Robert Frank Gifford was born on 10th June 1893. His birth was registered at Dorchester by his parents, George Howard Gifford and Annie Maria Talbot Gifford (nee Gregory).

The 1901 census shows the family living at Lamperts, Sydling St Nicholas.
George H Gifford Head Mar 44 Farmer Dorset, Sydling St Nicholas
Annie Gifford Wife Mar 42   Dorset, Sydling St Nicholas
Frederick Gifford Son Single 15 Carpenter (Journeyman) Dorset, Sydling St Nicholas
Aaron Victor Gifford Son   13 Farmer's Son Dorset, Sydling St Nicholas
Henry Gifford Son   10   Dorset, Sydling St Nicholas
Robert Gifford Son   7   Dorset, Sydling St Nicholas
Bertram Gifford Son   5   Dorset, Sydling St Nicholas
Maud Gifford Daur   2   Dorset, Sydling St Nicholas
Caroline Gifford Mother Widow 80   Suffolk, Framlingham
On 23rd March 1912 Robert and his brother Aaron Victor Gifford left Bristol abroad ‘RMS Royal George’ bound for Canada. They disembarked in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 30th March 1912 and continued their journey to Peterborough, Ontario.

On 26th October 1914 Robert was shown on the payroll of the 57th Regiment, Peterborough Rangers.

On 4th November 1914 Robert Gifford’s attestation papers were completed in Kingston, Ontario. He confirmed that he was 21 years 4 months old, 5’ 4” tall, with a 37” chest, of fair complexion, with grey eyes, brown hair, and a scar on the inside of his right lower leg. His trade was given as ‘Teamster’ and his religion as ‘Church of England’. He informed the authorities that he was serving in 57th Regiment, Canadian Militia and agreed to serve in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force. He was given the service number 59363 (temporary number 523) and assigned to ‘E’ Company which was later reorganised into ‘C’ Company.

His trade ‘Teamster’ [Truck Driver] was with the Canadian General Electric Company. .
  Attestation Papers -  
The 21st Battalion trained in the Kingston, Ontario area throughout the winter of 1914/15.

In the UK, the 1915 Postal Directory and the 1915 Register of Electors shows George GIFFORD, farmer, living at Langford Farm (within the parish of Stratton).

On 6th May 1915 Robert left Montreal, Quebec aboard ‘RMS Metagama’. It arrived in Devonport, Devon on 15th May 1915 and the Battalion travelled on to West Sandling Camp, near Hythe, Kent to continue training.

On 14th September 1915 the 21st Battalion left Folkestone, Kent aboard a ship named ‘St. Seiriol’ and disembarked the following day in Boulogne, France. They travelled on to St. Omer.

On 19th May 1916 Robert Gifford was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal with pay.

In June 1916 the 21st Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Eastern Ontario) Regiment was serving in Belgium.

On 24th June 1916 the 21st Battalion was in the front line trenches near The Bluff, Ypres. Shortly after L/Cpl Gifford arrived at the ‘C’ Company cookhouse a short distance from the front line, a German 5.9 shell burst in the centre of the cookhouse, killing him instantly.

The 21st Battalion War Diary maintained by Captain H.W. Cooper for the 23rd & 24th June 1916 reads;

Robert Frank Gifford was killed in action on 24th June 1916 aged 23 years and was buried in Bedford House Cemetery, Ieper (Ypres), West-Vlaanderen, Belgium in Enclosure 4 I, Plot J, Grave 6.
Chateau Rosendal, a country house in a small wooded park with moats, was known to the Army as Bedford House or Woodcote House. Although it never fell into German hands, the house and the trees were gradually destroyed by shell fire. Bedford House was used by field ambulances and as the headquarters of brigades and other fighting units, and charcoal pits were dug there from October 1917.

The property became covered with small cemeteries. Five enclosures existed at the date of the Armistice. Enclosure number 4, the largest, was used from June 1916 to February 1918, largely by the 47th (London) Division, and after the Armistice it was enlarged when 3,324 graves were brought in from other burial grounds and from the battlefields of the Ypres Salient. Almost two-thirds of the graves are unidentified.
Early Grave Marker
Bedford House Cemetery
Bedford House Cemetery
Bedford House Cemetery – Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Robert Gifford is remembered on the Sydling St Nicholas memorial in St Nicholas Church; in St Mary’s Church, Frampton, and on the War Memorial in Peterborough, Ontario.
War Memorial in St Nicholas Church, Sydling St Nicholas
War Memorial in St Mary’s Church, Frampton
  Peterborough War Memorial, Ontario    
(courtesy of John Sargent) 
  Robert's mother (Annie) and sister are mentioned as being present at the Stratton War Memorial Dedication in 1919.

Annie Gifford died in 1925 and was buried at Stratton on 25th November 1925.
George Gifford died in 1937 and was buried at Stratton on 19th May 1937.
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