017 – Private Athol Gordon Robinson

Private Athol Gordon Robinson Killed in action
19-22 August 1916

While Eric Robinson enjoyed an evening of musical entertainment as part of a welcome home social in 1919, no doubt thoughts also turned to his brother Athol who did not return. On 27 August 1915 Harry and Jane Robinson signed the consent form for Athol to enlist being 18 years of age.  At 5 feet 10 ½ inches and fairly stocky with fair hair and hazel eyes he might have passed as someone older than his 18 years and 8 months. On passing the medical examination and getting  through some basic training at Claremont and then Broadmeadows, he boarded the HMAT A19 Afric at Melbourne on 5 January 1916.

The 13th group of reinforcements for the 12th Battalion arrived at Suez on 11 February, not quite a week before the original 16 battalions were split in order to create the 4th and 5th Divisions.  Members of ‘A’ wing remained as the 12th Battalion, while ‘B’ Wing formed the nucleus of 52nd Battalion and were marched off. Both battalions were then re-inforced with men such as Private Athol Robinson who was one of 500 men waiting to be allotted to his new company in the 12th Battalion.

The battalion reached the shores of France at daybreak on 5 April. Late July and into August saw the men of the 3rd Brigade in action on the Somme where the 12th Battalion suffered heavy losses both at Pozieres and then at Mouquet Farm.  The farm was an important stronghold that needed to be taken and held by the allies. It had been taken and recaptured several times and it was not until late September that it finally fell into Allied hands.

On 22 September when the battalion was relieved by the 19th Battalion, it was found that the unit had lost 45 officers and men killed, 139 wounded and a further 41 missing. Among the missing was Private Athol Robinson. Despite enquiries his remains were never found and it is likely that he still lies somewhere in the fields around Mouquet Farm. A later Board of Inquiry determined that he had in fact been killed in action. His few personal possessions were later returned to his family.