Samuel Robert Collier (Bob)
6th Royal Berkshire Regiment
Samuel Robert Collier known as Bob and commemorated as such on his parents headstone was 23 years old when he was first reported in the Chronicle of 4 August 1916, missing believed killed. He was the only son of Mr and Mrs S. George Collier, of 198, Tilehurst Road, Reading.
He was educated at Marlborough House, Reading, and Bath College. On leaving college he entered Messrs. S. and E. Collier’s Brick and Pottery Works, of which his father was a director. While at Bath college he was in the Cadet Corps for three years and on leaving became Scout Master of the King’s Road Boy Scouts for four years.
At the outbreak of war he entered the Berkshire Yeomanry, but later received a commission in the 9th Berkshire Regiment, quartered at Wool. For four months he acted as transport officer for the regiment, and gave it up to take his examinations at Salisbury Plain, and on June 16 1916 he left for France to join a service battalion of the Berkshires, acting as transport officer till July 15, when he took the post of platoon commander, when the usual transport officer returned from hospital. He went into action on July 17 in Delville Wood on the Somme and was not seen after that date.
His Captain N. B. Hudson wrote to his parents. “At about 3.30pm I saw your boy lead off his platoon against the enemy in the wood, some of his platoon came back, but I can get no information from them, save that one man told me ( I am afraid this all seems very cruel; but I think you would like me to say all I can) that he had seen an officer’s body lying in the wood, wearing riding breeches and stocking putties, and these I know were the clothes your boy was wearing. There is only one piece of hope that I think it is right to offer you, and that is no one saw him killed, but in a wood one sees very little. We have come back 30 miles from the scene of the action now. From dawn on the 17 until 3.30 p.m. your boy was with me, and showed great coolness under very trying conditions. At 3.30 p.m. he led his platoon through the wood on the right of the company, while I took the left. I did not see him anymore. All I can hope is that you have heard something I have not. This I can say, that although your boy had only been in my company for two days, I saw in him during the action a fearless and courageous man, whom I felt I could trust.”
Delville Wood was referred to by the troops as Devils Wood. Bob Collier’s body was never found and his name is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing Pier and Face 11D