L' CPL ROBT NIVEN JR K.L.R.
57452 Lance Corporal Robert Niven
18th (Lancashire Hussars) Battalion
The King's Liverpool Regiment
missing presumed dead 21st March 1918
Ham British Cemetery, Muille-Villette
St Machar's Church Memorial, Bridge of Weir
Son of Robert Niven and Elizabeth Waddell
Maxwell Terrace, Bridge of Weir
Robert Niven was born on 11th June 1898 at 37 Underwood Road, Paisley, the second of a family of at least five born to Robert Niven junior, a plasterer from Paisley and Elizabeth Waddell from Edinburgh, who had married in Paisley on 27th May 1898.
In 1901 Robert (25), Lizzie (22), and two of their children Robert (2) and David were living in 4 Barr Street, Paisley. Robert was a plasterer.
By 1911, the Niven family of seven was living in a 2-roomed flat in Co-operative Terrace, off Main Street, Bridge of Weir. Young Robert (12) was at school. Robert, the father, was by then employing others in his plasterer business.
Robert Niven junior volunteered on 28th August 1915 when he was 17 years old and was enlisted into the 3rd Battalion 1st Division of the Cycle Corps, Lowland Division, Regimental No. 1119. His father enlisted on 13th November 1915, and he survived the war.
Private Niven's Medal Index Card does not record when he first joined the theatre of war but he was not awarded the 1914 -15 Star. Nor does his medal card record promotion to Lance Corporal, although a newspaper report from October 1919, when he was finally presumed killed, provides some corroboration of the rank inscribed on the memorial. At some point he was transferred to the 18th Battalion, King's Liverpool Regiment which was attached to the 89th Brigade, 30th Division.
There is some uncertainty about the exact time and location of his death. The Commonwealth War Graves commemoration certificate has his date of death as 9th April 1918. On that day, war diaries for his battalion record one "other ranks" killed by trench mortar fire in the Poelcappelle sector in the Ypres salient in Belgium, but this does not fit with Robert being "missing presumed dead", which is usually associated with mass fatalaties incurred in a day of intense battle after which bodies could not be recovered.
He is commemorated as Private R Niven in the Ham British Cemetery, about 20 km south-west of St Quentin. The town of Ham was in German hands from 23rd March 1918 during their push towards Amiens. Robert's original grave reference is given as the Croix-Molignaux German Cemetery, 10km north-west of Ham. His Soldier's Will has a death date of 21st March 1918, the first day of Operation Michael, the beginning of the German Spring Offensive, the Kaiserslacht. These earlier dates, when the division was in the vicinity before being relocated to Ypres, are consistent with Robert being commemorated in the Ham cemetery, around 100 miles south of where his battalion was fighting in Ypres on the day the memorial records at CWGC and SNWM believe him to have died. The report in the Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette on 1 October 1919 also refers to him being posted missing 21-28 March 1918.
|Bridge of Weir
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Scottish National War Memorial
- Robert Niven birth certificate, 11th June 1898. Regd Paisley, Renfrew 27th June 1898.
- 1901 UK Census: Parish: Paisley; ED:25; Page:30; Line:19; Roll: CSSCT1901_205.
- 1911 UK Census: Parish: Kilbarchan; Ward: Bridge of Weir. page 7, lines 30-35; 559/0B 002/00 007; page 8, line 1; 559/0B 002/00 008.
- Robert Niven Soldier's Will. scotlandspeople
- Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette
- 28th August 1915: Listed as having taken Oath of allegiance to King and Country. 3 - 1st Division Cycle Corps. Robert Niven jnr., Co-operative Terrace;
- 13th November 1915: Robert Niven snr. is the latest to join the Colours. He is well known in the Village as a contracting plasterer, and his only eligible son, Robert, is in a unit in the Cycle Corps Lowland Division.
- 1st October 1919: Reported missing on March 21-28, 1918, now presumed killed, Lance Corporal R. Niven (57452) 18th King's Liverpool, eldest son of R.E.Niven, Maxwell Terrace, Bridge of Weir.
- Army Diary WO 95/2330:
- XVIII Corps Res., AUBIGNY.
20th March 1918. Coys Training.
- 21st March 1918. 4.40 am. Enemy attacked. 4.55 am. Order Man Battle Stations received.
Mar. 21st/30th - See "Narrative of Operations" attached.
- 1. OPERATIONS IN THE BATTLE ZONE. THURSDAY MARCH 21st. At 4.50 am the order "MAN BATTLE STATIONS" was received. Companies & Transport at once fell in on Alarm Fork and the Battalion with Echelon "A" of Transport, marched to
VAUX, via FORESTE and GERMAINE. The morning was very misty and the Battalion arrived at STEENWOOD. F7a without interference from aircraft or shellfire. The Battalion halted in F7a. Strength of Battalion: Officers 19 O.R. 513.
Battle HQ was established at F.7.a.8.9. close to Battle HQ of 90th Infantry Brigade and billeting party was Lieutenant VAUX.
They reported on their return that the village was clear of troops and they then guided Companies and Transport to huts and standings lately occupied by the 17th Bn Manchester Regt.
Battn HQ was established about F.2.c.2.2. with telephone communications to 90th Infy Bde.
About 11.30 am a message was received from the 90th Infy Brigade to the effect that the enemy had penetrated the forward zone and that the Redoubt Barrage had been put down by the artillery between MANCHESTER HILL and L'EPINE de DALLON, which positions were still holding out.
It was decided to move out of VAUX aboput 11.45 am as the enemy had commenced to shell the village. Companies and Transport re-occupied the positions they had previously taken up in F.7.a. and Battn HQ moved back to F.7.a.8.9.
About 2 pm it was reported that the enemy had penetrated the BATTLE ZONE about ROUPY amd it was decided to dig-in and defend the present positions.
A line of trenches was dug from STEEN WOOD, at F.7.b.1.5. to F.1.d.3.1. with a defensive flank, covering VAUX, running from F.1.d.3.1. to F.1.d.1.5.
Companies were disposed as follows:- Right No.1; Left No. 3; Defensive Flank No. 2; In Reserve No. 4 in Sunken Road below STEEN WOOD.
Hostile aeroplane reconnoitred the position about 7 pm, flying low and firing on the troops.
Shortly afterwards VAUX was heavily shelled & some posts of No 2 Coy on the left were withdrawn to the Sunken Road.
Close touch was kept eith the situation in the BATTLE ZONE, through the HQ of the 90th INfy Bde, throughout the night.
The enemy was reported to be in possession of SAVY but had not succeeded in penetrating the defences of ETREILLERS, held by the 2nd Bn. Royal Scots Fusiliers.
About 10 pm all transport was sent back to BEAUVOIS to orders of G.O.C. 89th Infy Brigade, who gave further orders there for rearward moves.
Rations were received about midnight.
- FRIDAY MARCH 22nd: The G.O.C. 90th Infy Bde called on the Battalion for carrying parties for the 2nd Bn. Bedfordshire Regt, holding the D.NORTH Sector of the BATTLE ZONE, and 50 men of No. 4 Coy under
2nd Lieut J.A. FISHER were despatched to STEVENS REDOUBT, carrying S.A.R. and grenades.
This party left about 9 am and was retained at the Redoubt to assist in its defence.
About 10 am the G.O.C. 90th Infy Bde reported that the enemy had succeeded in penetrating the left of the forward system in D.NORTH Sector, and he called for 2 Comapnies to counter-attack under the direction of the O/C 2nd Battn Bedfordshire Regt.
CAPT R.S. VILLAR left immediately for STEVENS REDOUBT to confer with the O/C 2nd Bn Bedfordshire Regt leaving the adjutant liaison with the 90th Infy Bde and central reserves.
About 10.30 am Nos 2 & 3 Companies, under Captain J. LAWSON and CAPT F.M. SHEARD M.C. respectively moved along the valley of the GERMAINE RIVER to STEVENS REDOUBT.
On their arrival there the situation in the forward system of D.NORTH was so serious that it was decided to abandon the proposed counter-attack and these Companies were retained for the defence of the Redoubt.
They remained there fighting with the 2nd Bn Bedfordshire Regt until the garrison withdrew in the afternoon.
About 8 am the G.O.C. 90th Infy Brigade called on the Battalion for a reinforcement for the 2nd Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers holding the village of ETREILLERS, and No. 1 Coy under CAPT J.S. EDWARDS, was despatched immediately.
This Company fought under the command of the O/C 2nd Battn Royal Scots Fusiliers until the withdrawal from the BATTLE ZONE later in the afternoon.
- Estimated Casualties in Other Ranks on 3rd April 1918: Killed 14; Wounded 76; Missing 280.
- 7th April 1918. Night quiet. Lt Col G S Clayton re-joined and assumed command.
- 8th April 1918: Day quiet. Visibility poor.
- 9th April 1918: Enemy shelled forward posts with trench mortars and guns for about an hour. Wire put out at night around posts. Visibility bad during the day and little activity. Casualties 1 killed and 1 other ranks wounded.
- Kilbarchan Cemetery Monumental Inscription:
o In loving memory of my dear husband ROBERT NIVEN died 19th May 1936 aged 59 years our son ROBERT killed in action in France 1918 aged 20 years. ELIZABETH WADDELL wife of above ROBERT NIVEN died 18th Oct. 1962 aged 84 years.
- Medals: Victory, British War.
TO CITE THIS PAGE: MLA style: "Bridge of Weir Memorial". Date of viewing. http://www.bridgeofweirmemorial.co.uk/profile-niven.html