Mid Wales

World War One soldier Robert Corfield recognised 99 years after death

Robert Corfield
Image caption Robert Corfield was due to serve on the Western Front

An Aberystwyth hairdresser's death during World War I has been officially recognised by the army nearly 100 years after his death.

West Wales War Memorial Project (WWWMP) campaign researchers have won an 18-month battle to secure formal recognition for Gunner Robert Corfield.

Gunner Corfield died on a training exercise near Bedford while serving with the Royal Field Artillery in 1915.

His name will now be entered in the United Kingdom Book of Remembrance.

He has also now been recorded in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) data base.


Robert Corfield, a self-employed hairdresser from Aberystwyth, had joined the Cardiganshire Battery of the Royal Field Artillery within a week of the start of the war in August 1914 and subsequently volunteered for service overseas a month later.

His battery, as part of the 1/2nd Welsh Brigade, was posted to Bedford to undergo training before deployment to the Western Front.

It was while practising artillery drills in a field off Ampthill Road, Bedford on 26 August 1915 that Gunner Corfield fell from the firing battery wagon on which he was riding.

As he fell from the wagon the wheel of the horse-drawn gun carriage ran over his head.

Gunner Corfield lay unconscious as Captain John Cook of the Royal Army Medical Corps tried in vain to save his life but his skull had been crushed and he died shortly afterwards.

Military historian and WWWMP leader Steve John said: "Robert's death certificate, inquest and service papers all show beyond doubt that he was crushed after falling from a gun carriage during a training exercise.

"Without the benefit of the computerised records we have these days I can appreciate how some casualties from the First World War were omitted from official records compiled after the Armistice."


WWWMP provided the Army with all the necessary evidence to demonstrate that Gunner Corfield was entitled to be commemorated in 2012.

Mr John said: "However, along with several hundred other cases the Army allowed Robert's case to remain unprocessed until we started to mount a campaign."

In August 2013 the Ministry of Defence announced that the National Army Museum would take over responsibility for the investigation and verification of cases.

"The memory of Robert Corfield deserved to be commemorated on the Nation's official Debt of Honour," said a spokesperson for the ministry.

"The coroner at his inquest into his death made clear that he was prepared to fight for his country and had died as nobly as if he had been fighting.

"It shouldn't have taken so long for the country to recognise his sacrifice. His case could not have been clearer cut."

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