Robert Vinter

(1896-1916) – Much-memorialised youth

Robert was a doctor’s son and Sunday school teacher in Torpoint. He was a Classical Scholar at Oxford and commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment. Awarded the Military Cross in 1915, he died at the Somme in 1916. Robert’s grieving family commemorated him in many Torpoint locations, including The Mill playing field.

Credit: Torpoint Archives

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Robert Bagster Vinter was born at Udal Garth, Torpoint and baptised at St James Church on May 26th 1896.  He was the elder son of Dr Sydney Garrett Vinter and Frances Vinter née Toms.  Educated at Garfield School, Plymouth and then at Sherborne, he was an exceptionally bright student and gained a scholarship.  Later he was awarded a gold medal for Classics and was a scholar elect for Keeble College, Oxford when he enlisted in early 1915.

On December 3rd 1915 he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant and joined the Worcestershire Regiment subsequently being posted to France.  On April 29th 1915 he led his men in an attack at Vimy Ridge where he was wounded and repatriated.  His ‘Conspicuous Gallantry’ generated a recommendation for a Military Cross which was duly awarded in June 1916 and reported in the London Gazette on July 27th.

While recuperating in Torpoint he resumed his Sunday school teaching at St James’ Church until returning to duty on September 9th.

On October 30th the Worcestershire Regiment relieved the 5th Scottish Rifles.  Conditions were so muddy that this exchange took until 2 am.  Robert and another officer were fatally wounded.  Robert died the following day and is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial.

At St James’ Church,Torpoint, two chairs are dedicated to his memory – a cathedra (bishop’s chair) and a sedile (celebrant’s chair).  In the early 1920s, at the instigation of his father, an area known as ‘The Mill’ in Torpoint was grassed over and designated for recreation for the ‘Youth of Torpoint’ in memory of Robert.  The memorial stone became weathered and overgrown but on October 31st 2011 the original granite block was moved to a more prominent location and a new plaque was mounted thanks to Torpoint Town Council, Torpoint Athletics Club and the Torpoint Branch of the Royal British Legion.

Key words: casualty

Credit: Torpoint Archives