Ivan Cornealius ROBINSON


ROBINSON, Ivan Cornealius

Service Number: NX41369
Enlisted: 3 September 1940
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 1 Company Australian Army Service Corps
Born: Silverspur, Goondwindi, Queensland, Australia, 1 September 1913
Home Town: Inverell, Inverell, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Tractor Driver
Died: Presumed, Malaya, 11 February 1942, aged 28 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Singapore Memorial Kranji War Cemetery
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World War 2 Service

3 Sep 1939: Involvement Private, SN NX41369, 1 Company Australian Army Service Corps
3 Sep 1940: Enlisted Private
3 Sep 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SN NX41369

Ivan Cornealius Robinson 1913 - 1942

Ivan Cornealius Robinson was born 1 September 1913 in Silver Spur, Queensland where his father Claude Cornelius Hugh Robinson was working as a labourer, probably at one of the silver mines that existed there. His mother, Grace Elizabeth Sophia (Prior) was also a Queenslander. As profitable mining in the area became more difficult and mines were closing, in about 1919 the family moved to Inverell where Claude had come from and settled somewhere along Swanbrook Road, Inverell.
Ivan became a tractor driver. In 1934 he married Marjorie (Marge) Anne Rooney from Inverell. They lived for a while with Ivan’s parents on Swanbrook Road, eventually moving into their own home at 58 Bennett Street, Inverell.
When WWII came Ivan was quick to enlist, doing so in Inverell on 20 July 1940. He had his medical on the same day and he took his Oath of Enlistment in Tamworth 3 September 1940. From that point he was Private NX41369 Robinson and, for the next 5 months, he undertook training at army bases in Tamworth, Ingleburn and Dubbo, moving swiftly from 7 Recruit Reception Battalion to 3 Infantry Training Battalion and then, on 31 October, to 8 Division Provost Company of the Australian Army Service Corps (Military Police). Over the same timeframe he moved from being a Private to Lance Corporal (30 October) and to Acting Corporal (28 December). He clearly had something that caused him to stand out from other recruits.
On 2 February 1941 Ivan embarked from Sydney on HMT Queen Mary. On the day of departure he had his acting rank confirmed to Corporal. On arriving in Singapore on 18 February he was appointed to the Divisional Provost Company in Malacca, where he stayed until August, being appointed L/Sergeant with on 31 July and on 15 August he was given substantive promotion to Sergeant with detached duty at General Base Depot Malaya at Tampoi Hill, just a few miles north of the causeway to Singapore. So, in a matter of about 12 months, Ivan had risen through the ranks from Private, through L/Corporal, Corporal to Lance Sergeant and then to Sergeant. But something was not right as, on 6 October, he reverted to Private at his own request. The circumstances are not known but perhaps the increased responsibilities that would have accompanied his meteoric rise were just too much for Ivan to handle, at least without sufficient time to properly adjust at each level of promotion – which he clearly wasn’t given.
He was then assigned to No 1 Company (Supplies and Transport) AASC. This was the army's grocers in Malaya who procured, stored and distributed the consumable stores such as food and petrol. They were also the Army's “truckies” who carried troops, AASC stores and ordnance stores wherever required.
On 11 February 1942 Ivan was declared missing in action, presumed dead. The Commonwealth War Graves, his army records and Australian Memorials merely refer to this being in Singapore or Malaya. However, the date of being declared missing and his army deployment may explain the circumstances, The Battle for Singapore started on 8 February following the rapid advance of the Japanese army through Malaya during December and January. Despite the blowing up of the causeway linking Singapore to mainland Malaya, which delayed the Japanese for a week, their assault across the Johor Strait soon closed in on the mostly Australian positions defending the island and moved swiftly south along the Jurong Road towards Singapore town. In the early hours of 11 February at the Tengah airfield and on the Jurong Road the Japanese began offensive operations, with the 18th Division striking out towards the strategically important Bukit Timah, half way along the road, in the centre of the island and about 6 miles from Singapore town. Japanese supplies were running low and this was where the Allies main food and fuel supply depots were located, so there is a strong likelihood that this was also where Private Ivan Robinson was based as a member of 1 Company AASC. Success for the Japanese at Bukit Timah would make Singapore a “sitting duck” – which is what happened. It was a major battle with only lightly armed defenders fighting forces armed with tanks and, in some instances, there was no alternative but hand to hand combat. The Allied Forces launched a counter offensive the next day but were repelled and forced into retreat, leading to the surrender of Singapore on 15 February. The formal surrender of Singapore to the Japanese took place at the Ford Factory in Bukit Timah.
So, the date of Ivan’s presumed death and his deployment with 1 Company AASC strongly suggests that he fell in the Battle of Bukit Timah, or possibly at nearby Sleepy Valley (a rubber estate just west of BukitTimah) where the retreating British, Indian and Australian troops were caught in the open and suffered heavy casualties. Of 1500 men only 400 reached the 22nd Australian defensive lines. They, of course, then became prisoners of war in the infamous Changi POW Camp after the fall of Singapore 4 days later. In 1942 much of the area around Bukit Timah was rubber plantations and jungle. The Japanese left most of the allied bodies to rot where they had fallen. Some 10 months later when British POWs from Changi were finally allowed to look for bodies of their comrades only 62 were found. They were buried in 2 common graves. Today (2019) Bukit Timah is the most affluent residential area of Singapore. Except for a small Nature Reserve, nothing remains of its 1942 natural environment.
Ivan is remembered on the Singapore Memorial, column 138, which stands in Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore. On the walls of this memorial are recorded the names of 24,000+ soldiers, sailors and airmen of various races who died serving the British Crown in Malaya and neighbouring islands who have no known grave.
In Australia, Ivan is remembered on panel 84 in the Commemorative Area of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and on the Inverell Scouts WWII Roll of Honour at the Scouts Hall, Gwydir Highway, Inverell.
Ivan was posthumously awarded the:
1939/45 Star
Pacific Star
British War Medal
Australia Service Medal

His widow, Marge, remarried in 1947 to Francis (Frank) McHugh. She died Inverell January 1954 following major surgery in the previous November.

National Archives of Australia
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Australian War Memorial
Inverell Times
James Tann

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