Robert BLACK

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

Rank:  Trooper/Corporal

Unit(s):  11th  Australian Light Horse Regiment;  8 to 13 and 18 to 20 Reinforcements

Regimental Number:  2362

Died:  8 May 1918

 

Trooper R Black – photo courtesy Discovering Anzacs

 

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)

 

AWM – Red Cross Wounded & Missing

 

HMAT Port Sydney A15 – photo courtesy Australian National Maritime Museum

 

Northern Herald 20 June 1918 p5

 

Cairns Post 8 May 1919 p4

 

Online Resources

Queensland Birth Death & Marriage Index

NAA: B2455, Robert Black, National Archives of Australia

Australian War Memorial

Photograph of Trooper R Black, Discovering Anzacs

Photograph of HMAT Port Sydney A15, Australian National Maritime Museum

Northern Herald (Cairns), 20 June 1918 p5

Cairns Post 8 May 1919 p4

 

Other Resources

The First Expeditionary Force: the Thursday Island Expedition: a collection of reference documents. Denis Bird, 2015 [CDFHS Library]

 

If you have a photograph or further information about this soldier you would like to share and add to his biography, please contact the Society projects@cdfhs.org

One Comment

  1. My particular favourite lad from Cairns, out of all the lads I’ve researched, is Robert Black. He was just a red-headed, knock-about kid who worked as a labourer for the railways. He loved sailing and he had a great many friends judging by the send-off parties he had. He died of wounds received after a bomb dropped on his tent. 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. I have a grandson just a year or two older than Bob’s 22 years and I want to give him massive hugs every time I think of Bob. I will be remembering Bob especially on Tuesday, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba. He was not in the direct charge but he was there on the flanks. Lest We Forget.

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