9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
08/05/1916 (Died of Wounds)
Robert Lyttle was the second son of William and Eliza Lyttle. Robert was born on born 30th September 1891 in Ballyeglish, Moneymore. Robert was a member of Strifehill L.O.L. No. 628 and a member of the Ulster Volunteers. Robert Lyttle enlisted in the 9th Battalion Inniskillings at Finner Camp. On Sunday 8th May 1916, Private Robert Lyttle was severely wounded was taken to the 108th Field Ambulance where he died of his wounds. Glowing tributes were paid to Private Lyttle by both Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo and Captain Cruikshanks, his Battalion Commander.
Robert Lyttle was the second son of William and Eliza Lyttle (nee Hamill/Hammond). Robert was born on born 30th September 1891 in Ballyeglish, Moneymore.
The spelling of the surname alternates throughout between Little and Lyttle. In his Will he spells it as Lyttle.
The 1901 census lists Robert J as age 9 living with the family at house 3 in Ballygruby, Moneymore, Londonderry. Robert was still at school. His father was a farm servant.
Family: William Lyttle, Liza F Lyttle, Isabella Lyttle (born about 1882), Susan Lyttle (born 10th November 1886), Lizzie Lyttle (born 28th January 1888), William Lyttle (born 9th September 1889), Robert Lyttle (born 30th September 1891), Alice Kate Lyttle (born 2nd June 1893), Samuel Lyttle (born 4th June 1896), Mary Lyttle (born about 1899), Sarah Lyttle (born about 1901).
The 1911 census does not list Robert as living with the family at house 13 in Killymoon Demesne, Cookstown Rural, Tyrone. His mother had been widowed. Most of the family was working in local factories and mills.
Robert was a member of Strifehill L.O.L. No. 628 and a member of the Ulster Volunteers.
Robert Lyttle enlisted in the 9th Battalion Inniskillings at Finner Camp, Ballyshannon, County Donegal.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 12th June 1915: Deserters Charged
Samuel Speer and Robert Little, privates in the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, wee on Thursday evening brought before Mr H Alfred Mann, J.P., and charged by Sergeant Hayes, R.I.C., with being deserters. They were remanded to Armagh jail for a week or pending the arrival of an escort from Randalstown.
On Sunday 8th May 1916, on the Western Front, the battalion made a successful raid on the enemy’s trenches and inflicted serious loss. They were then subjected to a heavy bombardment for 2˝ hours, and had considerable casualties, which included Private Little
Private Robert Lyttle was severely wounded was taken to the 108th Field Ambulance where he died of his wounds. He was 22 years old.
The Battalion had been thanked on parade by the Army Corps Commander for the gallantry shown by all ranks.
Glowing tributes were paid to Private Lyttle by both Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo and Captain Cruikshanks, his Battalion Commander.
The Church of Ireland Chaplain in France wrote that he had conducted the service at the funeral of the deceased, who had been buried with an officer, thought to be Lance Sergeant Robert Millar, and a party of comrades attending at the grave.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 20th May 1916: Hot Fighting and Hotter Billet
Corporal Bob Millar, writing to his friends in Oldtown Street, Cookstown, says in a two day visit to the trenches his platoon got it very hot and had some losses which included R Little, Blue Doors, Cookstown, at whose funeral he attended later. They gave as good as they got however, going into the German trenches and bombing them out of their dugouts and killing a good many. It was the hottest time he has had. When they left the trenches and went to billets in the rear, misfortune followed them for the building block took fire and was burned to the ground and all his clothes, razors, pipe, knife, etc., in fact every article except the pants he was wearing at the time were consumed. His losses include articles recently received from home.
In a further letter sent later, Millar says he has also lost a lot of souvenirs that he had to bring home. His clothing losses had been made good however, as he had received a parcel from Mrs John Glasgow with the necessary articles. Referring to the Dublin Rising, he says that it was his reserve battalion that was engaged there. He saw in the Mail some Cookstown people’s opinion of it. If they had been out with him at the previous Sunday night’s engagement he wondered what they would have thought.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 27th May 1916: Private R J Little Coolkeehan
Mrs E J Little, Coolkeehan, Cookstown, has received official intimation that her son, Private R J little, 9th Inniskillings (Ulster Division), has died of wounds received in action on 8th May. Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo, in a letter sending sympathy, said the battalion made a successful raid on the enemy’s trenches on Sunday 8th May and inflicted serious loss. They were subjected to a heavy bombardment for 2˝ hours, and had considerable casualties, which included Private Little, who was fatally wounded. He was a gallant soldier and a good comrade and they mourned his loss. In consequence of their conduct on the occasion, the Battalion had been thanked on parade by the Army Corps Commander for the gallantry shown by all ranks.
Captain Cruikshanks, his Battalion Commander, writes in the same strain. They had lost a fine soldier and a true comrade, who fell gallantly in an action that had won renown for the Battalion. They all respected the deceased, who was ever ready to fulfil his duties, however dangerous. He adds his own and the Battalion’s condolence.
The Church of Ireland Chaplain also writes on date 10th May, that he had conducted the service at the funeral of the deceased, who had been buried from the 108th Field Ambulance, an officer and a party of comrades attending at the grave. He adds that the present sorrow is overshadowed by the love and mercy of God, and that this life is but the beginning, and that we would understand later.
Private Little, who was only in his 23rd year, was a member of Strifehill L.O.L. No. 628, and an enthusiastic member of the U.V.F., and was much respected. Additional sadness attaches to his death, as another brother, William J., of the 1st Inniskillings, was killed in action almost a year previous on the 18th May 1915. The greatest sympathy is felt with the mother, who is a widow, and with his sisters and other relatives.
In a letter dated 10th May 1916, the Church of Ireland Chaplain wrote:
I conducted the funeral service of Private Lyttle who was taken from 108th Field Ambulance. I hope that the present sorrow is overshadowed by the love of God, and that this life is but the beginning.’
Last Will and Testament of Private Robert Lyttle dated 14 January 1916:
In the event of my death, I give to my mother Mrs E J Lyttle, Colkeighan, Cookstown, Co Tyrone all my personal effects and any pay which may be due to me. Private R Lyttle 13935. 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 14 January 1916.
REVERSE: Certified that this will was extracted from the Pay Book of no 9/13935 Private R Lyttle. 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. GHQ 3rd Echelon. Captain C H Rennik. 18 May 1916.
Private Robert Lyttle is buried in Forceville Communal Cemetery in France.
Private Robert Lyttle is commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph and St. Luran’s Church of Ireland Roll of Honour, Derryloran, Cookstown (as Robert Lyttle).
The CWGC record Private Robert Little as the son of William and Eliza Jane Little, of Killymoon Blue Doors, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone.