From Our Contribution
|Date of Birth||23 May 1917|
|Place of Birth||Albany, Western Australia|
|Death||11 Jun 1942|
|Place of Death||Königswartha, Germany|
|Age at Enlistment||23 years|
|Description||5'6" (1.68m) tall ; ; grey eyes ; brown hair ; scar centre of forehead|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Address||Roleystone, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Mother , Mrs Minnie Una Hassett|
|Date of Enlistment||26 Jul 1940|
|Unit/Formation||2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion|
|1st Departure from Australia|
|Journey Dates||10 Feb 1941 ‒ 17 Mar 1941|
|Transport Details||HMT Aquitania Fremantle to Port Tewfik, Egypt|
|Journey Dates||10 Apr 1941 ‒ 12 Apr 1941|
|Transport Details||SS Pennland Alexandria, Egypt to Pireaus, Greece|
|Journey Dates||25 Apr 1941 ‒ 26 Apr 1941|
|Transport Details||SS Thurland Castle Megarda Greece, to Suda Bay Crete|
|Post War Details|
Died of illness 11 Jun 1942
Kelmscott War Memorial |
Roleystone Roll of Honour
WA State War Memorial
|External Monument(s)||The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial Ballarat, Victoria|
|Australian War Memorial||Australian War Memorial|
1939-45 Star |
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45
Entered Claremont camp on 26 Jul 1940 and was taken on strength by the Melville Training Depot No. 2. On 3 Sep 1940 he was transferred to the No. 1 Depot Battalion based at Northam. Basic training completed, he was then transferred on 21 Dec 1940 to the 5th reinforcement draft for the 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion. Granted pre-embarkation leave from 21 -29 Dec 1940, but soon after his return to duty he was transferred to the 13th Training Battalion on 15 Jan 1941, perhaps to await a suitable ship.
Finally on 10 Feb 1941 he embarked in Fremantle for Egypt on HMAT Aquitania, part of Convoy US9, disembarking on 17 Mar 1941. On arrival he was sent to the 19th Australian Infantry Training Battalion. On 29 Mar 1941 Robert was finally taken on strength by the 2/11th Battalion in Gaza, Palestine and posted to 'B' Company.
On 10 Apr 1941 the 2/11th Battalion embarked on SS Pennland in Alexandria harbour for Greece. The Allied forces, however, were unable to hold back the attacking Germans. The 2/11th withdrew from its initial positions at Kalabaka and remained on the move until it occupied rearguard positions at Brallos Pass a week later. It fought and slowed the Germans there on 24 April and then continued its withdrawal to Megara, where it was evacuated by sea aboard SS Thurland Castle on the night of 25 Apr 1941. The battalion landed on Crete the next day where it was subsequently deployed with the 2/1st Battalion to defend Retimo airfield, which was held tenaciously for ten days following the landing of German paratroops on 20 May. German successes elsewhere on Crete, however, made surrender inevitable. Many 2/11th soldiers attempted to escape from Crete but only a relatively small number ultimately succeeded; most were taken prisoner. On 4 Jun 1941 Robert was listed as Missing, believed to be a prisoner of war, captured in Crete. This was confirmed on 3 Nov 1941, and it was said that he was interred in Stalag VIIA at Moosburg, Germany with his POW Number being 92384. His POW records show that his capture occurred on 7 Jun 1941, so it would appear that he made considerable effort to escape after being cut off from Australian forces.
On 23 Oct 1941 he was transferred to Stalag IVA in Germany, and on 11 Jun 1942 he died at 2:00am from Pulmonary Tuberculosis of both lungs in the POW Hospital at Königswartha, Germany. Buried 13 Jun 1941 in Cemetery Blindenheimes, Germany, Row 15, Grave no 93. His death Certificate was forwarded through the International Red Cross and received 13 Oct 1942. After the war his remains were reinterred in the Berlin 1939-45 War Cemetery, Plot 11, Row M, Grave No. 15.