ASTON Robert Geoffry
Regiment : Warwickshire Yeomanry
Service number : 1949
Conflict : WW1
Date of death : 11th April 1915 aged 22
Place of death : At sea
Buried : Commemorated on Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton, Hampshire, England.
Birthplace : Church Lench, Evesham, resident Evesham, enlisted Warwick
Relatives : Son of Enoch James and Marion Ada Aston, of Church Lench, Evesham, Worcestershire
Memorial : Church Lench All Saints Church
Also appears on : Worcester Cathedral Cloister Widows Bell Ringer.
Credits : Additional information researched and transcribed by Alan Stephens. Cathedral Roll of Honour books researched by Sandra Taylor.
Additional information on the memorial: 1 War. Yeo.
Appears in the Worcester/Worcestershire Roll of Honour Book for army casualties located in Worcester Cathedral under Church Lench casualties.
Robert Geoffrey Aston was born in 1893, the son of Enoch and Marion Aston. His father was a farmer and baker but Robert is described on the 1911 census as an apprentice carpenter. With the outbreak of war he joined the Warwickshire Yeomanry. The 1st/1st Warwickshire Yeomanry was ordered to sail to the Middle East at the beginning of 1915 and embarked on the horse transport ship “Wayfarer” at Avonmouth. The ship was about 60 miles North-West of the Scilly Isles when it was torpedoed at 15.30hrs on Sunday 11th April 1915. The ship was struck on the port side with the engine room and boiler room flooded. Most of those on board were able to take to the lifeboats, however one boat capsized drowning three men. An hour later those in the lifeboats were transferred to the steamer S.S. Franfield. A few hours later with the “Wayfarer” still afloat Major Richardson, commander of the Yeomanry and Captain Cownie of the “Wayfarer” went back on board. They were able to save the life of a Private who had been left behind and had almost drowned in the hay hold. A nephew of Robert Aston has told me that the family had understood that Robert had been trampled to death by the horses and this is in line with contemporary accounts that Major Richardson and Captain Cownie found the body of another Private in the hay hold. Most of the Yeomanry were transferred to H.M.T. Newlyn and taken to Falmouth. However two officers and fifty-three men stayed on board as the “Wayfarer” was towed to Queenstown in Ireland where they disembarked 760 animals, only three horses had been lost, one of pneumonia and two of accidental causes.
Robert Aston’s nephew (also Robert Aston) has told me that he believed his uncle was buried in Ireland but I can find no record of this.
Footnote: The boat that sank the Wayfarer was U32 captained by Edgar von Spiegel Von Und Zu Peckelshein. On April 30th 1917 Peckelsheim engaged a Q-ship in a surface action in the English Channel and was captured. He spent the rest of the war as a POW. He died in 1965.