The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Lieutenant Henry Robson

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: Henry (Harry) Robson

Ancestor's date of birth: 19/04/1867

Ancestor's date of death: 24/07/1915

Cause of Death: Killed in action at Gallipoli while serving with the 6th Light Horse Regiment.

Service and Life Before the Boer War: Dairy Farmer - 1888 joined Coraki detachment of the Upper Clarence Light Horse. 1892 transferred to Lismore. 1893 Member NSW Cavalry team to England. 1899 SSM Lancer Aldershot Squadron.

Service Number: 303

Colony or State of enlistment: NSW, Place of Enlistment: Corakai

Unit: New South Wales Lancers and 3rd New South Wales Mounted Rifles

Rank attained in Boer War: LT, Date Effective: 01/03/1901

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): LT, Date Effective: 28/10/1914

Murray Page: 10, 125

Contingent: First and Fifth New South Wales

Ship: SS Nineveh, Date of Sailing: 09/10/1899 (from the UK)

Ship: Maplemore, Date of Sailing: 17/03/1901

Memorial details: Shell Green Cemetery Gallipoli, NSW Lancers' Museum Parramatta, Australian War Memorial Canberra

Awards/Decorations/Commendations: Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps including Cape Colony, Belmont, Modder River, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Orange Free State and Transvaal; King's South Africa Medal with South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902 clasps. 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Personal Characteristics: Height 186 cm, weight 76 kg of fair complexion with black hair and hazel eyes.

Reasons to go and fight: A serving Lancer.

Details of service in war: A legendary figure. One of the best trained Australian soldiers to go to the Boer War; having served in the New South Wales Cavalry then New South Wales Lancers since 1888, topping this off with six months training with British regular cavalry. He was one of the first Australians to land for service in the South African war. The highest ranking NCO with Lancer Squadron he was one of 29 hastily equipped and sent to be part of Lord Methuin's force moving up the line of the Cape Town to Cairo railway to releive Kimberley. The only horses available were "Cape Ponies", local horses entirely suited to the climate and terrain, but small. SSM Robson's height meaning he had to fold his legs up under the horse's belly to get over rough terrain. At Belmont on 23 November 1899 the "Fighting 29" were attached to the 9th Lancers and tasked with holding a firm base to provide covering fire should the Lancers need to withdraw. The covering fire provided by SSM Robson's troop was the first recorded Australian combat engagement. Henry was then with the lancers employed to protect the Royal Horse Artillery battery at Maggersfontein. Re-jouned to Lancer Squadron at Arundel near Colesberg, SSM Robson resumed his role as senior squadron NCO, serving in almost every engagement until the squadron was withdrawn in October arriving home it time for the Federation celebrations. When Captain Charlie Cox, was promoted to Major and chosen to command the 3rd New South Wales Mounted Rifles to deploy back to South Africa in March 1901, Henry Robson volunteered to join him. Commissioned, he served from April 1901 - April 1902 in Free State and East Transvaal including Boer breakthrough at Langverwacht (24 February 1902). Returned to Australia 3 June 1902.

Service and life after the Boer War: He returned after the Boer War to his farm at Wyrallah, near Lismore, NSW to his parents and siblings. In 1914 he owned 160 hectares, 240 cattle and 3 horses as listed in Sands Directory. He married Helen and had two daughters Katie and Heather. He was well known in the Lismore area working as a stock and Station Agent and Auctioneer. He was commissioned into the AIF on 28 October 1914, joining his old CO Charlie Cox who had been given command of the 6th Light Horse. Henry was appointed regimental quartermaster when the unit landed at Gallipoli on 15 May 1915, he was killed in action ANZAC Cove 24 July 1915. He was buried at Shell Green cemetery plot 1 row A grave 7.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: June Lawrence Shaw (nee Robson), Caloundra QLD
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Neice


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RUSI of NSW Boer War Battlefields