2nd Lt. Robert Hartley DEAKIN (1895 – 1917)

Robert Hartley DEAKIN was the oldest son of William Robert DEAKIN and his second wife Mary Jane DEAKIN (née HARTLEY). Robert was born on 28 January 1895, at 86 Swinley Road, Wigan, Lancashire.

In the 1901 Census, Robert is listed as a ‘Scholar’ living at 14 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan, with his parents William and Mary, his brothers, sisters and widowed grandmother Peggy HARTLEY.

From the age of 10, Robert boarded at New College, Pannal, Harrogate, Yorkshire (his name is inscribed on the rear panel of the War Memorial in the grounds of Ashville College, Harrogate). After New College his parents move to Toddington, Gloucestershire, on 15 September 1909, Robert started at Cheltenham Grammar School for Boys (CGS), initially as a day boy (he later boarded) leaving school on 29 July 1914.

Robert was a CGS Scholar (awarded a £10 maintenance grant by the Governors for one school year), a School Prefect (appointed Michaelmas Term 1912) and House Captain of H.E. House (appointed Michaelmas Term 1913, his younger brother George Deakin was appointed Vice-Captain that year). In The Patesian he is described as being “Quite the tidiest boy in the School. His motto is: Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

Robert was a keen sportsman, playing in his school’s 1st XV rugby football team (1911 to 1914 awarded a Rugby Forward Honours Cap, 1912-13 season) and Captain of House Rugby Football. He also participated in athletics (winner of the Corfield Cup for the Mile and Vassar-Smith Cup, Sports Day April 1914 – Robert’s brother George came 2nd, 17½ and 17 points respectively), water polo and was a member of the school’s swimming team (1912 to 1914).

Photo from The Patesian of 1st XV Cheltenham Grammar School Rugby Team 1913-1914, Robert seated middle row, third from left:

Back row left to right: L.H.H. Clark, A.L. Cummins, C.M. Caudle, M.G. Tate, T.T. Morley, R. Morley, R.W. Pratt
Middle row: George Deakin, E. A. Barnard, R.H. Deakin, W.B. Boone (Capt.), Mr Chaney (staff), A.W. Facer, F.F. Leach
Front row: C.J. Price and W.J. Harding
© Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham

Photo of Robert winning a race during a Sports Day at Cheltenham Grammar School:

From The Patesian:

Deakin, R. of might forelock, in his Norfolk jacket clad,
Once was known to do his belt up, but felt the change too sad:
Now if rumour has it rightly (I’m informed this very day)
He is going to have a haircut, to get weight off for Sports Day

Haunts and Habits of Our Rare Old Birds

Robert was also Vice-President of the school’s debating society, an inaugural member and Vice-Captain of the school’s photography society and a competitive chess player.

During the Michaelmas Term of 1913, Robert was awarded an Open Natural Sciences Exhibition (worth £50 pa) by Oxford University. He went on to study at Jesus College matriculating on 10 October 1914. Robert passed the preliminary examination in Natural Sciences in December 1914, however, he was only at Oxford for a few months before leaving and going to war.

In November 1914, through Oxford University’s Military Education Committee, Robert applied for a temporary commission in the Regular Army for the period of the war, stating ‘Infantry’ as his preferred branch of service, preferably with either the South Lancashire, South Yorkshire, Worcestershire or Gloucestershire regiments. 

During 1915, Robert was admitted as a Cadet to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, joining the South Lancashire Regiment. Robert was commissioned as an officer into the Indian Army on 22nd December 1915 and became a Company Officer with the 10th Jats (one of the oldest and most distinguished of the Indian regiments with both British and Indian officers). He served in Bombay, India, Miranshah in Waziristan on the North West Frontier on the edge of the British Empire and also with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. From 28 March 1916 Robert was promoted from Second Lieutenant to the rank of Lieutenant in the Indian Army. 

In January 1917, Robert volunteered for service in the Royal Flying Corps and was appointed as a Flying Officer on 26th April 1917 and promoted to temporary Lieutenant on 1st June of that year. After a brief pilot training, on 26th June 1917, Robert was posted to 45 Squadron in Northern France (see Robert’s RFC history).

2nd Lt (acting Lt) Robert H. Deakin 10th Jats Indian Army (an infantry division of the British Indian Army) and 45 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, of Norton Hall, Worcester, died on 22 July 1917, aged 22. He was posted as ‘Missing’ by the India Office on 25 July 1917 and has no known grave. At the time of his death, Robert was based at Ste Marie-Cappel, near Cassel, on the French-Belgian border just south of Ypres, flying Sopwith Strutters.

His name is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial in the Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery, France and on the War Memorials in Pershore Abbey, St Andrew’s Church, Toddington and The Square, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.

Robert Hartley Deakin, 1914

Parents of Robert Hartley Deakin

William Robert Deakin
Mary Jane Deakin (née Hartley)

Siblings of Robert Hartley Deakin

Samuel Wesley Deakin
John Bertram Deakin
May Elizabeth Deakin
William George Deakin MC
Bessie Deakin
George Deakin MC
James Stanley Deakin

Rear panel of the Ashville College War Memorial © Steve Miller)
Arras Flying Services Memorial
Robert H. Deakin’s inscription at Arras

Memorial Board at Pate’s Grammar School