Robert Devon IV

Memorial - Cameronians (Royal Scottish Rifles), 6th Battalion

My Maternal 2nd Great-Uncle

Commonwealth War Grave - Sergeant Robert Devon, (1880-1915)

Robert Devon IV was born in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland, on January 18, 1880 to Robert (Devine) Devon III (week #13) and Charlotte Whiteside. He was the fourth child, but first son born into the family. His older sister, Catherine Devon (week #11) later became my maternal great-grandmother.

Very little is known about Robert's childhood; he appears with his family in the Scottish Census every 10 years from 1881-1901 living in Motherwell; his father worked for the local railway.

On Januray 2, 1905 at almost 25 years of age, Robert married Caroline Hyde Swift, also from Motherwell.  Between 1907 and 1914, they had three sons, Robert (aka Roddy), Edward (aka Eddy) and John (aka Jack).  The census (1901 & 1911) and the marriage certificate (1905) list Robert's occupation as a Bridge Slater.

Early in World War I, Robert enlisted in the Cameronians - Scottish Rifles, 6th Battalion; by 1915 he was a Sergeant and was sent to the front lines of battle in France and Flanders.  Sadly, at the young age of 35, Robert was killed in action on June 17, 1915, 99 years ago this past week.  He left behind a young widow and three small sons aged 8, 4, and 1 year.   Robert Devon is buried in a war grave at Lillers Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

from the www.cwgc:

Lillers is a small town about 15 kilometres west-north-west of Bethune. The Communal Cemetery and Extension lie to the north of the town. Within the Communal Cemetery the Commonwealth war graves are situated on the right hand side half way up the cemetery central path, and the Extension is at the far right end of the Communal Cemetery. Both cemeteries are signposted.

Lillers was used for billets and headquarter offices from the autumn of 1914 to April 1918. At that time it was a hospital centre with the 6th, 9th, 18th, 32nd, 49th and 58th Casualty Clearing Stations in the town at one time or another. These units buried their dead on the right of the central path of the communal cemetery, working back from Plot I. In April 1918, the Germans advanced as far as Robecq; Lillers came under shell-fire, and the units holding this front continued to bury beyond the cemetery boundary, in the extension. The Communal Cemetery contains 894 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 67 of which are unidentified.

History from:

Lillers Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France - Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) during World War 1

 (Scottish Rifles)

Since 1815 the balance of power in Europe had been maintained by a series of treaties. In 1888 Wilhelm II was crowned ‘German Emperor and King of Prussia’ and moved from a policy of maintaining the status quo to a more aggressive position. He did not renew a treaty with Russia, aligned Germany with the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and started to build a Navy rivalling that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbours, who quickly forged new treaties and alliances in the event of war. On 28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist group Young Bosnia who wanted pan-Serbian independence. Franz Joseph's the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (with the backing of Germany) responded aggressively, presenting Serbia with an intentionally unacceptable ultimatum, to provoke Serbia into war. Serbia agreed to 8 of the 10 terms and on the 28th July 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, producing a cascade effect across Europe. Russia bound by treaty to Serbia declared war with Austro-Hungary, Germany declared war with Russia and France declared war with Germany. Germany’s army crossed into neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris, forcing Britain to declare war with Germany (due to the Treaty of London (1839) whereby Britain agreed to defend Belgium in the event of invasion).

By the 4th August 1914 Britain and much of Europe were pulled into a war which would last 1,566 days, cost 8,528,831 lives and 28,938,073 casualties or missing on both sides.

The Regiment (Cameronians) raise a total of 27 battalions during the First World War, received 27 battle honours and was awarded 7 Victoria Crosses during the course of the war.

War Medals: It is likely that Robert Devon received the following war medals:

1914/15 Star; British War Medal and the Victory Medal


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Kenneth Swift | Reply 01.06.2016 10.05

I am related on the Swift side , have an interest in his history , wondering if you have any other information about him or know any other relatives who have

Bruce MacDonald | Reply 23.08.2015 16.36

Hi Karen, my maternal grandmother Susan Carrie (nee Devon) would be a sister to Robert & Catherine. As well as the photo of Caroline I also have 3 sons as adult

Bruce MacDonald | Reply 03.08.2015 15.31

Hi Karen, I have a photo of great aunt Caroline visiting the grave! My mother was born 24 Apr 1916 and her middle name was Lilliers after the cemetery.

Karen 23.08.2015 14.27

Hi Bruce - sorry it's been awhile since I was on my blog. Good to hear from you - are you on Ancestry? How are you related to Caroline and Robert? Karen

Muggs | Reply 22.06.2014 22.39

What a great history lesson.I didn't know much about the First World War. Or my great Uncle.

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09.10 | 13:33

Hello Peter - please email me at

23.08 | 15:28

Hi Karen, If you are still maintaining this page, please drop me a line. William and Mary were my great, great, grandparents. Best Regards,

29.08 | 18:46

John. Can you email me at - then we can connect directly. ..

16.08 | 11:58

Hi Karen, if you are interested, please visit my facebook page
regards john crome.

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