895049 GNR. R. G. BUNN. R.F.A.
Robert George Bunn was born in the first quarter of 1896 in West Ham. His father was George William Bunn (b. 1861 in Acle, Norfolk), a brewery drayman. His mother was Elizabeth Esther Snazell (b. 1858 in Long Melford, Suffolk). George’s father died in 1872 and his mother remarried in 1878. George lived briefly with his grandparents before moving to London in the early 1880s. Elizabeth’s father was originally from Leyton but he had lived in Suffolk for about 10 years before moving back to the East End in about 1867. So although Robert was born in London he had family connections to East Anglia. George and Elizabeth were married on Christmas Day 1886 at All Saints Church, West Ham. They had seven children, though two died young. The survivors were: Lillie (b. 1891), Harriet (b. 1894), then Robert, then Ada (b. 1899) and Bertie (b. 1902). In 1911, they lived at 62 Vicarage Lane, Stratford. Robert was working as a junior clerk in a miller’s.
Robert was probably in the Territorials before the War. When he enlisted, probably at the end of 1914 or early 1915, he was initially given service number 195, which was later changed to 895049. This service number tells us that he was initially in the Divisional Ammunition Column of 54th (East Anglian) Division. In 1915, the infantry regiments in 54th Division fought at Gallipoli, but the artillery did not go with them. The Long Long Trail tells us that: The Divisional Artillery did not leave England when the Division embarked for service at Gallipoli. It remained at Brandon and Thetford and was there rearmed. It sailed for France from 17 November 1915 and concentrated near Blaringhem four days later. Entrainment began on 11 January 1916, embarkation at Marseilles began on 30 January and between 8-15 February 1916 the artillery had concentrated at Mena Camp and came once again under command of this Division. Mena Camp is in Egypt, and Robert’s Medal Index Card confirms that he entered service abroad on 17 November 1915, and the field of war was Egypt. Again, The Long Long Trail tells us: The divisional artillery rejoined at Mena Camp (Cairo) 11-15 February 1916. The Division occupied No 1 (Southern) Section of the Suez Canal defences on 2 April 1916. In 1917, the Division was engaged in the Palestine Campaign but Robert by this time had been transferred to D/276. My guess is that he suffered some form of illness in Egypt, was sent home to recuperate and then transferred to the unit in Flanders rather than going back to the Middle East.
So it seems likely that Robert was with D/276 throughout 1917. Unfortunately, the War Diaries for July-October 1917 are missing, so we don’t know the precise details of the action for those months, but we know that all British forces on the Western Front were engaged in preparations for the Third Battle of Ypres. More information can be found in the TimeLine page for 1917. Robert was killed in action near Ypres on 24 July 1917. He was 21 years old.
Service No: 895049
Date of Death: 24/07/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “D” Bty, 276th Bde. Cemetery/memorial reference: V. A. 9.
Cemetery/Memorial: VLAMERTINGHE NEW MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of George William and Elizabeth Esther Bunn, of Stratford, London.