Little is known about Robert Gardner apart from what can be gleaned from his service record. Scottish born Robert Gardner volunteered for service in the First AIF in April 1915. On enlistment he stated that he was 42 years of age, working as a coal miner and had spent 12 years with the Gordon Highlanders. Private Gardner was allotted to the 21″ Battalion which had arrived in Egypt in June 1915. The battalion had been raised as part of the newly formed 2’d Australian Division before proceeding to Gallipoli in late August.
According to the Australian War Memorial website, it was an eventful trip – the battalion’s transport being torpedoed near the island of Lemnos and had to be abandoned. The battalion finally landed at Anzac Cove on 7 September and would have a relatively quiet time there until the evacuation in December.
The 21″ Battalion arrived in France in Marsh 1916. In April it was the first Australian battalion to commence active operations on the Western Front. During the battle of Pozieres it was engaged mainly on carrying duties, but suffered its heaviest casualties of the war during the fighting around Mouquet Farm where Robert Gardner sustained shrapnel wounds to his back and groin. He was evacuated to England for treatment after which he was detached for duty with Headquarters in London, spending several months there before going Absent without Leave.
A medical board found that Private Robert Gardner was not going to be fit to return to the front anytime soon and it was decided that he should be returned home for discharge in March 1918.
Robert Gardner returned to Hobart. It would seem that he did not marry nor did he return to his previous occupation of coal miner. Towards the end of his life he was living at st. John’s Park Hospital at New Town where he died on 5 November 1944 following a stroke.