James Keeling ROBIN MC


ROBIN, James Keeling

Service Numbers: 1774, Officer
Enlisted: 5 March 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 4th Light Trench Mortar Battery
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, 21 October 1887
Home Town: Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: Prince Alfred College
Occupation: Clerk (Bank of Adelaide)
Died: Killed In Action, France, 2 February 1917, aged 29 years
Cemetery: Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs, Picardie
Memorials: Burnside District Fallen Soldiers' Memorial - Rose Park, Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Burnside & District - Fallen Soldiers Memorial Trees - Rose Park
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World War 1 Service

5 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1774, Keswick, South Australia
16 Jul 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 16th Infantry Battalion
27 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN Officer, 16th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
27 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN Officer, 16th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Benalla, Adelaide
27 Aug 1916: Honoured Military Cross, Mouquet Farm
2 Feb 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 4th Light Trench Mortar Battery

Military Cross Citation

2/Lieut. James Keeling Robin has been with the Battery since its formation in June 1916. During the organization and preliminary training of the Personnel this Officer rendered valuable assistance. The Battery first came into action as a whole, during the operations in the SOMME, and here he showed exceptional bravery and Coolness, both in the preliminary reconnaissance for positions and in the subsequent fighting of the guns. On two occasions his guns repelled an enemy bombing attack. He did yeoman service during the attacks on MOUQUET FARM, August 27th to August 30th. Throughout for days of heavy and continuous shelling his coolness and bearing had a most steadying effect on the gun crews under him.

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Biography contributed by Carly Rehbein

James Keeling Robin was an Australian soldier originally from Adelaide, South Australia. He was one of many who fought courageously in World War I. He was born to mother, Ada and father Henry on the 21st of October 1887 in St Peters, Adelaide. He grew up alongside his brother Geoffrey, who also enlisted in the First World War. Prior to enlisting, James worked as a bank manager at the Bank of Australia.

On the 5th of March 1915, at the age of 27, James Keeling Robin decided to enlist to fight alongside others. A month or so later, James was promoted to the Second Lieutenant of the 16th Infantry Battalion.

In 1917, James Keeling Robin was awarded the Military Cross. A letter from Gen. Birdwood was published in ‘The Observer’ newspaper. Gen. Birdwood congratulated and appreciated Robin’s efforts regarding his contribution to the successful organisation of the 4th Trench Mortar Battery. Gen. Birdwood praised the actions of this young soldier in this letter; “Your coolness and bravery were such a fine example to your men. Thank you so much for all your good work, and I sincerely trust that you may be spared to see this war through with us in safety.” The Military Cross is a medal awarded to those who have been recognised as soldiers who have been gallant or distinguished in conduct or service. However, James Keeling Robin was killed in action on the 3rd of February 1917 at the age of 29.

 Along with the prestigious Military Cross, James was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and the Victory Medal. His brother Sergeant Geoffrey De Quetteville Robin of the 48th Infantry Battalion was also killed in action on the 19th of July 1916. James Keeling Robin, a courageous soldier, is now buried in Guards’ Cemetery in Lesboeufs, France. He is also recognised at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia.





Lieutenant James Kenneth Robin, who has been awarded the Military Cross, is a son of Mr. Henry N. Robin, of Kensington. He is 29 years of age, and was educated at Prince Alfred College. He was employed for some time in the wool department of Messrs. Bauer, Smith, and Co., and prior to enlisting on March 11, 1915, he was an officer of the Bank of Adelaide. He received his commision while in camp, and left for the front on October 27 1915. His brother was killed on the Somme in July last." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 23 Dec 1916 (nla.gov.au)


Lieut. J. K. Robin, son of Mr. Harry Robin, of Kensington, who was awarded the Military Cross some time ago, received the following letter from Gen. Birdwood:

"Dear Robin — This is a line to congratulate you very heartily on the Military Cross which I am so glad has been awarded you for all your good work with us. I know what excellent service you have done in organizing the 4th Trench Mortar Battery since its formation in June last, when its preliminary training was so very essential. I think the battery first came into operation as a whole in our first fighting on the Somme, when you displayed so much bravery and coolness in the preliminary reconnaisance and the subsequent fighting with your guns, which on more than one occasion were responsible for repulsing the enemy's bombing attacks. I know, too, what real good work you did at Mouquet Farm between August 20 and 30, when your coolness and bravery were such a fine example to your men. Thank you so much for all your good work and I sincerely trust that you may be spared to see this war through with us in safety." - from the Adelaide Observer 10 Feb 1917 (nla.gov.au)

"ROBIN. — On the 2nd February, killed in action in France, Lieutenant James Keeling RobinM.C., son of Harry and Ann Robin, East parade, Kensington." - from the Adelaide Register 23 Feb 1917 (nla.gov.au)