Robinson, Robert Davidson (Rob)
No. 14821, 1st Siege Battery Ammunitions Column, Australian Army Service Corps, AIF
Died on Wednesday 6 April 1921 (aged 23)
South Brisbane Cemetery, Queensland, Australia (Gen. 2. 3A. 1L. (GRM/4*))
Robert Davidson Robinson (known as Rob) was born on 29 October 1897 in Lisbane and he was a son of James and Mary Robinson (nee Davidson).
James Robinson was a magistrate and farmer and he owned the Corn and Flax Mill at Balloo.
James and Mary Robinson (nee Davidson) had two children:
Robert Davidson (born 29 October 1897 in Lisbane)
James (born 10 December 1900 in Lisbane)
Both were baptised in Killinchy Presbyterian Church.
Mary’s parents, Robert and Jane Davidson, lived with them as did Rob’s half-brother:
Thomas (born 23 May 1885 in Killinchy)
Thomas Robinson was a son of James and Annie Jane Robinson (nee Graham) who were married on 24 December 1883 in Killincy Presbyterian Church. James Robinson from Ballybundon was a son of Thomas Robinson, a miller and farmer. Anna (Annie) Jane Graham from Killinchy was a daughter of Thomas Graham, a teacher.
Anna Jane Robinson (nee Graham) died of stomach ulceration on 18 December 1885 (aged 27). Her husband James was with her when she died.
Rob Davidson owned a motorbike and he enjoyed riding along the country roads in County Down, often with his mother in the sidecar. He was 16 years old when the war began and he wanted to enlist. In order to distract him from this idea his mother sent him out to Australia in the autumn of 1915 to stay with her brother Jim, Jim’s wife Louie and their four sons. In Australia, Rob worked as a warehouseman.
Rob Davidson tried to enlist in Australia but was rejected at his first attempt because he did not meet the minimum physical requirements for the AIF. He tried again on 2 January 1917 in Brisbane and this time he was accepted. It was noted in his attestation papers that he was 5 feet 6 inches tall with a medium complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. Around the same time, all four of his Davidson cousins in Australia enlisted – Robert, Eric, Walker and Peter.
Initially Rob Robinson was sent to the Motor Transport Unit at Enoggera Army Base near Brisbane and, after training as a Driver/Mechanic, his Unit arrived in England in late 1917 and they were stationed at the main AIF base in Salisbury. Rob went to France in February 1918 and was assigned to the 4th Motorised Transport Company. A month later, after the Germans launched a major offensive against the Allies in France, Rob was assigned to the 1st Siege Battery Ammunitions Column transporting equipment and munitions to the troops on the front line. In April 1918 Rob contracted trench fever, a disease transmitted by body lice, and he was hospitalised in Etaples before being taken to England. After four months of recuperation, including a period of leave in Killinchy, Rob re-joined his unit in France in August 1918.
Following the Armistice Rob returned to England and was stationed in Salisbury. In June 1919 he was granted home leave for his half-brother’s wedding and again during the summer to help with the flax harvest. He brought two of his Australian comrades with him.
Rob applied to be discharged in England rather than in Australia and the Australian Military Authorities required written evidence that he had guaranteed employment. Rob’s father sent a letter to confirm that this was the case but somehow the letter did not arrive and Rob’s application was turned down. In December 1919 Rob was sent back to Australia aboard the troop ship Konign Luise.
Rob suffered another relapse of trench fever and on 3 July 1920 he was honourably discharged from the AIF. He stayed with the Davidson family and was reunited with his four cousins, all of whom had survived the war. Rob established a small business as a meal and animal feed salesman but he missed his family and so he encouraged his parents to travel out to Australia to see him.
James and Mary Robinson set sail in March 1921 on a round-the-world voyage and after weeks at sea their first port of call in Australia was on 21 April at Freemantle near Perth. There they were met by a messenger bearing the news that Rob had died on 6 April 1921.
Rob Davidson Robinson was 23 when he died and he was buried in South Brisbane Cemetery, Queensland, Australia.
When James and Mary Robinson reached Queensland, they visited their son’s grave and Mary brought home a small box of mementoes – his cap and unit badges, service ribbons and buttons from his uniform along with white pebbles and dried white flowers from his grave. Most touching of all was the brooch given by the AIF to mothers whose sons were in the war. The brooch was inscribed with the words:
To women of Australia for duty done
In her diary, Mary Robinson wrote these words:
‘I will not bind my soul to grief
As though death did divide
For ‘tis as though the rose upon my garden wall
Had blossomed on the other side
Death doth hide
But not divide
Thou art but on the other side
Thou art with Christ
And Christ with me
ln Christ united still are we.’