Robert Matthew BEATHAM VC


BEATHAM, Robert Matthew

Service Numbers: 2056, 2742
Enlisted: 8 January 1915, Geelong, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 8th Infantry Battalion
Born: Glassonby, England, 16 June 1894
Home Town: Geelong, Greater Geelong, Victoria
Schooling: Maughanby School, Glassonby, England
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Lihons, France, 11 August 1918, aged 24 years
Cemetery: Heath Cemetery
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Keith Payne VC Memorial Park, North Bondi War Memorial, Winchelsea WWI Memorial
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World War 1 Service

8 Jan 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2056, Geelong, Victoria
17 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2056, 8th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
17 Apr 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2056, 8th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Hororata, Melbourne
15 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2742, 8th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
15 Sep 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2742, 8th Infantry Battalion, SS Makarini, Melbourne
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2742, 8th Infantry Battalion, Pozières
9 Aug 1916: Honoured Victoria Cross, Pozières
31 Jul 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2742, 8th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
8 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2742, 8th Infantry Battalion, "The Last Hundred Days"


The details provided are taken from the book "Stealth Raiders - a few daring men in 1918" written by Lucas Jordan, published 2017, refer page 262. Prior to the war he was a labourer of Geelong Vic. Enlisted 8 Jan 1915 aged 20 years. Allocated to 8th Battalion. Awarded the Victoria Cross and a Mention in Dispatches ( VC MID ). Unfortunately, he was Killed in Action 11 Aug 1918. Lest we forget.

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Robert Matthew Beatham, was born on 16 June 1894 at Glassonby, Cumberland, England.

Son of John Beatham, papermaker's foreman, and his wife Elizabeth (née Allison).

His brothers, Lance Corporal Isaac Allan A. Beatham, Sergeant John Wilfred Beatham and Private Frederick William Beatham also fell whilst serving with British forces.

While still in his teens he migrated with his brother Walter to Australia and was working at Geelong, Victoria, as a labourer.

8/1/1915     enlisted in the AIF

Beatham embarked for Egypt in April and was returned to Australia on medical grounds in July.

He re-embarked in September with reinforcements for the 8th Battalion

six months later moved on to France where he was twice wounded in action
—at Pozières in August 1916 and Passchendaele in October 1917.

When the great Allied offensive was launched on 8/8/1918, his unit was among those ordered to advance from Harbonnières and capture the high ground of Lihons north of Rosières. On approaching this German strong point on 9/9/1918 the 8th Battalion, its supporting tanks knocked out by heavy artillery fire, was halted by a line of machine-guns.  Private Beatham's company worked its way forward to enfilade the enemy position and, assisted by Lance Corporal W. G. Nottingham, he rushed forward and bombed the crews of four guns, killing ten men and capturing ten others. This action enabled the battalion to renew its advance.

On 11/8/1918 when nearing its objective on the southern slope of Lihons it was again halted by German reinforcements. Beatham, though wounded, rushed another machine-gun and bombed and silenced it, but was riddled with bullets.

He was buried at Heath cemetery, Harbonnières.

His award of the Victoria Cross was posthumous.

14/12/1918        London Gazette
For most conspicuous bravery and self sacrifice during the attack north of Rosieres, east of Amiens, on 9th August, 1918, When machinegun fire, Pte. Beatham dashed forward, and, assisted by one man, bombed and fought the crews of four enemy machine guns, killing ten of them and capturing ten others, thus facilitating the advance and saving many casualties. When the final objective was reached, although previously wounded, he again dashed forward and bombed a machine gun, being riddled with bullets and killed in doing so. The valour displayed by this gallant soldier inspired all ranks in a wonderful manner.