Philip de Quetteville ROBIN

ROBIN, Philip de Quetteville

Service Number: 638
Enlisted: 24 August 1914, Morphettville, South Australia
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Norwood, South Australia, 10 August 1884
Home Town: Murray Bridge, Murray Bridge, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College and University of Adelaide, South Australia
Occupation: Accountant (Bank of Adelaide)
Died: Killed in Action, Gallipoli, Turkey, 28 April 1915, aged 30 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Adelaide University of Adelaide WW1 Honour Roll, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing, Murray Bridge Hospital Memorial Gates, St Peters All Souls Anglican Church Honour Board WW1, St Peters Heroes War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

24 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 638, 10th Infantry Battalion, Morphettville, South Australia
20 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 638, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Adelaide
20 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 638, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 638, 10th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli, KIA 27-28 April 1915

Robin family Geneology

Born: 10/8/1884 in Norwood, Adelaide, South Australia
(SA Birth Records 1842 - 1906 Book: 333 Page: 200 District: Nor.)

Father Rowland Barbenson Robin and Mother Mary Friend Whitney Robin (nee Canaway),
living at 28 Edwin Terrace, Gilberton, SA.

Mrs E C Ashwin
Dorothy Margaret Robin
(b. 3/7/1887 East Adelaide - d. ___) - SA Birth Records 1842-1906 Bk:399 Pge:486 District: Nor.
Beatirce Ruth Robin
(b. 31/10/1888 East Adelaide - d. ___) - SA Birth Records 1842-1906 Bk:427 Pge:315 District: Nor.
Mary de Quetteville Robin
(b. 14/5/1894 East Adelaide - d. ___) - SA Birth Records 1842-1906 Bk:543 Pge:406 District: Nor.
Rowland Cuthbert Robin
(b. 5/8/1898 St Peters - d.___) - SA Birth Records 1842-1906 Bk:627 Pge:14 District: Nor.

Next of kin in service - Cousins:
2180 Corporal Arthur Mervyn Robin, 7th Battalion
(KIA 29/6/1916 at Messines)
329 Sergeant Geoffrey de Quetteville Robin, 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
(KIA July 1916 at Fromelles)
Lieutenant James Keeling Robin MC, 4th Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery
(KIA February 1917)

Julieanne Ryan 2014


News of Loss

On Tuesday Mr. R. B. Robin, of Sixth Avenue, St. Peters, was officially notified of the death of his son, Lance-Corporal Philip de Quetteville ("Phil") Robin, who died recently at the Dardanelles. The first intimation of the sad news was received in Adelaide from private sources last Thursday week. Not receiving official advice, Mr. Robin sent a cable message to London, and on Tuesday, a few hours prior to being notified by the military authorities, Mr. Robin got a reply to the cablegram, stating that the news of his son's death was correct.

Lance-Corporal Robin was in his thirtieth year. He was educated at St. Peter's College, and began his business career with Messrs. G. & R. Wills and Co. Leaving that firm he entered the service of the Union Bank. He subsequently joined the Bank of Adelaide, and was transferred to the Murray Bridge branch. At the time of his enlisting in September he was accountant at Murray Bridge, and had completed about five years' service in the bank. He was admired by his friends and respected by his employers. It may truly be said that the huge war machine has claimed one of Australia's best sons. He was married in Egypt, just after the arrival of the Australian troops. His bride (Miss Nellie Honeywill, daughter of Mr. W. Honeywill, late of North Adelaide) journeyed to Egypt from London, and the marriage took place at the camp in January. Mrs. Robin then returned to England. Lance-Corporal Robin figured prominently in metropolitan and inter-State football. He was a member of the Norwood Football Club, and it is said of him that he was a true sportsman, and always played the game best in defeat. He was certainly one of the best-liked footballers on the metropolitan grounds, and his clean, manly game made him the idol of the crowds. He was a brilliant player for St. Peter's College in his younger days, and afterwards joined the Norwood B grade. He got on so well at the game that he was included in the senior team, where he played centre wing for eight years. He was one of the representatives of South Australia at Sydney and Melbourne. At the conclusion of the football season in August last year, he accompanied the Norwood team on a trip to Western Australia. On his return to South Australia he expressed his willingness to surrender his own cherished ideas of life and success for the nation's life and prosperity, and on the day following his arrival at Murray Bridge sent in his name to the military authorities.

Mr. J. Homburg (Chairman of the Mobilong District Council), in writing an appreciation of Mr. Robin, states:—"During the past two years Phil, as he was popularly called, was accountant at the Bank of Adelaide at Murray Bridge, and during his residence in the town so endeared himself to the people that his death appeals to all as a personal loss. There was no worthy effort made by the people of this town with which Mr. Robin failed to associate himself. He was a valuable citizen, just as ready to take an active part in the progress of the town as he was to take his part in the maintenance of his country's cause. Phil's was a robust character. As he was transparently honest he was esteemed by all. Not only was he an able and painstaking officer of the bank, but his exhilarating influence worked for good in every association in the town which claimed his interest. As an inter-State footballer he became a popular hero; but to those whose good fortune it was to know him intimately his sterling qualities of character far outshone the transient fame he won as an all-round athlete. The influence of his healthy and honorable character was felt by all who came in contact with him. He was a sport to the backbone, and all branches of athletics in which he engaged suffer loss through his death. In Murray Bridge he has left friends who will always cherish his memory as one of the beautiful experiences of their lives, and when, in the years to come, the great war is referred to, we shall recall with pride the name of Phil Robin. In the short span of years. which fate decreed for him he crowded a wealth of effort, and he leaves behind him an example and influence which will long remain an inspiration. To his young wife and parents we tender our deepest sympathies, but in his life and death they are doubly honored.'

Mr. R. Smeaton, manager of the Bank of Adelaide, Murray Bridge, said:— 'Phil, as he was known to his many friends, was one of the best, and the news of his death was keenly felt by every member of the bank's staff with whom he had been associated. As he was stationed with me for over two years, I, of course, knew him well, and am glad to say intimately, as we were in the happy position of being able to work harmoniously in the office, and to associate as personal friends out of business hours. It is unnecessary for me to enlarge on his outside achievements, as they are well known, but I should like to express my appreciation of him as an officer of the bank. His genial nature and thoughtfulness made him a warm favorite with the bank's customers in their dealings with him, and his keen sense of duty made him an efficient officer from the bank's point of view. He was one of the most manly men who have ever entered the service, and when the call for volunteers was made he was among the first to respond. When in time we learn the circumstances of his death I feel sure we shall hear that he died foremost in a charge, helping to make traditions for our army, and fighting for his country. A more noble death it is not possible to conceive."


Phil Robin's football Career

Phil Robin was an all-round sportsman but an exceptional Australian Rules footballer.

Phil made his league debut with Norwood in 1908, and was widely acknowledged as one of the finest wingmen in the game.  An interstate representative on seven occasions, he played in South Australia's victorious 1911 carnival.  That same year he received Norwood's best and fairest player award.

Scrupulously fair, Robin delighted fans with his electrifying dashes down the wing, weaving and dodging his way past opponents.  He was somewhat unfortunate to play during what was effectively a time of rebuilding at Norwood, but if anything this made the high quality of his football standout even more.

Best & Fairest: 1911
South Australian Games: 7
Reserves Magarey Medal: 1907

NFC Games: 71;   NFC Goals: 3 
Debut: v South Adelaide (Norwood) 2nd May 1908
Finale: v North Adelaide (Norwood) 29th August 1914

In 1909 he was chosen to play for South Australia and held his position until enlisting with the AIF in 1914.

For five years before enlisting he worked at the Bank of Adelaide as an accountant at the Murray Bridge branch.  He was held in high regard at Murray Bridge, involved in the Tennis Club and regarded as 'one of their own'.


Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Philip de Quetteville Robin (1884-1915)

Philip de Quetteville Robin was born at Norwood in 1884 and attended Saint Peter’s Collegiate School between 1897-1900. Whilst at the School he served two years in the senior cadets, was a keen student and proved to be an all round sportsman who displayed exceptional ability as an Australian Rules football player.

After leaving school, he was employed at the mercantile house of Messrs G &R Wills and Co in Adelaide and later as an accountant with the city branch of the Union Bank until taking up an appointment with the Murray Bridge branch of the Bank of Adelaide.

Philip played his first league football game for the Norwood Football Club against Port Adelaide in 1907, and the following year became a regular player and was widely acknowledged as one of the finest wingmen in the game and frequently played in interstate games.

He played in South Australia's victorious Carnival team in 1911 and that year received the Norwood football club's award for best and fairest player, which made him the earliest player on record to receive the award.

The secretary of the Norwood Football Club Mr J. J. Woods described Philip as 'an energetic player who never left anything to chance'. He said Robin’s ‘quick perception, rapid movement, and indomitable courage’ made him valuable as a player and man for both club and interstate games. Woods felt Philip was one of the most popular men ever to wear the red and blue Norwood colours and said his comments applied both on and off the field.

He was a good player when at St. Peter's College, and, after having performed well for the Norwood B, he was taken into the senior team, where he was for eight years.

One sports writer reported Robin as always scrupulously fair and his ‘electrifying dashes down the wing, weaving and dodging his way past opponents, delighted both the Redleg faithful as well as general connoisseurs of the game.’

When war broke out Philip enlisted at Morphettville on 24 August 1914 and sailed for Egypt aboard the Ascanius as a member of A Company 10th Battalion in October.  After transferring from the Prince of Wales early in the morning of the landing, Lance Corporal Robin was in the prow of one of the battalion scouts boats; their orders were simple, after getting ashore, they were to ‘go like hell for Third Ridge.

Upon reaching the shore they scrambled through the scrub and go like hell, they did, with he and Private Arthur Blackburn winding their way inland all the way to and even past Scrubby Knoll, the main objective.  This was a remarkable achievement and although they did not know it at the time, Robin and Blackburn had achieved the commander’s intent by penetrating further inland on the first day than anyone else in the entire campaign.

Lance Corporal Robin was killed within two days of the landing and although a number of documents in his service records state he was killed in action on 25 April, his ‘Little Book for Nellie’ has the last entry dated 26 April.

Almost a year after Philip’s father was notified his son had been killed in action on 25 April 1915, he wrote to Base Records to query the date of his son’s death.  Mr Robin informed the OIC that Philip’s death, ‘must have taken place on the 27th’ for by then he had received Philip’s book, which was completed up to the 26th April 1915.  A number of documents held by Robin’s family members, including this excerpt from a letter Colonel (Price-) Weir, the Commadning Officer of the Battalion, wrote to Nellie Robin on 3 May 1915 corroborate this.

It is with feelings of deepest sympathy that I have to inform you that your dear husband was killed whilst fighting in the trenches on Wednesday, April 28th. He was a brave & gallant soldier and as a scout was one of the first to rush the position held by the Turks on Sunday morning April 25th. I landed at the same time as your dear one, the Turks who occupied a hill on the beach, when we landed poured their deadly bullets into our boats before we were in water shallow enough to jump out and it is a wonder any escaped. We have been under heavy fire from the moment they sighted our boats until now 9 A.M. May 3rd. All our trenches had to be dug under heavy fire. Their shrapnel is very deadly. It was indeed unfortunate that your husband after getting through the first three awful days, should have been shot.

In a letter dated 15 August 1915, Nellie wrote to a friend of Philip’s in London to thank her for her kindness in writing to express her sympathy and said how Philip had planned to take her to London after the war to introduce them and as she was planning to visit there soon, hoped they could still meet.
"It has been such a terrible time – One couldn’t think of the worst happening when one saw all those fine fellows in Cairo -& we two, were so happy. I thought he must come back to me. And now all the joy of life has gone & each day makes the realization of one’s loss more & more keen. They all did their bit so nobly & were so brave, that it must make those who belong to them, feel they must do their best not to fail, but it is dreadfully hard to face it bravely always. He was so dear...."

Sadly, Nellie did not live see her beloved husband’s friends again for she died in childbirth in November before the Gallipoli campaign ended.

News of the' death of Mrs Irene Nellie Robin (wife of the late-Cpl Phil. Robin), who was well known and widely popular in South Australian' football circles, and her infant son at Kensington, London, was received in Adelaide by cable message on Saturday. ...

Philip Robin is listed on the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Debt of Honour register as having lost his life on 28 April 1915; he was 30 years of age.




Biography contributed

Refer to the attached biographies completed for the Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize in 2015