to the 20th Battalion NF (1st Tyneside Scottish).

On the 1st day of the Somme, 1st July 1916, the 20th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers (1st Tyneside Scottish)had sustained 631 casualties. Following these losses, the Tyneside Scottish Brigade was transferred to the 37th Division in to a quieter sector at Armentiers to re-constitute. During August 1916 the 20th Battalion NF received drafts to replace casualties, including a draft from the 1st Northern Cyclist Battalion.

It is thought that Robert Darling was part of this draft. His obituary states he arrived in France 10 months prior to his death in April 1917. This would indicate June 1916, where he may have been in an Infantry Base Depot until drafted to the front.

Robert Darling's movements in France

10th Aug 1916
Draft of 1st Northern Cyclist Battalion joins 20 NF - it is believed Robert Darling is in this draft. Initially Initially billeted at VILLERS-AU-BOIS

September 1917 to February 1917
In the trenches in ARMENTIERES sector.
Constant small attacks on the enemy. 22 minor operations within the 34th Division - 13 successful / 9 failed

26th Jan 1917
Relieved by 3rd Australian Division

18th February
March to ARRAS

24th February
ARRAS in the centre of that sector in the MALETERIE area.
Received information Enemy had withdrawn - German retreat to the Hindenburg Line

February / March April 1917
Trenches in the ARRAS sector

9th April 1917 to 20th April 1917

19th April 1917
Fatally Fatally wounded

27th April 1917
Died of wounds

30th May 1917
Awarded 34th Division Card of Honour

Corporal Robert Darling
20th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers
Died of wounds 27th April 1917
CWGC Information
CWGC Certificate

Robert Darling is buried in ROUEX BRITISH CEMETERY near Arras.

The Berwick Journal, May 24th 1917

‘Killed in action, 29th April, 1917, Corpl. Robt, Darling, Tyneside Scottish, dearly beloved husband of Mrs Robt. Darling, Ord Moor, aged 25. Sleep on, dear husband, in a far off grave, A grave we’ll never see But as long as life and memory lasts, We will remember thee’.

The place of premier honour goes to the gallant lad, Corpl. Robt. Darling, late of Tynside Scottish, who, without waiting till compulsion came along, at once responded to the call for Volunteers, just a fortnight after war was declared and was, on leaving Scremerston Colliery, mobilised for training on North East Coast with Northern Cyclists Battalion. He eventually volunteered for France and became attached to Tyneside Scottish. He had been out in France 10 months prior to receiving a fatal wound on 19th April last. We extend our sympathy to his sorrowing mother and his wife, who was formerly Miss Dryden of Ord Moor, who is resident with her father, Mr Joseph Dryden of the same place.

Letter from his Platoon Commander 2/Lt Milum Gibson MC
He died a glorious death – the death of a brave soldier in battle…and what is more he did not die unrecognised for his gallantry in action. He has been awarded a card of honour by our General for his bravery during the Battle of Arras.’


Memorials to the fallen of the Northern Cyclist Battalion (NCB) can be found in Saint Barnabas' Church, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne
North East War Memorials Project

Scremeston War Memorial
North East War Memorials Project

St Peter's Church Scremeston
A framed series of photographs containing 14 soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War.
North East War Memorials Project

Soldiers Who Died in Great War
The official record of Soldiers lost in the Great War contains details of individual soldiers.

Soldiers Who Died in the Great War, Part 10, Northumberland Fusiliers [20th Battalion NF page 78]

Darling, Robert, e Berwick upon Tweed, 27283, Cpl., k. in a., F & F, 28/4/18.

The date of death appears to be incorrect. He is recorded as dying 27th April 1917 by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, supported by the date of his obituary The Berwick Journal – May 24th 1917