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The son of Sarah and Henry E. Clayton, Robert was born in Condover, Shropshire on 8 November 1881. From 23 August 1897 onwards, he worked as a clerk for the London & North Western Railway Company. In 1904, he married Harriet Elizabeth Merrick in Wolverhampton, and by 1911 they were living at 163 Caledonia Street, off Steelhouse Lane, Wolverhampton, along with their three children Marjorie, Albert Henry and Jessie. Robert was still working as a Clerk for the Railway Company.

Robert does not appear to have enlisted for military service during the First World War. From the outbreak of war, he served as an Orderly for the British Red Cross, doing transport work from the station to the General Hospital in Wolverhampton, doing orderly duty there and at Red Cross Drives, concerts etc, and air raid duty at Bilston Road Air Raid station. He also assisted in the instruction of two First Aid and two Home Nursing classes.

By 1939 Robert was still working as a railway clerk, living at 55 Riches Street with his wife and children Jessie and Iris. Robert died in Wolverhampton in 1962 at the age of 81.