First World War Roll of Honour

Robert was born in August 1891, the son of Dr Thomas and Mrs Clara Eminson of Gonerby House, Scotter, Gainsborough. He was educated at Epsom before coming up to Downing in 1909. He played in the Freshmen’s Hockey match and was also a prominent member of the College’s Rugby team (photographed above, back row, second right). He passed Part I of the Natural Sciences Tripos and in his third year took the Diploma in Agriculture to complete his degree. After leaving, he was appointed as an assistant entomologist for the British South Africa Company and, in January 1913, was sent to Northern Rhodesia to research the tsetse fly.

Returning to England shortly after the outbreak of war to volunteer for military service, he entered the Cambridge University School of Instruction for Officers and was gazette to the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in June 1915, proceeding to the front in October. In early 1916 he was attached to the Royal Machine Gun Corps and ‘gained commendation for efficiency on several occasions, especially on the night of 5-6 April [in Loos Crassier], when the Germans had exploded a mine, and he prevented them from gaining the crater’ (The Griffin, Michaelmas 1916).

In the early hours of 20 July, the 2nd Battalion attacked the German trenches near Bezantin-le-Petit Wood. 2nd Lieut. Eminson was killed while making a third attempt to bring in a wounded man. (According to a letter written to his father by a fellow soldier, Eminson’s bravery was such that he was to be recommended for a Victoria Cross but the death of his Commanding Officer just a few days afterwards prevented this).

He is buried in Becourt Military Cemetery.

Download an information sheet on Robert Astley Franklin Eminson.

Image: Downing Rugby XV, 1910-11. Archive ref. DCPH/2/3/8/1.

Downing College First World War Roll of Honour.