Robert Ralph ABERCROMBY

ABERCROMBY, Robert Ralph

Service Number: 2660
Enlisted: 28 June 1916, Perth, Western Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 44th Infantry Battalion
Born: Newcastle-On-Tyne, England, August 1882
Home Town: Cottesloe, Peppermint Grove, Western Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Carpenter
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

28 Jun 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2660, Perth, Western Australia
9 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2660, 44th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
9 Nov 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2660, 44th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Argyllshire, Fremantle
7 Jun 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2660, Messines
10 Jun 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 2660, 44th Infantry Battalion, Messines, GSW (buttocks and left leg))
13 Mar 1918: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 2660, 44th Infantry Battalion

Diary from Battle of Messines June 1917

27 May Just arrived Catacombs working party just previous shell flew half latrines away and cook house while coming here saw a shell burst in front of a farm house and out scooted the family the old man running with an empty barrow and leaving his Mrs. following up 50 yards behind must of got shell shock one of our planes down on the road firing hard by just now wistling overhead.

Going out today they were shelling the Art. and got one dumped not far from us we saw the big flash and then a lot of smoke and then the Bang.

We worked all morning without him troubling us till lunch time then he put the first whizz bang right among us then they come one after the other and we had to scatter and run for the dug outs and shelter for fully an hour before we could venture out one shell burst 8 ft. away and one of our fellows luckily was sitting down and was rolled over but missed.

31st May A Fritz brought down a captive balloon dived on it firing shrapnell at it missed first time then the men in it jumped out in parachutes and Fritz dived on it again and set it alight and scooted with our guns firing at him but he got away and our men landed safely. Got Fritz coming back.

June 2nd One of our dumps blown up 100 or more casualties. Some of C Comp of our Batt. killed and wounded. Finished work after being 8 hours on it dug out for cooker at 3 afternoon and were called up at 1 o’clock the next morning and had to go and work again till 7 o’clock pretty tough on little tucker.

Marched to the Catacomb to billet and a big strafe going on with Fritz sending up a wonderful variety of red green and white vary lights a grand sight all along the front combined with the flashes of the big guns etc.

Supposed capture of a spy this morning coming in our billets usual ending I suppose shot at dawn.

Sunday June 4th Fatigue all day had to carry gas cylinders back from the front line and coming back about 10 o’clock at night in single file gas alarm what a shock we were flabbergasted hold your breath till you got your gas helmet on and then had to walk a good distance but got home safely

Monday 44th had a daylight raid 36 over the top and brought back 3 prisoners had another but the Lieutenant saw he was badly wounded and put him out of his misery.

6 of our killed Monaghan and McGrath killed poor beggars both married

June 5th Just turning in when the order was rushed along stand to with everything in battle order to advance in ten minutes (what a rush) all ready and then we had to turn in again. Just got in a while when gas alarm more excitement and after that had to go on guard 2 to 4 am things humming.

Fritz got a whole battery.

Got a letter from Badger 12 am just when we had turned in

June 6th Great preparations for the Big Push which starts tonight. We were all asleep and the alarm went gas Had to wake each other up to put on our gas helmets on

No more sleep. Stragglers coming in gassed.

Barrage started after three. Mine blew up signal. Take it Messines went up.

Prisoners coming in wholesale. Word came back reached objective 47 Batt had to fall back.

June 8th We started advance and I think we advanced 2 miles and just before dawn we charged Fritz but he had cleared.

Coming up he sent a lot of gas shells along side of us and you can imagine us groping over and in shell holes. I had mask on and fell in shell hole had to lie there till nearly dawn as I was lost in NoMans Land. Found my way into NZ trenches and got on our Batt track just as they were digging in.

9 in our gun crew were wounded already had to advance another 150 yards on the right side of Messine road. What a hellish fire digging in for our lives. Had to hold for day and night heaviest barrage next day advance another 150 yards Machine Sniper. H.E. Whizz Bang in fact every kind of fire directed against us.

Fritz cleared out of his trenches we leaped them and dug in 20 yards further on.

June 9th Hung on for 1 day and night and on being relieved while stealthily creeping back some of the boys would keep moving when the flare went up and Fritz set to work with all his Artillery on us when I got some of it about 7 o’clock at night and lay all night until the stretcher bearers came and got me in the morning.

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