Week 16 – Storms

The prompt for week 16 is Storms. I don’t know of any ancestors who may have been affected by a natural disaster, so I have decided to write about a family that weathered some personal storms – my 4th great uncle Robert Whittle and his wife Sarah.

Robert Whittle was born about 1859 in Halliwell, Lancashire, England. He was the younger brother of my 3rd great grandmother Anne. You can read about her, here. Robert married Sarah Ann Johnson in the last quarter of 1882. The following year they welcomed their first child, and another 5 children followed within the next 15 years.

Robert’s niece, Annie, came to live with them between 1889-1891. I don’t know that Annie was a ‘storm’, but there must’ve been a certain amount of upheaval in their lives. I’m sure Annie was a big help to Sarah – helping with the children and probably chores, too.

Their youngest son, William died in March of 1889. He had just turned a year old. I imagine this was the first major storm that the couple weathered.

The family was living in Egerton, Bolton, Lancashire, when World War I broke out. Their son Robert was just 18, living at home, and soon enlisted. The oldest son, Frank, was in New Brunswick, Canada and enlisted there 29 June 1915.

Both men were stationed in France. How the family must have worried! Robert was killed in action on 05 December 1915. He is buried in the Browns Road Military Cemetery in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. The cemetery has 1,071 casualty burials, with 407 of those brave soldiers unidentified. Robert’s grave is marked with an engraved stone.

On 06 May 1917, Frank was killed in action. He was 31. Frank was buried in La Chaudiere Military Cemetery, also in Nord-de-Calais. This cemetery contains the graves of 907 servicemen, 314 of whom are unidentified.


In 1921, a memorial was erected in Bolton, honoring the men from that town who were lost in the First World War. In later years, casualties from WWII and the Falklands Conflict were added. Robert and Sarah died in 1930 and 1931, respectively. I’m glad they were still living to see their sons memorialized with this monument.

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