Robert Frederick COMFORT


COMFORT, Robert Frederick

Service Number: 8797
Enlisted: 7 September 1915, Brisbane, Qld.
Last Rank: Driver
Last Unit: 5th Field Artillery Brigade
Born: Brisbane, Qld., 9 August 1893
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Coorparoo State School, Technical College
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Killed in Action, France, 13 March 1917, aged 23 years
Cemetery: Martinpuich British Cemetery
Row B Grave 18
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Coorparoo Roll of Honor, Coorparoo Shire Memorial Gates (Greenslopes), Coorparoo State School Honour Roll
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

7 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Driver, SN 8797, 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column, Brisbane, Qld.
16 Nov 1915: Involvement Driver, SN 8797, 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column
16 Nov 1915: Embarked Driver, SN 8797, 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column, HMAT Port Macquarie, Melbourne
13 Mar 1917: Involvement Driver, SN 8797, 5th Field Artillery Brigade


Robert Frederick Comfort # 8797 5th Field Artillery Battery

Robert Comfort was the youngest, but first to enlist, of three brothers whose parents: Edith and Frank Comfort lived at Bennetts Road, Coorparoo. Robert enrolled at Coorparoo State School in 1899. At the time of his enlistment on 7th September 1915, Robert was 22 years old and employed as a clerk.

Although he enlisted in Brisbane, Robert was sent to Sydney to train with the Field Artillery. Just two weeks after Robert enlisted his elder brother James (see above) also enlisted. Given that both boys ended up in artillery units, it is reasonable to assume that they joined up with the hope of staying together. Robert embarked for overseas on 16th November 1915 (James left two months later) but upon arrival in Egypt was reunited with his brother. They arrived together in Marseilles in March 1916 and were billeted around Armentieres before Robert was transferred to the 5th Field Artillery as a driver. It is quite likely that the paths of the two brothers continued to intersect at ammunition dumps and rest camps.

Robert was posted to the 105th Howitzer Battery of the Australian Field Artillery. The artillery pieces were pulled by a team of four or six horses, with a driver riding astride the right hand horse in a pair. The howitzers employed by the AIF were of British manufacture and fired their projectiles in a high arc. Ammunition was either high explosive (used to cut barbed wire entanglements, destroy trenches and fortifications) or shrapnel (shells that burst in the air over advancing infantry).
The first major deployment of the Australian artillery batteries was during the battle for Pozieres, when Robert’s battery laid down a barrage for the advancing troops of the 1st and 2nd Divisions as they attacked first the village of Pozieres and then OG1 and OG2 (The two lines of trenches in front of the Pozieres windmill).

After Pozieres, the Australian divisions went back to Flanders for a rest before being called upon again to support Australian Infantry attacks at Flers and Guedecourt before Haig closed down the front for the winter, which would prove to be the coldest for 40 years.

During the spring of 1917, the Germans began a withdrawal along the front on the British Sector back to the heavily defended Hindenburg Line, abandoning the trenches in front of Bapaume which the Australians had failed to take in November 1916. As the Australian 2nd Division cautiously advanced on Bapaume, the artillery was called in to cut the wire in front of the main defences. During this action on 13th March, 1917; Driver Robert Comfort was killed in action. His death was most probably caused by German artillery fire directed at the Australian batteries.

Robert’s burial is recorded as being in Martinpuich British Cemetery, located only a few kilometres from Pozieres on the Albert – Bapaume Road. As was usual practice, personal belongings of deceased servicemen were returned eventually to the next of kin. In Robert’s case, his mother received a scarf and a tea strainer. She also began to receive a widow’s pension of 30 shillings a fortnight; which was in addition to the 35 shillings she was granted as a result of her other son, James Comfort dying of wounds (see above).

It would appear that there was a certain amount of difficulty in winding up the estates of the two brothers as Edith Comfort wrote to Base Records in Melbourne in 1924 seeking copies of death certificates to be forwarded to a firm of London solicitors. She wrote again in 1943 with a similar request.

A third brother, William Frank Norton Comfort also enlisted in the AIF. William enrolled at Coorparoo State School in 1899. At the time he gave his occupation as railway porter and would appear to have been deployed in railway work in France and Belgium. William survived the war and returned to Australia in 1919.

Showing 1 of 1 story

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Son of William Edward COMFORT and Edith Margaret nee FREDERICK, Bennetts Road, Coorparoo, Brisbane, Queensland


COMFORT.—Killed in action in France, on 13th March, 1917, Driver Robert Frederick Comfort, of Howitzer Battery, youngest son of W. E. and E. M. Comfort, of "Yalcogreen," 
Bennett's-road, Coorparoo.