Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
6980686   Fusilier Robert Gildea
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 17/12/2020
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 19/01/1905
Died: 19/07/1943 (Killed in Action)
Age: 36
Robert Gildea was the son of Robert and Hester Gildea. He was born on 5th October 1906 in Cookstown. His father had been in the army and was a painter. Robert worked as a farm labourer. While in service he was ‘batman’ to Colonel Pennyfeather-Evans. The 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers took part in the invasion of Sicily. Fusilier Robert Gildea was killed in action at the Battle of Lemon Bridge, Sicily on 19th July 1943, aged 36.
Fusilier Robert Gildea
Further Information
Robert Gildea was the son of Robert & Hester Gildea. Robert Gildea married Hessy McCullagh on 19th January 1905 in Cookstown. Robert was born on 5th October 1906 in Cookstown.
Millburn Street, Cookstown
The 1911 census lists Robert John as age 4 living with the family at house 66 in Millburn Street, Cookstown. Robert’s father was an Army Pensioner and a House Painter.
Family: Robert Gildea, Hester Gildea, Robert John Gildea (born 5th October 1906), Anne Jane Gildea (born 17th March 1908, died 10th April 1915), Maggie Gildea (born 17th October 1910), Thomas Gildea (born 6th April 1913).
Tragically Robert’s younger sister Anne Jane who was burnt to death at home on 10th April 1915, aged just seven.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 20th February 1915:
A little girl named Annie Gildea, whose parents reside at Oldtown Street, Cookstown, met with a serious burning accident on Monday evening, her clothes catching fire. Her father, a painter, being out of/at work, the mother is at present employed in Millburn factory. It appears the little girl was a lone in the house with some younger children, and is not able to explain exactly what happened, but Mr Robert Bell, merchant tailor, who resides opposite, saw the child rushing out with her clothes in flames. He immediately ran across, and pulling off his coat as he went, promptly wrapped around the child and put out the flames. Rev James Bloomer, who was passing, went at once for some soothing dressing, which was applied by Miss L McCormick (an U.V.F. nurse), who otherwise rendered first aid until the arrival of Dr. Knight. The burns are of a serious nature. Mr Bell deserves credit for his promptitude, which is not the first instance of his presence of mind, as he recently noticed flames in the upstairs room of another house opposite his shop, and running over found the curtains and bed on fire, while the family downstairs were unconscious of their risk. The action of Miss McCormick and Mr Bloomer proves the value of ambulance and first aid training in emergencies.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 17th April 1915: Deaths
GILDEA – 10th April, at her father’s residence, Oldtown Street, Cookstown, little Annie, beloved daughter of Robert and Hessie Gildea.
‘Long days and nights she bore in pain,
To wait for cure, twas all in vain;
But God alone who thought it best,
Relieved her pain and gave her rest.’
Robert and Hessie Gildea.
Prior to enlistment Robert worked as a farm labourer with the Espie family, Lismoney, Cookstown.
Robert Gildea photo
While in service he was ‘batman’ to Colonel Pennyfeather-Evans. It is though this might be Lieutenant Colonel Granville Pennefather-Evans, who was with the Indian Army.
Fusilier Robert Gildea served with his cousin, Jim McCullough with the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in France before evacuation to Dunkirk, when they where then posted to Madagascar, India.
The battalion took part in the invasion of Sicily and mainland Italy.
Fusilier Robert Gildea was killed in action at the Battle of Lemon Bridge, Sicily on 19th July 1943, aged 36.
Lemon Bridge, Sicily
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 14th August 1943: Roll of Honour
GILDEA – July 1943, in the Middle East, Fusilier Robert Gildea (killed in action), elder son of the late Robert Gildea. Morgan’s Hill, Cookstown. Deeply regretted by his sister. Mrs Hudson, Coolreaghs, Cookstown, and his aunts, Millburn Street, Cookstown.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 22nd July 1944: Roll of Honour
GILDEA – In loving memory of Robert Gildea, killed in action in Sicily, July 1943. Will always be remembered by his sister and brother-in-law. Maggie and George, Coolreaghs, Cookstown.
Robert is buried at Catania War Cemetery, Sicily.
Photo of  Robert Gildea headstone
He is also commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph and the family burial plot in Cookstown New Cemetery, Westland Rd, Cookstown.
After his death, his sister, Mrs. Maggie Hudson, received a letter from Colonel Pennyfeather-Evans in which he stated “Bob was a fine little Irishman”. His sister Maggie said “In God’s good time we’ll meet again”.
Fusilier Robert Gildea was the brother of Sergeant Thomas Gildea, who was killed in action 19th May 1940.
The CWGC record Fusilier Gildea as the son of Robert and Hesther Gildea of Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
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Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Millburn Street Cookstown North Census listing in Millburn Street 54.650435 -6.746418
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1911 Census lists Gildea family Lists Robert John as age 4 living with the family at house 66 in Millbourn St, Cookstown
2 Fusilier William Harkness Also killed in the Lemon Bridge battle
3 Sergeant Thomas James Gildea Brother of Fusilier Robert Gildea
4 War Graves Photographic Project Photo of Fusilier Robert Gildea's grave can be purchased here
5 - virtual war grave cemeteries Gildea, Robert grave photo
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2023