Monday, October 6, 2014

Rifleman Robert Wasson - Bulls memorial

Rifleman Robert Wasson was born in Ireland when he came to New Zealand is unknown, he did have brothers in New Zealand so one can assume he came out with his family years earlier.  At the time of enlisting in May 1916 he was a farm labourer for J G Wilson, Fernbrigde, Bulls.  His next of kin on his military record is noted as Andrew Wasson (his brother) also a farm labourer in Bulls.  After enlisting Robert embarked with the 11th reinforcements attached to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  

A month after his arrival in France in January 1917 he fell ill and was sent back to England for treatment.  Once recovered he was given leave from 22 March 1917 to 6 April 1917.  During his leave he travelled to Ireland where he married Margaret Davis on 4 April 1917.  How he met Margaret is open to speculation; maybe she had nursed him, maybe he had known her from New Zealand, it would be great to find out the real story.

Robert was due to report back to Codford camp on 6 April 1917 however according to his military record it looks as though he may have been given an extension until 11 April but he still failed to report until 13 April when he was reported absent without leave (AWL) and forfeited 2 days pay.  He went AWL again from 9 July 1917 until 12 July 1917 I should imagine so that he could visit his new wife who may well have travelled back to the UK with him in April.  On this occasion he was forfeited 4 days pay and transferred from Codford to Sling Camp a month later.  

He was eventually posted back to France joining his battalion on 27 March 1918 and he did so with the knowledge that he would soon become a father.  On 17 June 1918 his wife Margaret gave birth to a baby boy in Ireland they called him Robert.  Robert was granted leave to visit on 12 July 1918 no doubt to visit his wife and new baby son.  Once the leave was over he rejoined his unit on 7 August 1918 and just over a month later he was sadly killed in action at Havrincourt, France on 12 September 1918.  He is remembered on the Grevillers (New Zealand) Memorial, Grevillers British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France.

His young son Robert would like many other children at that time grow up never knowing their fathers.  For Margaret it may have been some comfort that Robert did actually get to meet his son on his last leave.

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