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25th March

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gmac101

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Robert Romanis was stationed near Ypres in Belgium when the Kaiser Slacht started but his Division, the 35th received orders on the 22nd of March to reinforce the British line south near the Somme.  The Division was taken the 100 miles or south to Heilly station on trains. Each of the 9 battalions on a separate train.  The trains consisted of 1 carriage for the officers, 17 flat wagons for carts and stores and 40 covered wagons which would either contain Soldiers or Horses.  The 12th Highland Light Infantry (HLI) Roberts Battalion left Proven at around 9pm on train No. 7 and arrived at their destination at about 1 pm the next day. A 16 hour trip.  They were then bussed 10 miles or so to Bray sur Somme where they marched to the village of Maricourt arriving in the early morning  of the 25th and took up position along the D197 north from Maricourt as far as a Brickworks near Bernafay Wood (the brickworks is gone but it’s location is marked by patch of rough ground alongside the road which can be seen on google maps).  The Germans attacked from the east at 7:45am on the 25th and at multiple times during the day using artillery, rifle and machine gun fire.  The attacks finally ceased at 8pm but the 12th HLI had suffered a number of casualties including Robert.  His body was never identified and he is remembered on the Poziere memorial but at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemetery in Maricourt there are over 150 graves of unknown soldiers – one of these may well be the grave of Robert Romanis

Robert Hope served in the Highland Light Infantry as well as Robert Romanis but he was in the 2nd Battalion which was part of the 2nd Division and stationed further North near Baupame. He started the battle in reserve but by the 22nd of March was in the front line just to the south of where Gordon Tait and George Frier were serving.  His unit then began a long retreat to maintain the British line.  On the night of the 24th they were allowed 2 hours sleep in the village of Ligny Thilloy.  They continued to retreat the next day over the old Somme battlefield, the shell holes covered in long grass did not make for easy going.  During the retreat they formed the rearguard and came under enemy fire just North of Le Sars and it likely that this is where Robert was killed, his unit then continued their retreat.  He left a wife in Edinburgh who was paid a war gratuity of £8 10shillings

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