Sergeant Robert BRUNT

Manchester Regiment
23rd (Service) (8th City Pals) Battalion
(Attached: 7th Battalion, Queen's Own
- Royal West Kent Regiment.)
Service Number:
Date of Death:
4 April 1918 - Killed in Action
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 64 to 67.

Personal History:

Robert was born at 77 London Road, Buxton in the June quarter 1887, the younger son of Thomas Birch (Wheelwright) and Sarah Brunt (1891 Census RG 12/2778). He had three older brothers, Thomas R., George and John Edwin.

In the December quarter 1908 Robert married Ada Holden, and by the 1911 Census (RG 14/21242) they had a son, Robert Holden, and a daughter, Phyllis May, and were living at 4 Dinleys Buildings London Road Buxton, and Robert was employed as a "Carter on a Farm". At some time before his enlistment in 1916 Robert and his family moved to live an work in Manchester. His father, Thomas, died in the June quarter 1915. His widowed mother moved to High Street, Buxton.

Military History:
Robert's Army Service Records have not survived a Luftwaffe bombing raid in September 1940, so details of his service can only be deduced from other sources. Neither does his Medal Index Card give any details of, for example, when he entered France. According to 'The Buxton Advertiser' (25 May 1918) Robert enlisted at Manchester in 1916, whilst working there.

The 23rd (8th City Pals) Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, was raised at Manchester on 21st November 1914 as a Bantam Battalion for men between the height of five feet and five feet three inches. This was the last of the Service Battalions actually raised in Manchester and completed the 91st (City) Brigade. The Battalion originally entered France, after training, in February 1916, but the 'Buxton Advertiser' would suggest that Robert was not with the original entitlement.

On 1st February 1918 the Battalion was moved to Divisional Reserve at Kempton Park. They were then told that, as a result of the reorganisation of infantry brigades, the Battalion was to be disbanded. It is possible that during this reorganisation Robert was attached to the 7th Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, which had landed at Le Havre in July 1915. The 7th Battalion was overwhelmed on 21st March 1918, the first day of the German Spring Offensive.

Robert's 7th Battalion was suffered large casualties on the first day. CWGC Records list 51 Officers and men killed and the History records: "Battalion annihilated on the first day of the German Spring Offensive (der Kaiserslacht)". Many more were taken prisoner, at least 15 Officers, including Lt. Col. J. D. Crosthwaite, DSO., MC., among them. The remnant of the 7th moved round to Amiens and amalgamated with the 12th Entrenchment Battalion.

On the 28th March, however, a reconstituted 7th Battalion were in action again and another 65 Officers and men were killed in action. The Battalion History says that: "At the end of March 1918, "16 Officers" and "577 other ranks" were still "missing" from the 7th Battalion, it having been "almost obliterated" after exposure to "the full weight of the terrific bombardment."

As part of the 18th Division Robert's Battalion might have been in action at the Battle of Avre (4 - 5 April 1918), but suffered few casualties, one of which was Robert, killed in action on 4th April 1918. He, like so many of the men killed in this period, has no known grave.

He is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial which relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields, and the months that followed before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8th August 1918. The Memorial names 14654 soldiers who have no known grave.

· The Buxton Advertiser 25 May 1918

Commemorated on:
Link to CWGC Record
Sgt. Robert Brunt
Sgt Brunt's name on The Pozieres Memorial
The Pozieres Memorial