ROBERT EDWARD STODDARD 

Rank: Gunner
Service Number: 63932.
Regiment: Royal Garrison Artillery Died of wounds Tuesday 19th June 1917Age unknownCounty Memorial Crewe
Commemorated\Buried DUISANS BRITISH CEMETERY, ETRUN
Grave\Panel Ref: III.L.28.
France
Robert Edward Stoddard, son of Robert Fletcher and Annie, was born in Market Drayton in 1892. Robert Snr was a journeyman on the railway and his son, Robert Edward, would also go on to work in the railway industry from the tender age of 14.

In 1911, three years before the outbreak of the Great War, Robert had lost his father. Living at home with his Mother and two brothers, he was working for London and North West Railway by whom he had been promoted from a general labourer to a workshop checker.

Robert Stoddard was well known as a footballer within the community, having played for Macclesfield Town and Crewe Alexandra, winning two medals for his exploits.

At the age of 23, Robert enlisted into the Royal Garrison Artillery, where he was given the regimental number of 63932. When he joined up, he was 5’7 ¼” and he had a small scar on the medial side of his left knee - the recipient of a particular nasty tackle, perhaps? He served on the home front from 9th November 1915 to 8thApril 1917 during which time he served at the Humber Defences. Soon after, on the 19thof April 1917, he was sent to France leaving Sarah, his wife, whom he had married in 1915. A few weeks later, on 1st May, he joined the 170thSiege Battery.

Robert’s battery, with which he was an aeroplane spotter, was in the Arras sector from April to October 1917. On the 19thof June, a sugar factory near Arras, where Robert was stationed, received heavy enemy shelling which was so intense the battery could not respond. They barrage lasted for 3 ½ hours and Robert was caught by a shell, receiving horrible wounds to the head, arm and back (penetrating his abdomen). Robert was transported to the 8thCasualty Clearing Station, in Duisans, near Arras, for treatment.

As a consequence of the place and nature of his wounds, however, there was nothing that could be done for Gunner Stoddard and he died later that day before being buried in the cemetery adjacent to the Casualty Clearing Station . The Cemetery is now Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun.

After his death, Robert's personal effects were sent back to Sarah. These included postcards, a cigarette case, a tooth pick, Xmas cards, 2 pipes and letters, presumably from his wife or mother, back in Crewe.