1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers (British Army)
02/11/1914 (Killed in Action)
He was the second son of the 6th Earl Castle Stewart and Countess Castle Stewart, Stuart Hall, Stewartstown, County Tyrone, and husband of Nancy Stuart (nee Croker) who was the daughter of Captain Croker, of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Nancy was a nurse in France the First World War. Robert and Nancye had no children.
Robert Sheffield Stuart was gazetted to the Royal Scots Fusiliers when he was 20 years old and was well known in Dublin where his regiment was based. Regarded as a splendid horseman, he hunted with the Ward, Meath and Kildare hunts, and played polo, and rode at Fairyhouse and Punchestown. Although at the same time he did not neglect his serious work in which he had passed as a first class interpreter in French and Russian.
His battalion was in South Africa in 1913 and returned to England in March 1914, where it formed part of the first expeditionary force which held back the Germans in their first rush for Paris and the Channel ports. Captain Stuart took part in the retreat from Mons and the Battles of the Marne and the Aisne.
On 2nd November 1914 he led a night attack on an enemy trench at Neuve Chapelle. The party had to retire, but Captain Stuart was not with them. Though hopes were entertained that he might have been captured, as for a long time he had been reported ‘Wounded and Missing in Action’, it was later accepted that he had been killed. He was 28 years old.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 20th November 1914: The Honourable R S Stuart
Lieutenant the Honourable Robert Sheffield Stuart, who was wounded on 2nd November, is a son of the Earl of Castle Stuart, of Stuart Hall, Stewartstown County Tyrone. Born in 1886, he was educated at Charterhouse and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, obtaining his commission on the Royal Scots Fusiliers on 24th January 1906. It is believed that Lieutenant Stuart was brought in by Indian troops, but no definite information has been received of his whereabouts, and the Earl of Castle Stewart is naturally very anxious for further news of his son.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 26th November 1914: Lieutenant Stuart Missing
The Honourable R.S Stuart, son of the Earl of Castlestuart, who is a lieutenant of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, is reported wounded and missing since the night of November 2nd, when he was in action near Lille. It is believed that he was brought in by Indian troops, but no definite news has been received of his whereabouts.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 14th December 1914: Lord Castle Stewart’s Son – Honourable R S Stuart Missing
Captain the Honourable R S Stuart, of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, who was previously listed amongst the wounded, is now officially reported missing, he is a son of the Earl of Castle Stewart, of Stuart Hall, Stewartstown, County Tyrone. He was wounded on 2nd November, and it was thought he was brought in by Indian troops, but no definitive information has since been received as to his whereabouts.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 4th December 1915:
In few parts of the United Kingdom have the aristocracy come to the support of the Empire in the hour of danger better than in Tyrone. Almost all the country families have put every man of military age in the fighting line, and those who are too old, with the women, are doing what they can in different ways, to help win the war, irrespective of their personal comfort. In this noble roll of honour the house of Castlestewart, so closely identified with the Cookstown district, holds a high place. The present Earl, eldest son of the Hon the Rev Andrew Stewart (his mother being a daughter of Viscount Powerscourt) succeeded his cousin early in 1914. He had been in the Indian Civil Service for a number of years, but had retired and spent most of his time in travel and in the study of art. Being 74 years of age (he was 13 years of age when his grandfather the 2nd Earl died), he was of course too old for military service. Having been so long in India, he was accustomed to spend the winter in warmer climates than these islands afford, but he volunteered his assistance to the government and he is daily attendance at the War Office, doing what he can to release younger men for active service.
His eldest son, Andrew John, also a lover of art and a student of present day questions, was annually the guest of the late Earl and Countess of Castlestewart who, with characteristic thoughtfulness, insisted in his becoming acquainted with Stuart Hall and the state to which, in the course of nature, he would succeed. But at the cll of King and country Viscount Stuart, as he had then become, in the prime of manhood, gave up the bright prospect before him, entered the training camp and died in the trenches at Loos, with his face to the enemy.
The second son, Robert Sheffield, was a soldier by profession. Educated at Charterhouse, he entered Sandhurst where he was quickly promoted to be colour sergeant, and in 1906, when in his 20th year, was gazetted to the Royal Scots Fusiliers. The regiment was afterwards quartered in Dublin, and here the young lieutenant, a splendid horseman, hunted with the Ward, Meath and Kildare Hunts, rode at Fairyhouse and Punchestown, and played polo and football for the regiment. When in Dublin he met Constance Evelyn, the youngest daughter of Captain Croker, of the 93rd Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders (who is just now living with the Countess), but they have no family. Though taking part in the lighter side of an officer’s life, he did not neglect serious work, and in 1911 he passed as first class interpreter in French, and the next year went to Russia, becoming a first class interpreter in 1913. He was with the 1st Battalion in South Africa and took part in suppressing the riots in Johannesburg, returning to England in March 1914. When war was declared the Royal Scots Fusiliers were amongst the first in the field, and Captain Stuart took part in the retreat from Mons and fought the battles of the Marne and the Aisne, being mentioned in despatches. In stemming the final attempt of the Germans to get through to Calais on 2nd November 1914, he led a night attack at the head of his company on some German trenches, and it was on the return of the attacking party (who had to retire) that Captain Stuart was reported missing. The Germans had possession of the ground and a search was impossible. It is still hoped that he has been captured, though the name has not been returned by the Germans, and till the war is over, the title to the viscountcy is in abeyance. Colonel Douglas Smyth, in a letter already published wrote:-
‘I could always depend on him for any work her had to carry out, and throughout the war he has behaved splendidly. I feel I have been deprived of a great friend and good officer, and I cannot afford to lose either without feeling it deeply.’
The third son, Arthur, who is 26 years of age, was educated at Charterhouse, where he was distinguished both at study and games, being in the football eleven and obtaining a leaving exhibition. He went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and took his degree with honours in the classical tripos. He completed his education at the Sorbonne, Paris, and accepted a temporary mastership at Rugby where he was when the war broke out. He at once resigned and offered himself to the Public Schools Camp for service, but an attack of illness, consequent of over work at the Sorbonne, compelled him to leave. After a term’s work however, as master at Charterhouse, he again offered himself and joined the 7th Royal Berks Regiment at Reading on Christmas Day 1914, and before going to the front in September, he was appointed brigade machine gun officer. He is now in the Levant with the British columns.
The youngest son, Charles Patrick, was also a student of great promise, but his health gave way and he is an invalid, unable to take his share in the defence of the Empire to which his brothers have devoted their lives.
His mother, whose health has also suffered from the strain, has had to abandon the many forms of Christian work in which she was engaged, both in India and since her residence in England in order to nurse him, and is living in Surrey for his sake. For the same reason she cannot assist in work for the army, with which her own family have been identified for generations.
Her father, Major General Arthur Stevens, was in the Indian Army for many years, and was a fine type of Christian soldier. Three brothers of her mother were in the army, Colonel Charles Sheffield Dickson raised and commanded the German legion in the Crimea, another distinguished himself in the Carlist war and the third general served in India, while their father, Major Richard Dickson, 1st Life Guards, died of wounds in the Peninsular war. A generation further back, General Cox, great grandfather of the Countess of Castlestewart, commanded the Guards.
But although the Countess is unable to assist in war work, her daughter-in-law (who, if her husband is fortunately as prisoner of war, is now Viscountess Stuart), is a Red Cross and V.A.D. nurse, and in spite of her anxiety as to her husband’s fate, she has obtained an appointment on the staff of St Mary’s Hospital, just opened.
His Lordship’s only daughter, Lady Katherine Stuart, was also an active worker in connection with the Princess Mary’s Fund, till laid up with a severe illness from which she is now happily recovering.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 2nd May 1918: County Tyrone Officer’s Fate
Captain the Honourable Robert Sheffield Stuart, Royal Scots Fusiliers, who it is now presumed fell in action on 2nd November 1914, at Neuve Chapelle, was the second son of the Earl and Countess of Castle Stewart, of Stewartstown, County Tyrone. He married in 1909, Nancye, the youngest daughter of the late Captain E Croker, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and step-daughter of the Right Honourable H E Chatterton, Vice-Chancellor of Ireland. Captain Stuart’s elder brother fell at the Battle of Loos in 1915, this Captain the Honourable Arthur Stewart, commanding -- Machine Gun Company, becomes Viscount Stewart.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 11th May 1918:
STUART – Previously reported ‘wounded and missing’, now presumed killed in action, 2nd November 1914 at Neuve Chapelle, Captain The Honourable Robert Sheffield Stuart, 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers, dearly loved second son of the Earl and Countess of Castlestewart, and beloved husband of Nancye Stuart, aged 28 years.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 11th May 1918: Captain R S Stuart
Our Roll of Honour today contains the name of Captain R S Stuart, second son of the Earl of Castlestewart, who has been missing since November 1914. Hopes were entertained that he may be a prisoner of war, but for various reasons it is now believed that he has fallen in defence of his country. The deceased was gazetted to the Royal Scots in his twentieth year, and was well-known in Dublin, where his regiment was quartered ten or twelve years ago. A splendid horseman, he hunted with the Ward, Meath and Kildare Hunts, played polo, and rode at Fairyhouse and Punchestown, and at the same time did not neglect serious work, as he passed as first class interpreter in French and later on in Russian. His battalion was in South Africa in 1913. Getting back to England in March 1914, it formed part of the First Expeditionary Force which held back the Germans in their first rush for Paris and the Channel ports. Captain Stuart took part in the retreat from Mons and the battles at the Marne and the Aisne. On 2nd November he led a night attack on the enemy trench. The party had to retire, but Captain Stuart was not with them. Though hopes were entertained he might have been captured, his death is now accepted. He was married to Miss Croker, daughter of Captain Croker, of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, who is nursing in France and has no family. His elder brother, who volunteered after war was declared, having been killed in a trench at Loos from which he refused to retreat.
The third son, Arthur, succeeds to the title. He is a graduate of Cambridge, taking his degree with honours in the classical tripos. When war was declared he was a temporary master at Rugby, and at once volunteered. An attack of illness, due to overwork when studying at the Sorbonne, Paris, compelled him to leave the Public Schools Camp where he was training, but he again offered himself. And joined the Royal Berks. He was at Salonika as Brigade Machine Gun Officer in 1915, and in 1917 was appointed to the command of a company. He recently got a month’s leave, and has now returned to his duties.
Captain Robert Sheffield Stuart has no known grave and is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial in Richebourg, France.
He is also commemorated on Stewartstown Cenotaph and Donaghendry Church of Ireland Roll of Honour.
Captain Stuart’s wife Nancye remarried in later years to Mr. Charles Elverson, of Julian Island, British Columbia.
By kind permission. Earl Castle Stewart, Stuart Hall, Stewartstown, County Tyrone.