Young sailor honoured ... 100 years after his death

Relatives of WWI sailor Bob Weaver with the Rev Nick Flint and the new headstone supplied by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Relatives of WWI sailor Bob Weaver with the Rev Nick Flint and the new headstone supplied by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

A young sailor who died during the First World War has been honoured at a special ceremony in Rusper - nearly 100 years after his death.

Leading seaman Robert Norris Weaver - known as Bob - died at his home in Horsham aged 22 on August 10 1918 from tuberculous, after being injured on active duty and developing dysentery. He was discharged from the Navy on health grounds in January 1917.

But on Saturday Bob was finally honoured with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone at St Mary Magdalene Church in Rusper.

Bob’s family members attended a special service which inluded a reading from Bob’s letters and prayers by his great niece Penny Hoskyn, followed by the Last Post, a minute’s silence, the Reveille and a blessing.

Bob was the youngest of seven children born to Frederick and Emma Weaver.

On September 3 1914, Bob, who worked as a joiner and metal worker at the time, signed up to join the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

He started his training in Bellshanger Camp but by the November, he had moved on to the Royal Naval Barracks in Portsmouth which he described in a letter home as ‘simply spiffing.’

In 1914, Bob wrote that he hoped to be home for Christmas before being sent to the front at the end of January 1915.

Bob was attached to Nelson Battalion, then later to Drake Battalion as a Lewis Gunner. His first posting abroad was Port Said, Egypt.

When Bob died, his death was never registered with the the Commmonwealth War Graves Commission, and therefore he never received a war graves’ headstone or was mentioned on the Roll of Honour.

War Graves Commision spokesman Les Kibble, said: “At the time of Bob’s death, the CWGC were not informed and therefore did not have the opportunity to give him a Commission headstone.”

Penny Hoskyn said all Bob’s family were grateful for the work the War Graves Commission had undertaken and for the support of the Rev Nick Flint and Rusper villagers. Bob’s name has also been added to Rusper’s war memorial.