Robert Harold (Putt) NIMMO CBE, MID

NIMMO, Robert Harold

Service Numbers: Officer, 11, QX23797
Enlisted: 3 November 1914, Sydney, New South Wales
Last Rank: Lieutenant General
Last Unit: Staff Corps
Born: Einasleigh, Queensland, 22 November 1893
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Southport State School. Later: Royal Military College-Duntroon, Federal Capital Territory.
Occupation: Professional Soldier/Peacekeeper
Died: Died of Illness (heart attack), Rawalpindi, Pakistan, 4 January 1966, aged 72 years
Cemetery: Mount Gravatt Cemetery & Crematorium, Brisbane
Grave Location: ANZAC-1-F-344, ANZAC Lawn 1/Row F/Grave 344; buried with his Wife: Mary Dundas (nee-Page) Nimmo.
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

3 Nov 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, Sydney, New South Wales
21 Dec 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 5th Light Horse Regiment, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
21 Dec 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 5th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Persic, Sydney
19 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, Officer, 5th Light Horse Regiment, ANZAC / Gallipoli
22 Jul 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Captain, 5th Light Horse Regiment
19 Jun 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Major, 5th Light Horse Regiment

World War 2 Service

19 Sep 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Colonel, 11
19 Sep 1941: Enlisted
20 Sep 1941: Involvement QX23797
20 Sep 1941: Involvement Brigadier, QX23797
1 Feb 1945: Involvement Brigadier, QX23797, New Guinea - Huon Peninsula / Markham and Ramu Valley /Finisterre Ranges Campaigns
18 Apr 1946: Discharged Colonel, QX23797, 3 Australian Motor Brigade (HQ)

Occupation Force Japan - BCOF Service

19 Apr 1946: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Brigadier

Peacekeeping Service

1 Nov 1950: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Lieutenant General, UNMOGIP - United Nations Military Observer Group India / Pakistan
4 Jan 1966: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Lieutenant General, Staff Corps, UNMOGIP - United Nations Military Observer Group India / Pakistan

Courage under Fire - an extract from a thesis by Squadron Leader John Magro

A further example of Nimmo’s courage was on 28 June 1915 when leading his troops towards Turkish positions. During the advance one of Nimmo’s sergeants indicated to him that there were Turkish soldiers firing at other Australian troops to the north of their position. Nimmo, appreciating that the Turkish soldiers were exposed from their position in relation to his, quietly collected a dozen men, explained the situation to them and issued quick orders, then gave the signal to rise and fire five rounds of rapid fire. The Turkish soldiers became confused and quickly took cover before fighting back. The situation soon
developed into a skirmish with artillery shells and firing from an Australian warship, affecting the progress of Nimmo’s men. But Nimmo’s leadership steadied his men and again, his courage under fire was noted.

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Robert Harold Nimmo (1893-1966),

"The presence of United Nations peacekeepers throughout the world in the modern era is now a common occurrence. Fortunately, nations more often than not are agreeing to the presence of United Nations observers, peacekeepers, and sometimes, peace enforcers. Like any military operation, modern United Nations missions require credible and effective leadership in order to achieve their mandates. Australia has been privileged to have had a military officer who has held the honour of being the longest serving Chief Military Observer of a United Nations operation. His name is Lieutenant General Robert Harold
Nimmo"  extract of the preamble to a thesis by Squadron Leader John Magro - SEE LINK (

Extract below from the Australian Dictionary of Biography  SEE LINK (

Robert Harold Nimmo, soldier and peacekeeper, was born on 22 November 1893 at Oak Park station, near Einasleigh, far north Queensland, fifth of nine children of James Russel Nimmo (d.1905), a Scottish-born grazier, and his Victorian-born wife Mary Ann Eleanor, née Lethbridge. Harold—as he was known within his family—was educated in 1904-11 at The Southport School, where he won academic and sporting honours. On 7 March 1912 he entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Federal Capital Territory, in the second intake. Here he acquired the nickname 'Putt'. In November 1914 his class graduated fourteen months early for service in World War I. He was later retrospectively awarded the sword of honour as top student.

Joining the 5th Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Force, in Egypt in February 1915, Lieutenant Nimmo landed on Gallipoli as a troop commander on 20 May. He saw extensive fighting (the official history later noted his courage and leadership on 28 June). Appointed regimental adjutant, he was evacuated to Britain with enteric fever in late August. He returned to Egypt in May 1916 and served throughout the Palestine campaign in a variety of staff and squadron command appointments with the 5th Light Horse, the 1st and 2nd Light Horse brigades, and the British 160th Infantry Brigade. Rising to major in July 1917, he was mentioned in dispatches and returned to Australia in February 1919.

Nimmo resumed service in the Permanent Military Forces and from 1920 instructed at Duntroon. On 25 June 1921 at St John's Church of England, Darlinghurst, Sydney, he married Joan Margaret 'Peggy' Cunningham, from the grazing family that owned Lanyon station, A.C.T.; they had one son and one daughter. From 1925 Nimmo held staff appointments in Melbourne. He represented Australia in hockey in 1927, 1930 and 1932, and played hockey, Rugby, cricket, tennis and polo for Victoria. A lieutenant colonel at Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division, Sydney, on the outbreak of World War II, Nimmo, like most other senior cavalry officers, was kept in Australia to help develop a modern armoured capability.

In March 1940 Peggy died in a fall near Rosa Gully, north of Dover Heights. The army transferred a devastated Nimmo to Brisbane. On 10 February 1942 at the Church of All Saints, Woollahra, Sydney, he married 26-year-old Mary Dundas Page, from Queensland. They had two children. His son James, from his first marriage, was killed while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force in 1944.

Nimmo was promoted colonel in September 1941 and brigadier in January 1942. In 1942 and 1943 he commanded the 4th Cavalry Brigade, 1st Armoured Brigade and 1st Motor Brigade. In 1943-45 he was brigadier, general staff, successively of 3rd Australian Corps, 2nd Australian Army and Northern Territory Force, before commanding 4th Australian Base Area in New Guinea and serving at Headquarters, 1st Australian Army, at Lae.

At the war's end Nimmo assumed command of the 34th Infantry Brigade on Morotai, the first formation of the incipient Australian Regular Army, as it waited to take part in the occupation of Japan. In January 1946 he impressed many, including the soldiers themselves, with his calm handling of the 'Morotai incident' when troops came close to mutiny over delays and public criticism. The next month he led the brigade to Japan. Three months later he returned to Australia and was promoted major general as general officer commanding Northern Command in Brisbane. Appointed C.B.E. in 1950, he retired from the army in November.

Late that year, following Sir Owen Dixon's ultimately unsuccessful efforts at mediating a settlement in Kashmir, the United Nations had sought an Australian to serve as chief military observer of the U.N. Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan. With his broad experience and calm and resolute personality, Nimmo was chosen. He arrived in Kashmir in November 1950, and was joined three months later by his wife. Their children also spent time in Kashmir. The observer group's role was to monitor the ceasefire line between Indian and Pakistani forces, much of it in rugged mountains. Nimmo acquired a reputation as a hard-working and efficient administrator. He was an ideal military observer, 'a model of firmness, tact, and silence', as one onlooker wrote. He regularly visited local commanders along the line. He also earned the parties' respect with his sporting prowess, playing polo into his sixties.

With dark hair and a trim moustache, Nimmo was remembered by one who served under him in 1945-46 as a handsome officer of compact stature, unflappable and popular. In 1954, at the United Nations' suggestion, Nimmo was promoted honorary lieutenant general. He led U.N.M.O.G.I.P. until his death, the longest ever command of a United Nations operation. Following the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, he also raised and initially commanded the U.N. India-Pakistan Observation Mission outside Kashmir. Nimmo died in his sleep, of a heart attack, on 4 January 1966 at Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and was buried in the Anzac section of Mount Gravatt cemetery, Brisbane, with full military and U.N. honours; senior representatives of both India and Pakistan attended his funeral. His wife and their son and daughter, and the daughter of his first marriage, survived him.

Father of Pilot Officer James Andrew Harold Nimmo (/explore/people/641502) who died in air combat operations over Denmark in 1944