Robert Samuel TUCKERMAN

TUCKERMAN, Robert Samuel

Service Number: 742
Enlisted: 11 March 1915, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd Pioneer Battalion
Born: White Hills, Victoria, 1882
Home Town: White Hills, Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Barman
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World War 1 Service

11 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 742, Melbourne, Victoria
10 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 742, 24th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
10 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 742, 24th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Euripides, Melbourne
30 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 742, 24th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
14 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 2nd Pioneer Battalion
29 Jun 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 742, 2nd Pioneer Battalion

Help us honour Robert Samuel Tuckerman's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Letter published in the Bendigo Advertiser on October 26, 1916.The headline read AUSTRALIANS IN BATTLE. KNOW NO FEAR.

Writing from France on 25th August to his father and mother, Mr. T. and Mrs. Tuckerman, of White Hills-road, Privates Robert and Frederick Tuckerman state:- "Things are still pretty busy on this side of the world. I don't think that it will last much longer, so keep up a good spirit, -as we may be home sooner than you expect. It is pretty rough at times, but we always manage to get through. Remember me to all the boys and inquiring friends. The guns are still booming away. They never cease pounding away at the Germans." "We have been well up amongst it lately. No doubt you have seen it in the papers by this. I can tell you the boys have done their work like old veterans. It is a won- derful sensation to go through. You know no fear when you get mixed up with shell, shrapnel and bullets, and I can tell you they are some size. The shells make a hole that you could put two room in. I have Fred with me now. I got him trans- ferred over to the battalion that I am in. He has had an experience that I don't think he realised what it was like until he got in it. It was a big thing to be in the battle of the Somme, or rather the big push. I will just give you a bit of an idea what the battlefield is like. You can just imagine what a gold rush is like, with holes just a couple of feet apart. That's what the country is like here from the shells. The, Germans had dugouts 40ft. deep. Just fancy men charging over ground like that, and a machine gun come out of one of these dugouts to greet you. I suppose you have heard people say it was like hell on earth. Well, this is like two hells, and the that wouldn't compare with it. There is a big gun that fires over us here. I think it is a 15in. When that shell goes across it is like the Bendigo express. It makes a fearful noise. I guess when it lands amongst Fritz, they wonder what it is. You see prisoners come in, and they are half silly from the bombardment. The artillery is playing a big part in this war. When you watch them on to one of Fritz's positions you should see the volumes of earth that fly when one big shell lands. If the picture of the battle of the Somme comes to Australia have a look at it. I have tried to find out where young Les Phillips is, but can find no trace of him. I suppose I will come across him one of these days. The Germans are getting full up with the game. They are only too pleased to surrender. I was living in hope of being home by Christmas, but I think that it will be longer than that now."

Another story appears in the Bendigo Advertiser on February 21, 1918 where Robert writes a letter of thank you to Mr Giles of White Hills who by sheer coincidence sends a Christmas box that ends up going to him, a fellow White Hills soldier and resident. 

NEWS OF SOLDIERS. FRITZ'S LAST REPORTS. NO DOUBT AS TO THE ISSUE.

Mr. J. H. Giles, of White Hills, last year sent away a Christmas box. By the mail to hand on Tuesday he received an acknowledgement, recipient has given Mr Giles great pleasure.

Private Robert S Tuckerman, of a Pioneer Battalion who is one of three brothers at the front, writes on 24th December:- "I received your parcel for Christmas.

The most remarkable thing is that a White Hills native got it. I received it to-day, so am writing you straight-away today to thank you most kindly for it.

The boys look forward to the mail from home, and it is some time since we received one. I can tell you I'm longing for the day when I get back home again. This is my third Christmas in the field, and am just finishing my third year of active service without a day's illness, so you can guess I have seen something of the terrible struggle. I really thought the authorities could give the original 1st and 2nd divisions a rest. I can tell you there are not too many of us left now. It only means we have to keep up the line, and some day 'you must stop one.' Our boys are in the line again now after a bit of rest after the many battles of Ypres. We are holding a quiet part of the line, but you never know when it may liven up. I really think Fritz is on his last now, but, owing to Russia letting us down, it will go on a little while longer. There is now doubt about the issue, but we must be prepared for bigger sacrifices in the near future.

We are spending this Christmas under much better circumstances. Last year we were on the Somme, up to our waists in mud. I am sorry with the referendum result. It is up to those able to come to help fight for their country, but they are not made of the right stuff"

Private Tuckerman, in conclusion, wished Mr Giles good-luck and the best of health, sent his good wishes to the White Hills people, and hoped to be home this year.

 

Robert Tuckerman served in the Second Pioneers. 

Wikipedia records the following on the Pioneer Brigades and Battalion  

Trained as infantrymen, they were also tasked with some engineer functions, with a large number of personnel possessing trade qualifications from civilian life. 

In early 1916, the Australian Army was reorganised ahead of its transfer to the Western Front in Europe. A total of five pioneer battalions were raised by the AIF at this time, with one being assigned to each of the five infantry divisions that the Australians deployed to the battlefield in France and Belgium. Tasked with digging trenches, labouring, constructing strong points and light railways, and undertaking battlefield clearance, the troops assigned to the pioneers required construction and engineering experience in addition to basic soldiering skills.

Formed from volunteers drawn from the state of Victoria, the battalion consisted of four companies, under a headquarters company.The battalion subsequently served on the Western Front from mid-1916 until the end of the war.

To identify the battalion's personnel, they were issued with a purple and white Unit Colour Patch. The colours were in common with other Australian pioneer battalions, while the diamond shape denoted that the unit was part of the 2nd Division. The battalion's first major action was fought around the Pozieres heights in late July 1916, during which it suffered over 200 casualties during a two-week period.

Despite the heavy losses at Pozieres, the pioneers subsequently took part in the Battle of Mouquet Farm in July and August 1916. The following year, after the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line, and the pioneers were committed to a series of actions aimed at attacking these defences as part of Allied efforts to follow up the Germans. This saw them take part in the fighting during the Second Battle of Bullecourt in May, and the Third Battle of Ypres later in the year. In early 1918, they helped to defend against the Spring Offensive in early 1918. In August 1918, the 2nd Pioneers supported the Allied advance during the Hundred Days Offensive, which ultimately brought about an end to the war.

Their final action came around Montbrehain amidst the Battle of St. Quentin Canal in early October 1918. In the lead up to the battle, the 2nd Pioneers carried out bridging operations over the Somme, but later they were used primarily as infantry during the assault on the village due to heavy losses amongst 2nd Division's infantry battalions earlier in the year. During the battalion, the 2nd Pioneers were moved into the line at night, taking over from an exhausted brigade, and holding their position throughout the night until relieved. Later, the pioneers joined the "mopping up operations", taking up a position to the flank of the 21st and 24th Infantry Battalions, in what historian William Westerman describes as the "most successful use of Australian pioneers in a combat capacity in the entire war". Losses in this final attack amounted to 19 killed and 87 wounded.

Shortly afterwards the Australian Corps was withdrawn from the line for rest at the behest of the Australian prime minister, Billy Hughes, and the battalion saw no further action before the armistice in November. As personnel were repatriated to Australia in drafts as part of the gradual demobilisation of the AIF, the battalion's strength dwindled until finally it was disbanded on 18 May 1919 while in the Charleroi area of Belgium.

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