Lance-Corporal Robert Wakeman

Robert Percival Wakeman was born on 6 July 1878. In civilian life he was an actor who used the name Samuel (or Stanley) Beard. The date of his enlistment is unclear but he served with the Grenadier Guards in the Sudan in the 1896-98 campaign. Two medals for this were issued, the Khedive's Sudan medal and the Queen's Sudan medal. The one he is wearing on his Guards tunic is probably the Khedive's, which was issued in 1897. The Queen's was issued in 1899 so the photo may well date between those dates. The photo was supplied by his granddaughter, Carol Hebden (nee Wakeman) who also sent the photo of him in WW1 and his medals below. The uniform is the dress tunic of the Grenadier Guards with two broad stripes on his right arm to show his rank of lance-corporal, and a slimmer stripe on his left forearm to indicate 3 years good conduct. His pill-box cap is blue with a scarlet cap-band and brass grenade badge.

Robert Wakeman in WW1

Robert Wakeman apparently deserted his battalion which was inactive at the beginning of World War 1. He was keen to join the fighting so he re-enlisted under a different name and fought at Ypres. The photo of him in WW1 khaki uniform shows a badge on his cap which is hard to identify but may be a Royal Sussex regiment badge. His family are sure that he received a 'Queen's Pardon' for his desertion. They think he served in the Boer War, but his medals do not show this. He admitted to his desertion, and use of a false name, to his CO at the end of the war. The fact that his medals include a Defence Medal for World War 2 show that he perhaps served in the Home Guard then.

Robert Wakeman's Medals

Robert Wakeman's medals span 50 years and are, from left to right: Queen's Sudan Medal, 1914-18 Star, British War Medal 1914-18, Victory Medal, Defence Medal 1939-45, Royal Victorian Medal, an unidentified medal with blue and white stripes, and the Khedive's Sudan Medal.

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by Stephen Luscombe