Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Private David Alexander Robb - 5th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers

Carrickfergus remembers today: Private David Alexander Robb - 3765 - 5th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, born Carrickfergus 2 September 1882, died in France 26 October 1918.

David Alexander Robb was born in Carrickfergus in September 1882 the eldest child of David and Mary Ann (McGiffen) Robb and brother to Mary Ann, William, Charles, Samuel, Hugh, Thomas, Bella and Martha. David spent his early years in the town before moving with the family to Belfast around 1890. By 1901 the entire family were living on Cosgrave Street in Belfast and David was working at Harland & Wolff Ship Builders. He married Elizabeth Doyle on 26 November 1900 in Trinity Church of Ireland, Clifton Street, Belfast and together they had seven children; Margaret (1901), Elizabeth (1902), Mary (1905), David Alexander (died aged 7 months in 1907), Samuel Hugh (1908), Agnes (1910), Jane (1913), and William John (1915).

David and his young family moved to 16 Portland Street Belfast in 1902, it was here he was living when he joined the Antrim Royal Garrison Artillery Special Reserve in Carrickfergus in August 1908 aged 23. David’s medical file reported him to be 5 foot 5 inches tall with black hair and brown eyes. He took part in the two week annual camp each summer between 1909 and 1913, during which time he completed various military training courses. David continued his main employment at Harland & Wolff throughout his reserve army career and by 1911 the family had relocated to Southwell Street in the city.

As war loomed in 1914 the reserve army training was stepped up and David reported to Carrickfergus in June and July for additional drill. He was mobilised on 5 August 1914 and posted to the Antrim Garrison Artillery Coastal Defence. In January 1915 he is charged with misconduct (the details are unclear) and is sentenced to 28 days detention. Perhaps as a result he requests a transfer to the Royal Irish Fusiliers and in June 1915 is posted to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion Fusiliers who were based in Carrickfergus at that time.

Following a period of training he is sent to the Balkans on active service in October 1915; conditions taking their toll on him he is forced from action less than a month later with dysentery and sent to the divisional hospital in Salonika. He returned to active service after four months recovery and remained in Salonika until November 1917 before being deployed to Egypt and Palestine as part of the Palestine Campaign.

In April 1918 David is deployed to France with the 6th Battalion, embarking at Port Said and arriving at Marseilles on 27 May. It appears after arriving in France he was assigned duties at the Battalion depot where he suffered successive bouts of illness in June, July and September 1918 all requiring hospital treatment. Unable to fight off the affects of illness or disease David died at 7th General Military Hospital France on 26 October 1918 and was buried at Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille (France) location VI. C. 48. (pictured)

News of his death was passed home to Elizabeth and the grieving family who by now were living on Vere Street, Belfast. Elizabeth received the war windows pension and lived in Belfast until her death in 1959.


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