1916 August 14th………The trio are now a pair – that is George and Dan.
Photo of George and Dan with their parents at Seymour a few days before leaving Australia, the last hours with their parents,
25 October 1916 George and Dan leave Australia aboard HMAT A38 Ulysses (George and Dan would have been aboard, and I would think their parents seeing them off as well, at the spot the Spirit of Tasmania docks) on their way to war. They disembarked at Plymouth 20 December 1916
Based at Parkhouse; transferred to France via Southampton on 7 September 1917.
Another of my favourite pictures!! I was Blessed to receive the picture from Dan’s granddaughter, a happy day when this picture rightfully positioned along side his name on the Honour Roll. Dan Bowman and Marsey Barrett stand alongside George.
George was critically injured on 26 October, you can open this link to read the unit diary specifically Oct 26 known as the second battle of Passechendale. George passes away at 5.30 am on 27 October 1917
‘No dear ones stood beside him to hear his last farewell’
George is buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. George is my Great Uncle, the youngest brother of my Grandfather Horace.
His parents Emily, James and family – devastated.
Emily and James notice of thanks in the Examiner December 1917………Holt not Robinson as no one would have known who George Robinson was as it was only used of official documents.
1918 – Memorial notices first anniversary of George’s death…..again Holt.
Mary Holt – George’s Aunt Mary wife of his Uncle Johnny places a memorial, they were a close family.
God bless George.
Emita Cenotaph 25 April 2011
Lt Chris d B (RAN) delivered the following address at the dawn and mid morning service.
ANZAC Day means many things to different people. Over the years, it has grown from a small group of war widows gathering in Martin Place each year to a national day of remembrance. It has also grown from just being about the men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps to being about all men and women who have served in any of our wars, on any of our operations and who have provided support to our men and women overseas.
In World War One, Flinders and Cape Barren Islands had 79 people who enlisted to serve their Country. For such a small community, this was a significant contribution. Many of these young men, at the time that they enlisted, had visions of travel to exotic places and probably had little appreciation for the dangerous undertaking that awaited them. Charles Bean, the eminent war writer and historian, would describe these men as having “…reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.”
Not all of the men that enlisted from Flinders and Cape Barren Islands made it to the war. Private George Brown was admitted to hospital less than two weeks after enlistment and died shortly afterwards of meningitis. Private William Brown, showing enterprise and resourcefulness, entered his age as 19 and in the space for next of kin, entered orphan. His enlistment papers have a pen note in the top left corner which state that the member is discharged due to being under 18 and not being an orphan. Private Horace Robinson was discharged for medical reasons, having flat feet, a medical condition which continues to make people ineligible for service today. It can be said that these men are the lucky ones. They didn’t have to see the doctor for trench foot, they didn’t have to see the doctor for shrapnel wounds and they didn’t have to watch their mates die.
For those that did make it from Flinders and Cape Barren Islands, they went to Claremont for initial medical testing, aptitude testing and general paperwork before traveling to Melbourne. After arriving in Melbourne, a two month sea voyage awaited them, traveling to England.
This voyage would have taken them to places they would have only dreamed of. It is worth reflecting at this point in the journey what these young men were experiencing. Young single men were finding wine women and song, young men having left sweethearts behind would be using port visits to buy writing paper to send letters home. These young men would have been issued their uniforms, pack and webbing in Claremont, a surly Army Sergeant would have told them how it is over there and would have scorned their desire to fill pockets and pouches with writing materials. Let loose in a foreign port, they all now have their chance to buy just one or two comforts for the journey ahead.
About half of the young men from Flinders and Cape Barren Islands would have taken the trip to Plymouth and then spent the next six months at Parkhouse Camp. Some of the men, like Private George Collis Robinson would have arrived at Parkhouse Camp in the height of the English winter. On arriving at Parkhouse camp, the men would have been assigned a tent; rows upon rows of tents had been erected to house the vast number of soldiers that required training before going to the Western Front. For those men that were looking to see the world, they had achieved their goal; they had traveled for two months across the seas and were seeing the world – for some it would have seemed like the only way to do so – for others it would turn out to be the only time that they would do so.
The young soldiers at this point would spend up to six months training at Parkhouse Camp, learning basic military skills and tactics. A set of trenches had been established to train the young men in trench warfare and the obligatory drill square was in the centre of the camp. On completion of the training, the men were shipped off to France where they would be transported to their division.
For too many young men, this was the last sea voyage that they would ever take. Private George Robinson arrived in France on 7 Sep 1917; like most other young men, he was probably excited that his training was over and that he was finally in theatre.This would have been mixed with a healthy amount of trepidation. At Parkhouse Camp he would have heard plenty of stories about the Western Front, none that would have prepared him for the monotony, the fear, the noise or the smell that would have greeted him when he arrived in Belgium.
Private Robinson, shortly after arriving in Belgium and having been involved in some of the most monotonous and terrifying warfare in the trenches near Ypres, would be promoted to Lance Corporal. He was fatally wounded less than one month later. His remaining family were left to struggle with why their son had died so young and was it all worth it.
SGT Dan Bownam watched his friend die and continued to fight on the Western Front; eventually returning to Australia he was offered promotion to Warrant Officer Class Two. His family had to struggle to understand why he had changed so much, why he had nightmares, why loud noises made him jump and why he wouldn’t talk about the adventure he had looked forward to so much when he enlisted.
The stories of these two young men replay themselves with alarming predictability. The young life cut short is a theme that the Australian public continues to deal with today as we send bodies home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Communities continue to come together to support the grieving family and mourn the loss of a close friend, a member of the footy club or the winner of the Egg and Spoon race at the Emita Sports Day. Communities continue to come together to support the young men who are permanently disabled and communities continue to come together to support the young men who have returned home, changed forever by their experiences in war.
ANZAC Day is not just about Gallipoli, it is not just about World War One, being an ANZAC isn’t just about having been in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, it is about having “…reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.” Lance Corporal Robinson had these qualities, Sergeant Bowman had these qualities, the late Norm Mcqueen had these qualities and the veterans gathered with us today have these qualities. These are the men that we have gathered here today to remember and to honour.
LEST WE FORGET
Chris is married to Horace and George’s, Great Grand daughter and G G Niece.
I have just returned from visiting the Menin Gate. My uncle served in the Great War and was fortunate to survive so I wanted to attend the memorial service during a recent trip to Belgium. There were hundreds of wreaths at the gate but I chose to photograph the one dedicated to George Coliss Robinson. I am not sure why but I was fascinated and moved to find the story behind the name in this article. We all owe so much to those like George who gave their lives so we might enjoy ours. Thank you for publishing it. Allan Taylor
Allan this is amazing to read & thank you so very much for taking the time to comment.
A member of our family had a friend recite ‘The Ode’ at the Menin Gate Service in September then laid a beautiful wreath to the memory and sacrifice of our George.
Your uncle would have like all who returned home to their families and communities survived a living hell & yes we shall continue to remember the greatest sacrifices they all made. If I may ask, where was your uncle from?
Menin Gate, a sacred space, I was fortunate to visit in 2017 for the Armistice Day Service & spend time at Georges grave.
A number of our relatives have visited Georges grave over the years to honour his sacrifice and I’m sure many more are still to visit or return. Lest We Forget
Yes my Uncle was born in Liverpool along with most of my family and he was in the Kings Royal Rifle Corp. As I remember him he was very quiet and unassuming and never spoke about his war time experiences. I did not see much of him as we lived in the South of England and he died when I was about 20 (now 82!). The records for the KRRC were destroyed in the Second World War but my father told me he was a sniper and was awarded the Military Medal. I subsequently found a record of this but is does not give any details as to why it was a awarded so unfortunately that is all I know.