Robert Hillman (Bert) BOTTEN


BOTTEN, Robert Hillman

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 27 September 1915, Adelaide South Australia Australia
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Prospect South Australia Australia, 25 September 1888
Home Town: Prospect, Prospect, South Australia
Schooling: North Adelaide Public School and University College North Adelaide, South, Australia
Occupation: Bank Offical
Died: Killed in Action, Warlencourt-Eaucourt Nord-Pas-de-Calais France, 2 March 1917, aged 28 years
Cemetery: Warlencourt British Cemetery
(VI. H. 34.) Inscription "Dearly Beloved Husband Of Ethel Rose Botte Adelaide, S. A."
Memorials: Adelaide Grand Masonic Lodge WW1 Honour Board (1), Adelaide National War Memorial, Adelaide Rowing Club WW1 Pictorial Honour Board, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Prospect Roll of Honour A-G WWI Board, Tanunda Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

27 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide South Australia Australia
28 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
28 Aug 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 27th Infantry Battalion
2 Mar 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Officer , 27th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages
Date unknown: Involvement 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières


Mrs. Botten has received official notification of the death of her husband, Lieutenant Robert Hillman Botten, who was killed in action in France on March 2. He was in his 28th year. He enlisted in September, 1915, and was selected to go to the officers' school at Duntroon. He was recommended for a commission, and on May 1 became second lieutenant. He left South Australia on August 28. When in England he passed through an adjutants' school. He proceeded to France early in December, and joined his battalion. Lieutenant Botten was the third son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Botten, of Prospect. He was married to Miss Ethel Rose Jacka third daughter of W. J. and S. Jacka, of Melrose, in March, 1916. He was educated at the North Adelaide public school and University College, North Adelaide, where he acquitted himself with honour. He was a prominent cricketer, footballer, and tennis player in the northern towns, particularly Tanunda, Snowtown, and Melrose, where he was well known. In business he was connected with the E.S. and A. Bank for several years, and for sometime was manager of the Branch at Melrose. He resigned from the bank and joined the staff of the Commonwealth Bank in Adelaide. In business, social, and sports circles he was popular. He was a member of the Congregational Church at Medindie. He was also a member of the Masonic craft. One brother Lance Corporal Frank Dyas Botten, served 12 months in Egypt in the A.M.C. and was transferred to France as a member of the Field Ambulance. The two brothers met recently in a dugout near the front lines.

Source: Chronicle (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 24 March 1917, page 45.

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Lieutenant Robert Botten was killed in action on the 2nd of March 1917, whilst attacking the German position at Malt Trench, Warlencourt.


Just before the attack was about to proceed, however, Lieutenant Botten was re-united with his younger brother one last time in the front line trench. Private Frank Dyas Botten (4th Field Ambulance) was serving in the area and after having a powerful sense of Robert's impending death rushed to say a final goodbye. Just after they finished the attack was called and Lieutenant Botten 'hopped the bags' one last time.

Moving along with the rest of D Company of the 27th Battalion they advanced across the first 130 yards very quickly. During that, however, "Lieut. Botten, whilst most courageously leading his men, was killed.[1]" Indeed the initial attack on behalf of the 27th Battalion was a disaster and some the Germans were organising an attack on their own part and it was only after reinforcements were called up to counter-attack that the situation brought under control. In this counter-attack, however, another two officers in the 27th Battalion were killed.

All three officers were originally buried in the same grave, however, after the war they were separated and re-buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery.   


[1] The Blue and Brown Diamond, pg 75. 

Special thanks also to the Tanunda Regional Art Gallery (Tanunda Soldiers Memorial Hall) for the main photograph and the AWM/Adelaide Rowing Club for the other portrait photograph. 


Nathan Rohrlach, March 2015.


Biography contributed by Geoffrey Gillon

He enlisted on 29 September 1915. He embarked for overseas with the 15th Reinforcements from Adelaide on 28 August 1916 aboard HMAT Anchises. After being promoted to Lieutenant, he was killed in action on 2 March 1917 while participating in an attack on a German position and was buried at Sunken Road leading off the main Bapaume Road in the village of Warlencourt, France. Lieutenant Botten was later re-interred in Warlencourt British Cemetery.

Son of Robert and Ann Jane Botten; husband of Ethel Rose Botten, of "Dimora," Kensington Rd., Leabrook, South Australia.