SKELTON - IN - CLEVELAND
"WE WILL REMEMBER THEM"
168 Private ROBERT ["ROBBIE"] APPLETON.
Northumbrian Div, Cyclist Coy, Army Cyclist Corps.
Formerly 3101 Yorkshire Regiment.
Killed in action, aged 19, on the 24th May 1915.
Born and Enlisted at Skelton in Cleveland.
Son of John and Annie Appleton, of 8 Manless Green Terrace, Skelton in Cleveland, N Yorks.
Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres.
1901. Robert, aged 5, was living at 30 Green Rd and been born in Skelton.
His father, who worked as an Ironstone miner, came from Swainby N Yorks and his mother from Stanghow, N Yorks.
He had two sisters, Emma aged 7 and Edith 4.
1911. The family are at 30 Green Road, Skelton and Robert, age 15, is working as a Bricklayer's Apprentice.
His Father, John, age 42 is now a Deputy Underground in the Ironstone mines, born at Swainby Whilton.
His Mother, Annie, age 39, was born at Stanghow, N Yorks. She has had 4 children and all still living.
Emma and Edith have left home and he has another sister Winifred, age 5.
His family placed the following notice in the In Memoriam column of the local newspaper-
APPLETON - In ever loving memory of our dear and only son (Robbie).
Cyclist R Appleton, age 20, of 5 Green Road, Skelton-in-Cleveland, who was killed in action May 24th 1915 (Whit Monday).
Ever remembered by his ever loving father, mother and sisters Emma, Edith and Winnie.
He did his duty.
He left his home in the flower of youth
He seemed so strong and brave
We little thought how soon he would
Be laid in a hero's grave."
Robert's attestation paper below shows that he enlisted, aged just 18, on the 13th November 1914 at Skelton.
The Attesting Officer was Edward Hamilton, Major in the 4th Yorks and Estate Agent for Skelton Castle.
The Witness in Martin Videan, Secretary to the Skelton Co-operative Society.
His own son, Stanley, was killed, aged 24, on the 20th June 1916 defending the Trenches below Ypres.
A Medical examination was performed by the local doctor, Thorney. Robert was a small lad, standing 5ft 5 in with a 33 inch chest.
He was enlisted into the local 4th Yorks Battalion and on the 15th December transferred to the Cyclists Corps.
Robert went to France on the 19th April 1915, when the local Territorials first went and was killed within 5 weeks.
The Army Cyclist Corps were formed in 1915 to encompass 14 existing Cyclist battalions.
As the first units went overseas, they were broken up as divisional companies serving in something of a reconnaissance role.
Many "cyclists" were used as infantrymen.
Robert Appleton lost his life at the end of the Second Battle of Ypres.
This encompassed four battles in the northern sector of the Ypres Salient.
The first of these began on 22 April 1915 as a surprise attack by the German 4th Army on the Allied front line.
This attack witnessed the first use of a new German weapon on the Western Front: poisonous gas.
Its deadly effect was carried on a gentle breeze towards French troops and as a result of its devastating effect on the French the German infantry made a significant advance into Allied territory.
During the next four weeks the Allied Forces of Belgium, France and Britain fought to hold off the successful German advance and to regain the ground that had been lost north of Ypres.
The fourth battle ended on 25 May 1915, the day after Robert died.
The Menin Gate bears Robert's name and around 55,000 other UK and Commonwealth men who died in the Ypres battles and have no known grave.