Date of birth: 1876
Place of birth: Grantham, Lincolnshire
Service No.: 18573
Regiment / Division: Royal Garrison Artillery
Battalion: 531st Battery
Died: 21st March 1920 aged 42 years
Death Location: Southampton
Life before the War
Robert’s parents were John Smallman and Mary nee Groves. John was born on 5th October 1851 Welshpool, Montgomeryshire, Wales. Mary was born 1852 and died in Southampton in 1899.
John and Mary married in 1876. Robert was the eldest child and he had 2 brothers :William Albert b.1879 Welshpool, Wales d.31st January 1950 and Ernest Groves b.10th April 1883 St. Clement Lane, London and 2 sisters Frances Ellen b.1884 Drury Lane, Middlesex and Lilian Groves b.1887 baptised 5th October 1887 St James Norland, Kensington who married Walter Henry Cousens 1909 d.1967.
In the census of 1881, the family were living at 4, Craven Yard, St. Clements Danes, London. John was employed as a Milk Carrier.
In the 1891 census John was living as a boarder at 129, Queens Road, Berkshire. William was living with his aunt and uncle and their family at Great Hope Farm. His uncle, Evan Roberts, was a Farmer who was an employer who hired 3 servants. William was attending school.
In the census of 1901, the family had moved to Hampshire and living at 214, Southampton Road, Eastleigh. John was a widow and at the time of the census was unemployed. His sons William and Ernest were Milk Carriers and Frances was a House Keeper.
In the census of 1911 John was unemployed his sons, William was a Brewers Agent and Ernest was working for Chipp as a Milk Carrier, all were living at 37, Amoy Street, Southampton. Also in the household was his married daughter Frances Ellen Saunders and her daughter Gladys Selina.
William Albert’s National Probate
“Woof William Albert of 37 Amoy Street Southampton died 31 January 1950. Administration Winchester 17 May 1950 to Lilian Groves Cosens (wife of Walter Henry Cosens) (married sister). Effects £1468 11s 7d”
War Service Records
Robert enlisted on 21st August 1900 at Chelmsford, Essex. He was appointed to the Corps of Hussars of the Line. He gave his occupation prior to joining as Milk Carrier. He gave his religion as both Wesleyan and later Church of England. During the Great War, he was transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery, 531st Battery. His rank was Gunner and his service number was 18573.
Robert was admitted to hospital on the 18th March 1920. He died at 10 a.m. on 21st March 1920 of pneumonia following influenza at Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, Hampshire. A telegram was sent to his family, advising them of his death on the same day. He is Remembered with Honour at Southampton Old Cemetery, Hill Lane, Southampton. His grave reference is 149 N 198.
Frances wrote to his company asking for his personal possessions and in the letter mentioned his invalid brother who Robert helped to support. His personal possessions were sent to his sister Frances Ellen on the 1st September 1910 at 37, Amoy Street, Bedford Place, Southampton.
His sister Frances Ellen Saunders wrote to the Commanding Officer of the RGA, requesting his British Service, Victory Medals along with his Long Service and Conduct Medals. Robert had served for 20 years.