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  • Christina Drummond

Second Lieutenant Robert Seddon Caldwell, 8th Cyclist Battalion, Army Cyclist Corps

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Second Lieutenant Robert Seddon Caldwell, 8th Cyclist Battalion, Army Cyclist Corps, was killed in action on the Western Front.

Educated at the Church Institute in Bolton, and Denstone College in Staffordshire, he was articled to estate agents Looker & Theakston in Huntingdon when the Great War broke out, at which time he volunteered for active service. He at first joined the Huntingdon Cyclists Corps, then transferred to the Army Cyclists Corps, serving with the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders. He saw action at Ypres, Neuve Chapelle, Festubert, Givenchy and Loos. During the fighting on the Somme he was commissioned in February of 1918, and killed four months later while leading his men into action at Chateau Thierry.

Second Lieutenant Caldwell’s Commanding Officer wrote to his parents: “Although he had only been with us a very short time, we all felt his loss very much indeed. He was very good at his work, and very plucky in the face of the enemy. He was killed when we were attacking a wood held by the Germans. A machine gun opened on his platoon, he immediately ordered his men to charge, leading them himself. He was killed instantaneously by a bullet through the brain. On a previous occasion your son captured a machine gun, and behaved very bravely. He was a lad whom anyone might have been proud of, and a thoroughly good soldier.”

The previous occasion referred to in the letter was a week earlier when his battalion was attached to the French army – he was posthumously awarded the French Croix de la Guerre avec Palme as an “Officier de la plus grande bravoure” by General Henri Berthelot, commander of the 5th French Army. The award was sent to his mother two months later, his father having passed away, with a letter explaining that of the five classes of the award, his was the highest. He is buried in the Vandieres-Sous-Chatillon Churchyard, Marne, France.

Robert, from Huntingdon, was 24 years old.

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