Henry (Robbo) ROBSON



Service Number: 303
Enlisted: 9 October 1914, Sydney, New South Wales
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 6th Light Horse Regiment
Born: Gundurimba, New South Wales, Australia, 19 April 1867
Home Town: Lismore, Lismore Municipality, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Stock & Station Agent/Auctioneer
Died: Killed in Action, Gallipoli, 24 July 1915, aged 48 years
Cemetery: Shell Green Cemetery
Plot I, Row A, Grave No. 7
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Coraki Honour Board
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Boer War Service

1 Nov 1899: Involvement Australian and Colonial Military Forces (Boer War / Boxer Rebellion), Squadron Sergeant Major, SN 303, New South Wales Lancers
1 Jan 1902: Involvement Australian and Colonial Military Forces (Boer War / Boxer Rebellion), Lieutenant, 3rd New South Wales Mounted Rifles

World War 1 Service

9 Oct 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, Sydney, New South Wales
21 Dec 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 6th Light Horse Regiment, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
21 Dec 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 6th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Suevic, Sydney
1 May 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 6th Light Horse Regiment
15 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 6th Light Horse Regiment, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
24 Jul 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 6th Light Horse Regiment, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli

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Biography contributed by Paul Trevor


"Robbo's killed."

The Turks had been subjecting us to a heavy bombardment for some days, and our artillery had been responding vigorously. Mostly their shells buried themselves in the sides of the hills or exploded pretty harmlessly in the air. Then one unlucky shrapnel burst right over the headquarters of the 6th Light Horse regiment, and the word went round---"Robbo's killed!"

We could not believe at first. It seemed a silly lie; one of those baseless camp rumours that some fool starts for a joke. Some of the officers went round to see for themselves. Colonel Cox stood by the dug-out looking old and stricken. "Robbo's killed," he said. Then we knew it was true. Lieutenant Henry Robson lay on the floor of the dug-out, a shrapnel bullet in his breast. And we who had lived with him in camp and on the march for eight strenuous months, sorrowed as keenly as will his North Coast friends when the news is cabled home. To Colonel Cox it was not only the loss of an officer; it was also the loss of an old friend who years before had shared the dangers of battle and the stress of war. All of us liked Lieutenant Robson. Hiis bark was far worse than his bite. He'd give a shirking soldier the full force of his tongue, but his heart---"right there," as "Tipperary" has it, was in the right place. Kind of heart, genial of temper, and always willing to help others, we mourn a man that can ill be spared. He was reckoned the best transport officer in Egypt. He knew horses as few men did. Australians are reputed to be good horsemen, but poor horsemasters. But Lieut. Robson was good all round with horses. He would get more work out of a team than anyone I know. He could get a full measure of work from his men also. But he never overdrove man or beast. That's why we liked him.

Harry Robson was 48 years of age when he died a soldier's death on Gallipoli Heights. He was one of the original Northern Rivers Lancers, and went to England with the New South Wales Lancers in 1893. Later on he went home with the Lancers under Colonel Cox in 1899. Standing 6ft 2in in his socks, he was as straight as the lance he carried. He was an expert swordsman, and won several prizes at the tournaments in Scotland and in Islington. At tent-pegging he was an acknowlodged champion. Latterly, on the transport and in Egypt, we had many bouts with the sword and singlesticks, but none of the younger officers could worst Robson, although he was old enough to be their father. When the South African war broke out he was sergeant-major in the New South Wales Lancers under Colonel Cox, they being the first colonial troops to land at The Cape. He went right through the war, and participated in the battles of Modder River, Magersfontein, Graspan, Paardeberg, Driefontein, and the Relief of Kimberley. He was with French's Column during the main advance. When the 3rd Imperial Mounted Rifles were formed Lieutenant Robson became transport officer under Colonel Cox, and saw a lot of service in Natal, the Orange Free State, and Eastern Transvaal. He participated in Kitchener's big drives, wherein his resourcefulness was of great help to the column. On one occasion Remington's Column was held up by an impassable, boggy morass. The Inniskillens and Canadians bogged. The Australians halted. Lieutenant Robson improvised a crossing with bales of hay and reeds, and got his transport over while the others were wondering how far round they would have to go. On another occasion in the Transvaal, by a simple device, he crossed the Wilge River with all his mules and waggons at a place reckoned absolutely hopeless for wheeled transport.

After the South African war he settled down on the Northern Rivers, and prospered. But when this great cataclysm convulsed the world he heard the call of Empire, and responded like a patriot. He wired to Colonel Cox, offering his services, and left the comforts of home for the discomforts of war. On board the transport he was most painstaking and zealous in the performance of his duties. At Maadi he had his transport running as smoothly as a machine. When we found we were going without our horses we thought that Lieut. Robson would be left behind. But at the last moment the regimental quartermaster fell ill, and Robson filled the breech. And so for nine weary weeks of fighting he looked after the needs of the regiment, and not one trooper ever went to bed hungry. (I said" "bed," but none of us has seen a bed for many months.) As quartermaster there was no need for him to be poking about the trenches and up in the firing line as he did. But it was not in the firing line he was killed. That is the fortune of war. He was standing just near headquarters watching the warships gliding over the Aegean Sea. Then came the fatal shell. We burled him that night in the hill over-looking the blue Mediterranean. The wind moaned through the leaves of a blasted pine, like the home wind in a Northern River oak. The Brigadier, General Ryrie. the O.C, Colonel Cox, and the officers of the 6th Light Horse, assembled for the last sad rites. The regiment had already over a hundred casualties, with several officers wounded, but this was the first officer killed. They'll put his name on Australia's Roll of Honour. In Lismore they'll say kind things of Lieut. Henry Robson. But the regiment will always remember "Robbo." - from the Sydney Morning Herald 20 Sep 1915 (nla.gov.au)