A Soldier At Rest, Hythe, Kent

Memorial to Robert Aubrey Hildyard ©Rachael Hale 2013
Memorial to Robert Aubrey Hildyard ©Rachael Hale 2013

This soldier looks so peaceful doesn’t he? As if he is just taking a nap after a long journey but the reality is rather more poignant.  His name is Robert Aubrey Hildyard and this stained glass window in St Leonards Church, Hythe was commissioned as a tribute to him.

Robert Hildyard was a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, Royal Lancaster Regiment and he died on Wednesday 20 December 1916 at the age of 19.

According to the wonderful research carried out by the residents of Saltwood parish, which lies just north of Hythe, and the efforts of the Kent War Memorial Transcription Project, I can tell you that he was the only son of Major Harry Robert Hildyard and his wife Edith.  Having been educated locally, Robert went on to Malvern College and the  Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst before serving in the British Expeditionary Force. 

Acting as his battalion’s Signalling Officer, he had returned from leave only the day before his death and was sheltering in a dug out with Second Lieutenant Godfrey James Wilding of Southampton Row, London when they were killed by a shell.

He’s buried at the Peronne Road Cemetry, Maricourt, on the Somme and I hope he lies as peacefully as his monument suggests.

*Many thanks to the members of the Saltwood Residents War Memorial Project and the Kent War Memorial Transcription Project – http://www.kentfallen.com for compiling the research used for this post.

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