Robert Balderston FIFE

Regiment:                 Royal Field Artillery, 51st Division
                                 Ammunition Column                                 
                                 formerly Royal Garrison Artillery,
                                 Ross-shire Battery  

Rank & Number:      

06 May 1886; Annfield Place, Lylesland,

                         16 October 1953; Tarbet Hotel, Tarbet  


ROBERT BALDERSTON FIFE was born Robert Balderston on 06 May 1886 at Annfield Place, Lylesland, Paisley, to parents James, a thread manufacturer, and Janet Jamieson Fife (who married in Fairlie on 12 Jun 1885).  He was found dead in bed at the Tarbet Hotel, Tarbet  at 7.30am on 16 Oct 1953, having previously been seen alive at 11pm on 15 Oct (aged 67, widower, naval architect, of The Place, Fairlie).  He is buried in Largs Cemetery – the inscription reads “Robert Balderston Fife, JP, Grandson of William Fife, b 1886, d. 1953”  

He married Mrs Alys Simpson Donaldson on 30 July 1929 at St. Paul's Church, Portman Square, London.  

Robert Balderston was the nephew of William Fife III (his sister’s eldest son).  According to the Scottish Maritime Museum, Robert was given a position at the yard as a trainee draughtsman in 1901 and made partner in 1919.  On 5 Dec 1914, the Largs & Millport Weekly News reported that he had adopted the name Fife, and would henceforth be known as Robert Balderston Fife.  

In the 1891 Census. Robert, aged 4, is in the household of grandfather William Fife (69, yacht builder) at Croftend House, Bay Street, Fairlie with his mother Jean (23) and her siblings   In the 1901 Census, he is aged 14 and a boarder at Morrisons Academy, Crieff, Perthshire. 

In the 1911 Census, aged 24 and a naval architect and yacht builder, he is living at The Place, Fairlie in the household of his grandmother Mary Fife  


The Largs & Millport Weekly News reported his name added to the Roll of Honour on 23 Jan 1915 (2nd Lieut. R.B. Fife, The Place of the Ross-shire Battery, R.G.A.), and on 8 May 1915 that he had left that week for “somewhere abroad”.  His medal index card shows the first theatre of war entered was France on 4 May 1915.  On 21 Aug 1915 it was reported that he’d been promoted to Captain, and on 17 Mar 1917 that he’d been invalided home from France to hospital in Torquay.  His medal index card shows he received the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory medals.

Extracts from the Largs & Millport Weekly News:-  

5 December 1914       
Mr. Robert Balderston has adopted the name of Fife and will now be known as Robert Balderston Fife.

23 January 1915        
An extra name for the Roll of Honour is that of 2nd Lieut. R.B. Fife, The Place, of the Ross-shire Battery, R.G.A.   8 May 1915     2nd Lieut. R.B. Fife and Privates Tom Miller and James Smith left this week for somewhere abroad.  

21 August 1915
2nd Lieut. Robert Balderston Fife, who is at present in France with the 51st Highland Division Ammunition Column, RFA, has been promoted to Captain.  

30 October 1915       
Captain Robert Balderston Fife is home from France on a short spell of leave.   

5 February 1916         
Furlough still provides a touch of khaki for the weekends.  Prominent amongst our visitors was Captain R.B. Fife, The Place, fresh from the French front.  

2 December 1916       
Captain R.B. Fife, The Place, arrived home during the weekend on a short furlough from the Western front.  

6 January 1917
Temporary Lieut-Colonel R.B. Fife has been mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s recent dispatch for gallant service and devotion to duty.  

17 March 1917  
We learn with regret that Captain R.B. Fife has been invalided home from France and is now in hospital in Torquay.  It is the general wish that he may have a speedy and complete recovery

Back to list of soldiers names


Fairlie Community Association SCIO
Scottish Charity No. SC028785