Blackpool war hero honoured 100 years after death

Service for soldier Robert Bamber on the anniversary of his death 100 years ago in France.  Charles Sandbach with the soldier's medals.

Service for soldier Robert Bamber on the anniversary of his death 100 years ago in France. Charles Sandbach with the soldier's medals.

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Blackpool honoured the memory of one of its “ordinary heroes” a century on to the day when he was killed in action.

Robert Bamber died, aged 27, in the battles around Festubert and Givenchy in Northern France on June 16, 1915.

He was a member of the 8th battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment which he had joined in December 1914.

His body was never found after the battle and for a while he was listed as missing before being presumed dead. There are no known pictures of him. His story touched Blackpool resident Charles Sandbach who as a collector, owned Robert’s war medals.

He said: “I actually owned them twice. The first time I sold them to raise money for a charity I am involved in – The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Resolution – and then a few years later I saw them again for sale online and I thought it was meant to be that they should come back to me. Robert was a true Sandgrown’un, just an ordinary man who signed up to do his bit in the war. .

“His family must have gone through it when he was reported missing. Weeks of waiting and then eventually he was listed as dead.

“His body was never found and although he is named on the war memorial at St Paul’s Marton and on the Blackpool memorial it seemed only right to honour this ordinary man 100 years to the day that he was killed.

“Because it is a Tuesday, it is hard for people to get along so we are also having a service on Sunday at St Paul’s Marton, at 3pm where there will be members of the Veterans Association UK with their flags to honour him.

“He was unmarried and worked for the Blackpool Corporation as an engine driver before he signed up to join the Liverpool Regiment.

“It was a territorial regiment and was known as the Liverpool Irish. I am not sure why he joined that particular regiment, possibly some of his friends on the engines were Irish and he went with them.

“He would have had no military experience at all before he went to France and has no known grave, which I thought was very poignant.

“All the things we take for granted now have been handed down to us in a way by the people who fought for freedom in the wars.

Charles said he had a background working in mental health and got interested in post traumatic stress disorder which many ex-servicemen have suffered with.

“That is why I decided to do this. The church was delighted to help and actually the deacon there is anxious to find out the names of more of the servicemen who served for the memorial there.”