St John Pine Robertson
Serial No. 7237
5th Field Artillery Brigade
St John Pine Robertson - Information
The Robertson family lived in Campbelltown between the 1860s and 1870s. John's parents, Throsby and Marie, had eight children, sadly their fifth child Lucia died in Campbelltown the year she was born, 1873. John was the youngest, born in Bindee in 1880, before the Robertsons eventually moved to the Sydney suburbs. Sadly, here, further tragedy struck the family. As John grew up, he lost his sister Ida in 1883 and brother Throsby Jr. in 1896. John had attended St Joseph's High School and then went to college becoming a woolclasser. Unimaginably, he then lost his mother when she passed away on the 3rd of April 1915. As a result, he became very close to his sister, Elsie, and her husband Dr Charles Anderson, living with them in Double Bay. That same year, John decided to enlist in the AIF, joining up at the National Park on the 8th of September 1915.
After training, John was stationed to the 5th Field Artillery Brigade as a Gunner. He was then sent overseas onboard the HMAT Persic, departing Sydney on the 18th of November 1915. Rather sweetly, John's girlfriend, Florence, met him in Melbourne when his ship stopped over. There, they decided to get married at St Patrick's Cathedral on the 22nd of November. He was forced to say goodbye to his new young bride as he was on his way to Egypt. After disembarking, John proceeded to join his brothers in arms at Gallipoli in late December, serving in the artillery. However, shortly, the Gallipoli Campaign ended, and John's unit was transported back to Egypt for further training. He was then sent to the Western Front, leaving Alexandria in mid March 1916. He fought as a Gunner with the 5th Field Artillery Brigade, throughout the devastating Somme Offensive. In early 1917, John, along with the AIF chased the Germans, following their withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line. This line, was a newly developed trench defence system. The Germans were hoping to curb troop losses by staying on the defensive, protected by deep concrete bunkers, village buildings and well placed machine guns. British High Command ordered the troops to attack the Hindenburg Line, with the Anzacs aimed at Bullecourt. If any progress was to be made by the infantry, the artillery had to pave the way, destroying defences and cut the barbed wire. Protecting their investment, the Germans fired back fiercely, targeting enemy guns. During these operations, John was killed in action near Bullecourt on the 23rd of April 1917. His mates buried him at Queant Road Cemetery.
His wife, Florence Eva Robertson, was living in the Ship Hotel on Pitt St in Sydney, when she received the news. Sadly, Florence was robbed of any precious time with John before he left the country. To make matters worse, on John's application to join the AIF, which was sent in before they were married, he had stated that his next of kin was his sister, Elsie. Florence's situation led to an investigation on behalf of the army. John's sisters very graciously confirmed their marriage, and allowed Florence to collect his war medals as something to remember him by. John was very lucky to have so many people to honour his life and memory.