No 490 Private Colin Ernest Robertson
Colin Ernest Robertson was born in 1891 at Pyramid Hill, around 250kms north of Melbourne on Victoria’s northern plains. When war broke out in August 1914, his parents – Henry and Florence Robertson – were living at Wodonga where his father was the local station master.
Colin was working at the Commercial Bank in Shepparton as a bank clerk at the time of his enlistment on 25 August 1914, aged 23. His enlistment papers show that he had been a member of both the Werribee and Shepparton Rifle Clubs pre-war.
He was assigned to D Company, 7th Battalion – one of the first battalions raised in Victoria after war was declared by the legendary Lieutenant Colonel Harold Edward Elliott…known universally by the men in his command as "Pompey" Elliott. A soldier who had served and was decorated for bravery in the Boer War, a lawyer and a politician after the war, Elliott was a fierce protector of his men and a scourge to his often British superiors who were prepared to sacrifice his soldiers in wasteful 'stunts' – especially on the Western Front.
Following a brief period of training, the Battalion sailed for Alexandria in Egypt just two months after formation, arriving in early December. A period of intense training followed where the men were moulded into an effective fighting force that was to prove its worth not just at Gallipoli in April 1915, but throughout the war. The 7th Battalion formed part of the second wave of landings at ANZAC on 25 April – a campaign that was to cost it a third of its strength.
According to subsequent reports, Private Colin Robertson became separated from members of his platoon shortly after the landing – not an uncommon occurrence on that dreadful day. He found himself fighting with a group of New Zealanders close to what became known as Courtney’s Post. He was killed instantly with gunshot wounds to the head and chest on the opening day of the campaign, aged just 23.
Private Colin Ernest Robertson is remembered with honour at the Lone Pine Memorial on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Colin’s brother, Ivan Vallance Robertson, joined the AIF just after the war ended in December 1918 aged 21. He had spent the previous four years at the Royal Military College at Duntroon, graduating as a Lieutenant. He was demobilised from the army in England in 1919 and joined the Royal Artillery as an officer, based at Woolwich before returning to Australia in 1920.
Medals and Entitlements
[received by his parents - now living in Melbourne]
- 1914/15 Star
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
- King’s Message,
- Memorial scroll and Plaque
Service record citation: NAA: B2455, ROBERTSON COLIN ERNEST
7th Battalion history and war diary - Australian War Memorial