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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Able Seaman Robert Burns


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I am hoping somebody can help me find out more about Robert Burns who is commemorated on Beith's War Memorial.

Looking at the UK Royal Navy & Royal Marine War Graves Roll I have discovered the following:

Robert Burns

Rank: Trimmer

Birth Date: 7 Nov 1871, Irvine, Ayrshire

Service: Royal Naval Reserve

Cause of Death: Killed or died by means other than disease, accident, or enemy action.

Number: 2028 S.T. (Dev)

Death Date: 29 Jan 1918

Ship HM Trawler Robert Cloughton

Grave: O.G. 826B Bangor Public cemetery.

N.O.K. Wife Kate, 19, Cross, Beith.

HMS Robert Cloughton was only launched on 18 th December 1917 in Paisley so was this his first posting?

I would really like to find out more about his service history and the likely role of HMS Robert Cloughton.

I'm also curious about his likely cause of death.

Thank you to anyone who can shed some light. This is part of a project to research all the names on our WW1 War memorial

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Hi Julie and welcometo the Forum.

His service record can be downloaded from the National Archives http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=D8559401 for £3.36. Here is a bit of background information on what it contains -it is important to note this part

Please note: each record covers a five-year term of service in the RNR, so there may be more than one record for a person. A reservist will have a different service number for each term.


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ROBERT CLOUGHTON was an Admiralty-built trawler (Admiralty No.3672), employed in the Auxiliary Patrol (minesweeping/anti-submarine). She was based, until 6 April 1918, on HMS VANESSA II, the depot ship at Holyhead.

Cause of death and service details will be on his RNR Record Card - originals at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, copies at Kew.

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Thank you so much - that is very helpful.

I'm curious that it says his death was not caused by disease, accident or enemy action - would a heart attack or similar be considered disease?

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Or fell in and drowned.

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I do apologise. Didn't read hard enough! *blush*

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The cause of death could mean that this was unknown so for example if he was found dead in his bunk but the PM failed to identity the cause (was it an illness or did he accidentally or deliberately ingest something that killed him?) then the entry might be all that was possible. A sort of open verdict. There are some heart and brain conditions that might not show up given the medical knowledge of the day.

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