Year of Birth: 1895
Place of Birth: Charters Towers, Queensland
Date of Enlistment: 13 February 1917
Date and Place of Embarkation: 9 May 1917, Sydney
Ship: HMAT Port Sydney A15
Unit(s): 11th Australian Light Horse Regiment; 8 to 13 and 18 to 20 Reinforcements
Regimental Number: 2362
Died: 8 May 1918
Robert Black was born 13 November 1895 in Charters Towers the son of James Sim Black and Margaret Jane Ritchie. James and Margaret married at Herberton in 1900. His father, James passed away in Cairns 18 August 1944 and is buried in Martyn Street Cemetery. Robert had a sister Gwendoline born 17 December 1890. Gwendoline married Daniel Casey 1915 in Randwick, New South Wales.
Prior to his service in the 11th Light Horse Regiment, Robert served in the Far North Queensland Kennedy Regiment, known as the Dirty 500. Members of the Dirty 500, including Robert, landed on Thursday Island on 16 August 1914 from the troopship “Kanowna”, to take part in the capture of German New Guinea. An incident on board the “Kanowna” involving the firemen forced the immediate return of the troops to Townsville on 18 August 1914; Robert was discharged the same day.
“ He was just a red-headed, knock-about kid (Marjorie Earl)
Robert Black who was residing at Kenny Street Cairns was 21 years 4 months of age when he enlisted in the 11 Light Horse Regiment on 13 February 1917. He was born in Charters Towers and in 1917 he was working as a waterside worker at Rooney’s Wharf, Cairns. He was 5 feet 7 inches in height, weighed 131 pounds and had a fresh complexion with blue eyes and auburn hair. He was Roman Catholic. He named his father, James Black, Maria Creek, via Innisfail North Queensland as his next of kin. In his will he left all of his possessions to his aunt, Mrs Mary Kate Black, Cairns.
He embarked from Sydney on the HMAT Port Sydney on 9 May 1917 and arrived in Suez, Egypt on 20 June 1917. He proceeded to Palestine on 19 September 1917 and was wounded on 7 May 1918 when a German plane dropped a bomb in the early hours of the morning on his unit as they were sleeping. He was among the wounded moved to hospital where he died of his wounds the next day.
Robert Black is buried at the Jerusalem War Cemetery, Israel.
“ What makes him so super special for me is his last recorded words
‘Tell my mother I died bravely’
and he did too apparently as he laughed and smoked to the end (Marjorie Earl)
The First Expeditionary Force: the Thursday Island Expedition: a collection of reference documents. Denis Bird, 2015 [CDFHS Library]
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