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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916

CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916

Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916

Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916

Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Pte 16593 Robert Harley McElnea

  • Age: 30
  • From: Bootle
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 18th Btn
  • D.O.W Sunday 23rd September 1917
  • Commemorated at: Outtersteene Cc Ext, Bailleul
    Panel Ref: I.B.11
Robert Harley McElnea was born at Bootle in 1887 the youngest son of John McElnea and hsi wife Esther Sarah (nee Lennie). His birth was registered as Robert McElnea, no middle name, in the September quarter of  1887. Both his parents were born in Ireland, his father in Monaghan and his mother in Cork.  They married in 1869 and had moved to Liverpool by 1871 where their thirteen children were born (except for Sarah, who was born in Cork in 1881), at least four of whom died young.  Robert was the eleventh of the thirteen, and the youngest surviving son. The family was Presbyterian. He had four sisters; Margaret, Jessie, Sarah and Celia and three brothers Jerome, John and William.

In 1881 and 1891 his father is shown as a grocer. The 1891 Census shows the family were living at Gonville Road, Bootle. 

The 1901 Census shows that his parents are living at 177 Bedford Road, with six children (the surname is transcribed as McElman). His father is 63, a grocer, his mother is 53, Robert is 13.
By the time of the 1911 Census the family, transcribed as McEtnea, are living at 20, Oriel Road, Bootle. His father, 73, is now a missionary at the Liverpool City Mission (undenominational), and his mother is 63.  Eight of their thirteen children are still living, six of whom are living at home.  Margaret, 39, Jessie, 33, and Cecelia, 20, have no occupation.  Sarah, 28, is a draper’s assistant.  William is 25, a timber clerk, and Robert, 23, is a clerk in the public library.  

Robert was educated at Bedford Road school and Bootle Secondary school.

Prior to the outbreak of the war he had been employed by Messrs. Lamb Bros and previously for some years had been on the Borough Library staff. 

Robert enlisted at St George's Hall in Liverpool on 01st September 1914 as Private 16593 joining the 18th Battalion of The King's Liverpool Regiment. His papers show his age on enlistinment to be 27 years and 3 months. He is described as 5" 7, weighing 130 lbs. He is of fresh complexion with dark grey eyes and brown hair. He enlisted alogside his brother William, Private 16594, in the same battalion.

From the 23rd September 1914 he was billeted at Hooton Park Race Course and remained there until 03rd December 1914 when they moved into the hutted accommodation at Lord Derby’s estate at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 18th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. He arrived in France on 7th November 1915.

His mother died in 1915, aged 67.

His service record shows that on 28th November 1916 Robert was awarded one good conduct badge on completion of two years service. Robert was badly wounded on 22nd September 1917 with wounds to his shoulder, back thigh, buttocks and right arm. He died of those wounds the next day 23rd September 1917 at the Casualty Clearing Station. 

Robert's death was reported in the Liverpool Echo on 3rd October 1917:

“September 23, at the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station, France, from wounds received in action, Private Robert H. McElnea, K.L.R., the dearly-loved and youngest son of John and the late Esther McElnea, 20, Oriel Road.”

A report on his death also appeared in the Bootle Times dated 26th October 1917:



Private R.H. McEnea, K.L.R., youngest son of Mr. and the late Mrs. John McElnea, 20, Oriel-road, Bootle, was severely wounded in action on September 22 and died the following day at a casualty clearing station in France.

His death is deplored by the many friends that a lovable, generous, and warm-hearted disposition had gained for him. He was an "old boy" of Bedford-road Council school and of Bootle Secondary School, from whence he joined the staff of the Bootle Library, remaining there for some years. At the outbreak of war he was an esteemed member of the staff of Messrs. Lamb Brothers timber merchants. He joined September, 1914, the 2nd Liverpool Pals (with his brother, to whom he was very deeply attached). He went to France on November 1st, 1915, and had only obtained his first leave two months ago. He is buried at a military cemetery in France.

His personal effects were returned to the family in February 1918 and included letters, photographs, a reliigious book, steel mirror, wallet, pocket lamp and artificial dentures. His medals were sent to his father at 20 Oriel Road, Bootle in July 1919.

Robert now rests at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Ballieul where his headstone bears the poignant epitaph:


Robert is also commemorated on the following Memorials:

Bedford Road school

Bootle Secondary school

Bootle Civic Memorial

Trinity Presbyterian Church, Bootle.

Probate of his estate was obtained at Liverpool on the 9th February 1918 by John McElnea, city missionary . His effects were valued at £116, 7s 8d.
His brother William survived the war.
His father died in 1921, at the age of 82.