Rank:


Private

Service No(s):


34229 /636059

Regiment:


Princess Charlotte of Wales' (Royal Berkshire) Regiment/ Labour Corps

Unit:

Returned:

Yes

Place of birth:

Occupation:

Small Holder

Date of death:

Cause of death:

Grave or panel reference:

Name of father:

Lewis Benjamin

Name of siblings:

Lilian M, James L, Harold P, Alfred T, Ethel C, Sidney S, Florence R, Leonard J, William Alfred, Hilda Jane Eliza

Name(s) of children:

Died:

No

Date of birth:

15/10/1881

Place of enlistment:

Event:

Age at death:

Cemetery or memorial:

Other memorial:

St. Mellitus Church

Name of mother:

Eliza (Harden)

Name of spouse:

Elizabeth (Brown=maiden name)

Address:

East Moor, Gillingham, Kent, England (1939 Register)
51 Sanderstead Road, South Croydon, Surrey (1958 Wills register)

Biography:

Robert Edwin Playford was born on 15th October 1881 in Orlestone, East Ashford, Kent.  His parents were Lewis Benjamin and Eliza Playford.  They were married on 26th May 1878 in Guestling, Sussex.  Robert was the second oldest child in a family of 11 children.  He is recorded in the 1891 census, aged 9 years old, with 5 of his siblings, living in East Asford, Warehorne, Kent.  His father’s occupation was a farm labourer/worker and, in 1911, Lewis was listed as a waggoner.

To date, no other matching records of Robert have been found in the census search up to 1911.

Robert E Playford served with the Princess Charlotte of Wales’ (Royal Berkshire) Regiment/ Labour Corps.

Private R.E. Playford was entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe” as authorised under Army Order 204 of the 6th July 1916.  The terms of this award were named on a report list dated 17/8/1918.

Robert was transferred to Labour Corps.  The date of this transfer is not known.  The Labour Corps was raised in 1915 and disbanded in 1921, and today their roles are undertaken by the Royal Logistics Corps.  Forces War Records note:

The Corps grew to some 389,900 men (more than 10% of the total size of the Army) by the Armistice. Of this total, around 175,000 were working in the United Kingdom and the rest in the theatres of war. The Corps was manned by officers and other ranks who had been medically rated below the “A1” condition needed for front line service. Many were returned wounded. Labour Corps units were often deployed for work within range of the enemy guns, sometimes for lengthy periods.
 
In the crises of March and April 1918 on the Western Front, Labour Corps Units were used as emergency infantry. It became the 18th -19th Labour Corps in May 1917.
 
The Corps always suffered from its treatment as something of a second class organization: for example, the men who died are commemorated under their original Regiment, with Labour Corps being secondary. Researching men of the Corps was made more difficult by this until the publication of the mammoth ‘Soldiers died in the great war’ collection where the Labour Corps was finally given it’s own section in volume 80.

Private R.E. Playford was awarded the Victory and British War Medal.

Robert married Elizabeth Brown in 1916 in Maidstone, Kent, possibly during a period of  leave from military duty.  In 1939, they lived at East Moor, Gillingham, Kent.  Robert’s occupation in 1939 was a Small Holder.  A small-holding is a piece of agricultural land smaller than a farm.

In the Forces War Records, Private R.E. Playford’s next of kin address was South Croydon.  The Index of Wills and Adminstration records Robert Edwin Playford’s address as 51 Sanderstead Road, South Croydon, Surrey.  He died on 13th February 1958, aged 76 years old.  In the same records page, Elizabeth Brown’s death is recorded.  She died on the same day as her husband “on the way to the General Hospital, Croydon, Surrey.”  She was 78 years old.  On both entries, their legacy is administered to Robert Frank Beadle and Geoffrey Walter Beadle.  Robert Frank Beadle’s address in 1939 was 51 Sanderstead Road, Croydon.  His mother, Ellen Brown, died on 24th August 1953 with the same Croydon address as her place of residence.  Did the Playfords move in after this date?  Geoffrey Walter Beadle lived at 53 Sanderstead Road, Croydon and his mother’s maiden name was Brown.  Is there a connection to Elizabeth’s side of the family that would explain Robert’s military records having the next of kin address as South Croydon?