AITKEN, Robert Lyal
(Service number 8/2787)
|First Rank||Sergeant||Last Rank||Sergeant|
|Date||22 April 1889||Place of Birth||Totara Valley, Pleasant Point (Timaru)|
|Address at Enlistment||35 Jackson Street, St Kilda, Dunedin|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs M. M. AITKEN (wife), 35 Jackson Street, St Kilda, Dunedin|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||6th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Otao Infantry Battalion|
|Date||14 August 1915|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Otago Infantry Battalion|
|Campaigns||Western European (Somme)|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||30 September 1916||Age||27 years|
|Place of Death||France|
|Cause||Died of wounds|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France|
|Memorial Reference||I. E. 9|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Robert Lyal Aitken was born on 22 April 1889 at Totara Valley, Pleasant Point, the third son of William and Jane Turnbull (née Oliver) Aitken. His father had arrived at Port Chalmers in 1859 by the Strathallan. After some time in North Otago he took up contracting work in the Fairlie district in the early 1880s. So it was that Robert was born at Totara Valley. Robert was educated at Outram and Oamaru schools. He was very involved in sports, excelling especially harriers, and also active in military affairs, being a sergeant in the Dunedin Cycling Corps. Robert married Margaret May Annie Groves in 1913.
Robert, a draper, and Margaret were residing in St Kilda, Dunedin when he enlisted. Sergeant R. L. Aitken embarked at Wellington per the “Willochra” on 14 August 1915, destined for Suez, Egypt. Some days out from Wellington, Sergeant R. L. Aitken, of St Kilda, threw a bottle overboard containing a message. Picked up on the West Coast, the message was forwarded to his relatives.
Robert Lyal Aitken was wounded in the Battle of the Somme and succumbed to his wounds on 30 September 1916. He was buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France. His younger brother, John Alexander Aitken, who has embarked in May 1916, was also wounded in France and died of his wounds on 8 October 1916 at Birmingham, England, where he was buried. Their oldest brother, William James Aitken, embarked with the 19th Reinforcements in November 1916. “In proud and loving memory of my brothers’ was William’s notice in the Timaru Herald of 1 October 1919.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [30 July 2021]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [30 July 2021]; School Admission record (Dunedin Branch NZSG) [30 July 2021]; Evening Star, 17 January 1916, 12 October 1916, 7 December 1925, Otago Daily Times, 13 October 1916, 8 December 1925, Timaru Herald, 1 October 1919 (Papers Past) [31 July 2021]
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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