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Robert Tunstill CAVENAGH (1895-1965)

Biographical Details

2nd Lieutenant Robert Tunstill Cavenagh (1895-1965) was a colleague of Cyril Sladden in the 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.

Robert Cavenagh was born in 1895 in Worcester, the youngest of four children of John Paul Cavenagh, a physician and surgeon, and his wife, Annabella. It is likely that his mother died in childbirth, or shortly afterwards, as she died at Worcester on 27th June 1895, which was the quarter in which Robert was born. Robert’s father married again and, at the time of the 1901 census, they lived at 57 Tything, Worcester. A half-sister was born a few years later and, in 1911, the family lived at Thorneloe House, Worcester.

The Oxford University Rolls Book reveals that Robert was accepted for admission to Magdalen College but did not matriculate. Instead, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, Cavenagh was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant on 22nd August 1914. He was one of the group of officers of the 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment which set sail from Southampton in June 1915 with Cyril Sladden, bound for Gallipoli. Cavenagh, like Cyril, was wounded on the night of 12th August 1915. Unlike Cyril, however, who went to Malta, Cavenagh was sent to England with his wounds. He returned to service in January 1916, but was wounded again on 20th April 1916 in the campaign to relieve the British garrison besieged by the Turks in the city of Kut-al-Amara on the River Tigris.

At the end of the war Cavenagh was issued with the Silver War Badge, indicating that he had been honourably discharged from military service due to wounds or sickness.

In a chance meeting in February 1916, Mary Sladden (Cyril’s sister-in-law) was introduced to Lieutenant Cavenagh’s sister on a train journey. Cyril’s fiancée, Mela Brown Constable reported the meeting in a letter of 23rd February 1916: “The friend was Miss Cavenagh, brother to Lieutenant Cavenagh of your regiment. All her 3 brothers are serving. One is a doctor in France, then another is in Flanders, and your one is the youngest.”

After the war, Robert Cavenagh became a planter. Shipping records reveal that he went out to Malaya in November 1925.

Robert married Victoria Alexandra E Rose in the Croydon district of Surrey in 1934; they had a son and two daughters.  Robert died in the Hastings district of Sussex in 1965 and was buried on 3rd September 1965 at St Andrew, Fairlight, Sussex.

Letters mentioning this person: