Robert was born on 3 March 1899 in Saxlingham Nethergate. His parents George and Elizabeth Funnell ( nee Back) ran the local bakery. His father was both a baker and a corn dealer. Robert was baptised in the local church on 7 May 1899. He was the third of their nine children.
Alfred born 22 July 1892
Lilian born 1896
Ethel born 1900
George born 1902
Arthur born 1904
Evelyn born 1905
Ida born 1908
Kate born 1910
Robert attended the local school along with his siblings. On leaving school he worked in the family business as a baker.
He was conscripted on 7 March 1917 aged 18 years and 4 days. It is likely that his family did not want him to join as his elder brother, Alfred had been killed on 4 September 1916 in the Battle of the Somme. (For more details see the entry for Alfred Funnell, under Men who died in First World War.)
Robert was 5 feet 7 inches tall with a 36 inch chest. He had a small scar in the middle of his forehead. As he was a baker when asked as to his preference of regiment he requested being in the Army Service Corps. He was however sent on 30 April 1917 to the Tank Training Corps. He was later transferred to 26th Battalion Tank Corps.
He never served abroad and at the end of the war did not receive any service medals.
He served in the army for 3 years and 62 days and was discharged on 23 January 1919.
He returned to live in Saxlingham Nethergate and worked as a baker. He did not marry. In his leisure time he did bell ringing.
He died on 24 April 1935 aged 36 years old. Probate records show that he left £185 15s 7d.
Family stories say that he died from heart strain caused by working on the tanks. It is not known if this is true. When he died the local bell ringers sent a wreath to the funeral.
Bell ringing documents in the ringing chamber of St. Mary’s Church, Saxlingham Nethergate
England & Wales, Birth, marriage, death index 1837-2005
UK Census Records
Norfolk Electoral Rolls-Southern Division Saxlingham Nethergate and Thorpe, (Absent Voters Lists 1918-1920)
British Army Service Records
Norfolk, Church of England Diocesan Baptismal Records, Saxlingham Nethergate.
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar. 1858-1995
Saxlingham Church School Log Book, Norfolk Record Office, Norwich
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