George Seaborne ROBINSON MC, MC*, MID

ROBINSON, George Seaborne

Service Numbers: Medical Officer, VX108420
Enlisted: 15 June 1915
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: Headquarters Staff
Born: Corryong, Victoria, Australia, 21 September 1887
Home Town: Kew East, Boroondara, Victoria
Schooling: Carlton College, St Thomas Grammar School, Melbourne University, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Medical Practitioner
Died: Kew, Victoria, Australia, 24 October 1955, aged 68 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Privately Cremated
Springvale Botanical Cemetery and ashes scattered
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World War 1 Service

15 Jun 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, Medical Officer, Staff for No 1 Hospital Ship 'Karoola'
16 Jun 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Lieutenant, Medical Officer, Staff for No 1 Hospital Ship 'Karoola', HMAT Karoola, Sydney
14 Jul 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Captain, Staff for No 1 Hospital Ship 'Karoola'
17 Jul 1915: Involvement Captain, Hospital Transport Corps
17 Jul 1915: Embarked Captain, Hospital Transport Corps, HMAT Orsova, Melbourne
2 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Captain, 3rd Field Ambulance, Tel-el-Kebir Camp, Egypt
7 Mar 1917: Honoured Military Cross, Conspicuously good work and devotion to duty as a bearer Captain in a Field Ambulance
27 Apr 1917: Honoured Military Cross and bar, For conspicuous service in dressing and evacuating the wounded under heavy shell fire and machine gun fire
24 Aug 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Major, 3rd Field Ambulance
17 Oct 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Major, 3rd Australian General Hospital - WW1, Abbeville, France
7 Nov 1917: Honoured Mention in Dispatches
13 May 1918: Transferred AIF WW1, Major, 10th Field Ambulance
15 Feb 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Major, Medical Officer, 10th Field Ambulance

World War 2 Service

1 Sep 1942: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), VX108420, Headquarters Staff, Unit: 4th Australian Division Rank: Colonel
20 Dec 1943: Embarked Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), VX108420, Headquarters Staff, Unit: 4th Australia Division Rank: Colonel
20 Dec 1944: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), VX108420, Headquarters Staff, Unit: 4th Australia Division Rank: Colonel

Help us honour George Seaborne Robinson's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Sue Smith

George Seaborne Robinson was born on the 21st September 1887 at Corryong VIC.  On his birth registration his name is recorded as George Alfred Augustus Seabonie Robinson.  He was the 2nd child and eldest son born to his parents George and Ada Robinson.  He had an older sister Ada and a younger sister Carol and his younger brother was stillborn.  The family were living in Yandoit VIC when his mother died in 1894...George was just 7 years old.  His father remarried in 1898 to Ada Barber and they had a daughter Dorothy born in 1900 at Yandoit.

George’s education took place at Carlton College in Melbourne and then St Thomas Grammar School at Essendon VIC.  He went on to study medicine at Melbourne University in 1909 and graduated in 1914 with the degrees Batchelor of Medicine and Batchelor of Surgery. 

With the outbreak of WW1 George enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 15th June 1915 aged 28.  His rank was Lieutenant and he was assigned to the Unit No. 1 Hospital Ship Karoola for duties as the Medical Officer.  He’s described as being 5ft 8ins tall with grey eyes, brown hair and sallow complexion.  George embarked from Sydney for Melbourne on the HS Karoola on 16th June.  The Karoola sailed for England to be fitted out as a hospital ship while George embarked from Melbourne for Egypt on HMAT Orsova on the 17th July having been promoted to Captain on the 14th July.  He arrived in Suez on 11th August.  When HS Karoola arrived in Egypt in December 1915 George re-embarked on her treating the wounded from Gallipoli. 

On 2nd February 1916 George was transferred from HS Karoola to the 3rd Field Ambulance (3rd FA) at Tel-el-Kebir Camp.  It was here that he met and served with my grandfather, Cyril Morsley, who was a stretcher bearer with the 3rd FA.  The Unit embarked from Alexandria on 27th March and arrived at Marseilles France on 3rd April.  They entrained from there to Godewaerselde then marched to a farmhouse in Pradelles where they were billeted and could hear the booming of the artillery just 6 miles away at the firing line.  Over the following 8 months George and my grandfather worked closely together as recorded by my grandfather in his war diaries.  The Unit moved regularly throughout northern France spending May and June at Sailly before moving on to Outtersteene, Doullens, Wargnies and Albert in July where they saw very heavy casualties.  In August they moved to Berteaucourt, La Vicogne and then to Proven in Belgium by September. 

On the 9th September 1916 George was recommended for, but not awarded, the Military Cross for the following:

“This Officer did excellent work in charge of stretcher bearers during recent operations on the SOMME.  He worked with untiring zeal tending cases in advanced positions for long hours without rest and cleared his dressing station with the utmost dispatch.  He has always proved himself a most capable and painstaking Officer.”

During October 1916 George and the 3rd FA moved back to France and by the end of October were based at the Corps Rest Station at Buire.  On the 11th November the Rest Station was bombed causing severe damage and loss of life.  The following is from the 3rd FA unit diary:

“At 00.40 this morning an enemy aeroplane flying low, dropped 6 bombs on the 1st Anzac Rest Station.  Five patients were killed outright, thirty three wounded more or less seriously and three slightly.  Of the personnel at this station one was killed, four seriously wounded and one slightly wounded.  All of these belonged to No. 3 Australian Field Ambulance.  One bomb was dropped on the Orderly Room, destroying a number of the records of the station and of the unit.  Damage was done to four marquee tents and eight bell tents.  The distinguishing lamps were burning brightly at the time the attack was made.” 

My grandfather records in his diary that 2 nights later the 3rd FA had their busiest night on record attending to 707 patients.  My grandfather became ill and was evacuated to London in early December 1916 just as George and the 3rd FA moved to the Advanced Dressing Station at Bernafay Wood. 

George took leave for most of January 1917 and was then attached to the 11th Infantry Battalion to serve as their Regimental Medical Officer.  In February George suffered a bout of trench fever but remained on duty.  On 7th March 1917 he was once again recommended for...and this time was awarded...the Military Cross for the following:

“For conspicuously good work as a bearer Captain and in a Field Ambulance during the period 21.9.16 to 25.2.17.  Whether in the forward areas evacuating wounded from the line or in the various stations that his unit has administered, his work has always stood out as being of the most efficient and thorough character.  He has exhibited great self-sacrifice and devotion to duty.”

Just 7 weeks later on 27th April George was again recommended for the Military Cross for the following:

“At LOUVERVAL on the morning of 15th April 1917 during a heavy enemy attack, Captain George Robinson worked under continuous heavy shell fire, dressing and evacuating wounded until forced by the severity of the shelling to move his Regimental Aid Post to another location.  Notwithstanding the proximity of the enemy, who were now within rifle range, this movement was completed without interference with the maintenance of evacuation. On the morning of the same day he personally led a party out in front of our line for the purpose of searching the ground, dressing and evacuating wounded not yet collected.  During the whole of this time he was exposed to enemy snipers and machine gun fire.”

George was awarded a Bar to the Military Cross which is presented to holders of the Military Cross in recognition of a further award of the medal for acts of bravery in combat on land.  George left the 3rd FA at Ribemont in France on 28th May and travelled to England where he was presented with the Military Cross and Bar by the King at Buckingham Palace on the 6th June 1917. 

He re-joined the 11th Battalion at Ribemont France on 11th June and on 24th August 1917 was promoted to Major.  The Unit moved several times between the end of July and the beginning of September and by 20th were at Polygon Wood in Belgium involved in the battle there and then at Broodseinde Ridge in early October.  These battles were part of the Third Battle of Ypres.  On the 8th October, as a result of his actions at Polygon Wood, George was recommended for the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for the following:

“During the operations east of Ypres on 20th-21st September 1917, Major Robinson continued to work at his post in the jumping off trench when subjected to continuous shell fire.  He subsequently established a second post by his own endeavours, this also became untenable.  He again shifted his post right forward to immediately in front of Red Line (First Objective) and again established himself.  By his grit, determination and utter disregard of personal safety he was able to give immediate attention to wounded”.

George was not awarded the DSO but in early November was Mentioned in Despatches of Sir Douglas Haig.  George was transferred to the 3rd Australian General Hospital (3AGH) at Abbeville on the 17th October 1917 and a month later was granted a Commission.  He remained at the 3AGH till the 13th May 1918 when he was transferred to the 10th Field Ambulance at Allonville.  In July 1918 he suffered another bout of trench fever which saw him classified by the medical board as permanently medically unfit and recommended for return to Australia. 

While on leave in England he married 27 year old Australian Nurse, Mary Veronica Carey (Mollie), at the Roman Catholic Cathedral at St George Hanover Square in London on 28th August 1918.  She resigned her appointment due to getting married and on 27th September they embarked for Australia on HMNZT Arawa with George serving as the Medical Officer on the ship on the return journey.  They disembarked in Melbourne on the 17th November 1918 and George was discharged on the 15th February 1919.  Upon their return to Australia George and Mollie lived at Lockhart NSW where in l919 their daughter Joan was born followed by Ian in 1922 and Kathleen in 1926. 

In April 1920 George was appointed the Government Medical Officer of Lockhart.  In October 1920 he transferred to the Reserve of Officers in VIC and in 1922 transferred to the Reserve of Officers in NSW.  In April 1924 George and Mollie and the family moved to 23 Douglas Parade Williamstown VIC where he commenced a medical practice with Dr Leo Gurry at that address.  In June 1927 George transferred to the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC) Reserves in VIC and then in August 1928 he transferred to the AAMC. 

In November 1931 George was transferred to 3rd District Base to the 2nd Heavy Brigade Australian Garrison Artillery VIC.  On 1st August 1935 he was given command of the 6th Field Ambulance (6th FA).  A promotion to Lieutenant Colonel followed in July 1936 and in August 1939 his appointment to the 6th FA was extended by 12 months.  He was promoted to Colonel in July 1940 and appointed Assistant Director of Medical Services (ADMS) of the 4th Australian Division.  In November 1941 he was seconded from the Citizen’s Military Forces (CMF) to the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) enlisting as a Reserve.  The 4th Division became part of the III Corps in being responsible for the defence of Western Australia.  George was appointed to the 5th Military District and entrained for WA on 24th April 1942.  On the 1st September 1942 George enlisted at the Headquarters (HQ) of the 4th Australian Division aged 54.  His service number was VX108420, his rank was Colonel and his Unit was HQ 4th Australian Division.

On 16th December 1942 George took leave for 24 days to visit his family.  He re-joined his Unit in WA in late January 1943 and in mid-February was admitted to the 2/1st Australian General Hospital at Merredin WA with lymphangitis...inflammation of lymphatic system caused by infection.  He re-joined his Unit in late March and a month later in mid-April, flew to Melbourne.  In April and May 1943, the 4th Division headquarters was transferred to Townsville in north Queensland.  George was posted to Townsville and flew there from Melbourne on 30th April 1942. 

The division headquarters moved to Thursday Island in October 1943 and then to Cape York at which time it assumed control of the Torres Strait Force and the Merauke Force.  By February 1944, as the threat of invasion to northern Queensland reduced, the division reported directly to the First Army commanded by General Douglas MacArthur in charge of the South West Pacific Area No. 5.  This included parts of New Guinea and the Torres Strait Islands.  George was detailed for duty on Horn Island and at Merauke in Papua.  His method of transport was by plane and he flew 17 missions, mainly between Higgins Field at Bamaga on Cape York to Merauke, between 20th December 1943 and 24th October 1944.  On 20th September 1944 he was appointed ADMS Rear Echelon.  However, in mid-November he had to relinquish this appointment due to ill health.  Just a few days later his father died in Geelong aged 88. 

On 15th December 1944 George was classified medically unfit with hyperpiesia...persistent high blood pressure with no specific cause.  A week later he was discharged, transferred to the Retired List and given the rank of Honorary Colonel. 

On the 4th April 1945 George was awarded the Australian Efficiency Decoration which entitled the recipient to post-nominal letters after their name...TD are for recipients serving in the Territorial Army of the United Kingdom or ED for those serving in the Auxiliary Military Forces.  This decoration was instituted in 1930 for award to part-time Officers after twenty years of service as an efficient and thoroughly capable Officer on the active list of these forces. 

Two of George’s children also served in WW2...Joan with the Air Force and Ian with the Army. 

George lived with Mollie at 34 Molesworth Street, Kew VIC, from 1949 until the 24th October 1955 when he passed away at home aged 67.  He was cremated on the 26th October 1955 at the Springvale Cemetery and his ashes scattered. 

George is commemorated on the Carlton College and St Thomas Grammar School Honour Board, now known as the Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School Honour Board.  He is also commemorated on the Essendon Town Hall Honour Board. 

George Seaborne Robinson was awarded for service in WW1...the Military Cross and Bar, 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and was Mentioned in Despatches.  For service in WW2 he was awarded the Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-1945, Australia Service Medal and the Returned from Active Service Badge.

Respectfully submitted by Sue Smith 4th May 2022.