Robert Launer was 23 years old when war broke out. At that time he was living in Reutlingen in Württemberg. Robert enlisted as a gunner in Feldartillerieregiment 29.
In August 1914, his unit was sent to the western front. From the barracks in Ludwigsburg he sent to his parents all the possessions which he thought he did not need. He wrote to them, "I hope that you are still safe and sound. Above all, do not make a fuss if I don't come back. Everyone has to die one day."
Robert took part in the Battle of the Marne and the First Battle of Ieper. He was then transferred with his unit to the western front in France. In summer 1917, his regiment was sent post-haste to Flanders in order to strengthen resistance to the offensive mounted by General Haig, who was advancing on Passchendaele.
On 19 August 1917, Robert's troop found out that British tanks were attacking near to Poelkapelle. The gunners had to occupy a forward post. While they were setting up their artillery, Robert met his fate. A tiny piece of shrapnel pierced his lungs.
He died in his comrades' arms. He was 26 years old.
Robert Launer was buried two days later in the cemetery at Hooglede. His personal effects were sent to his family - five marks and a clock.
The Launer family was to be badly affected by the war. Scarcely two weeks before Robert's death, his younger brother Eugen lost his life. He was 18 years old when he died of appendicitis in a mobile hospital.
Of three sons, only Heinrich was to survive at the front.
(Source: Characters from the Great War on http://www.inflandersfields.be)