Robert was born in Buckley in 1883, the son of Robert Birks (Berks) 1840-1892 and Mary Lewis 1843-1914. His father was a Brickmaker and his mother had a small Sweet Shop. The family lived at Lane End, Buckley. Robert was one of 7 children , his siblings being:
- Sarah Ann 1864-?. She married Richard Williams and they settled in Chadderton, Lancashire. It is likely that Sarah met her husband whilst she was working in service in Chadderton in 1881.
- Martha 1865-1938. Martha married George Bowyer and they settled in Northwich, Cheshire.
- Joseph 1869-1957. Joseph married Gertrude Egerton and they emigrated to Boston, US in 1907.
- Frances 1873-1873 died in infancy
- Mary Ellen 1874-1961 Married Frederick Monk in 1902, lived in Liverpool.
- Elizabeth 1879-1978. Elizabeth married Richard Peters in 1904 and they lived in Buckley.
Before joining the Army Robert was employed at Messrs. Summers’ ironworks as a cutter down. He was keenly interested in bowling, and was a member of the Padeswood Bowling team.
There is a memorial to Robert on the headstone of his parents’ grave at St. Matthews in Buckley.
Robert Edward was a third cousin of Frederick Birks, V.C.