Jul 25, 2014

James John ROBERTS 1889 - 1968

Owen ROBERTS - my great great grandfather - married his second wife - Mary Jane LISTON - in Horsham in 1880 and they had six children.

Mary Jane ROBERTS       (1881 - 1975)
Annie Owena ROBERTS  (1883 - 1968)
Ellen Louisa ROBERTS    (1884 - 1968)
Agnes Maud ROBERTS   (1886 - 1961)

James John ROBERTS    (1889 - 1968)
Owen Thomas Gerald ROBERTS (1891 - 1984)

The children were all born around Wonwondah East and Burnt Creek area near Horsham in Victoria, Australia.

James - or Jim as he was known - was born on 8th August 1889 at Wonwondah East.

image of what the area looks like around Wonwondah East.

image of Jim ROBERTS and his brother Owen ROBERTS around 1904

By the 30 September 1916, Jim had enlisted in the AIF at Horsham and was joined to the 22nd Battalion. His service number being 6430.


image of Jim and his brother - Owen ROBERTS

He embarked Melbourne on the 23rd November 1916 on board the HMAT HORORATA arriving in England in January 1917.  The following week he was marched into the 6th Training Battalion at Larkhill.

HMAT Hororato at Port Melbourne

From July 31 1916 to November 1917 was the Battle of Passchendaele. It was also known as the Third Battle of Ypres or the The Battles of Ypres 1917. Each "phase" of the battles had it's own name. Where Jim was wounded was - I believe - "The Battle of Menin Road".

On the 18th September the Battalion was at Westhoek Ridge and the next day near by Ypres.

At 5.40am on 20 September, 1917, after 5 days of bombardment, 11 divisions of the 2nd and 5th BEF armies struck the Germans on a 13 kilometre front. The Australian 1st and 2nd Divisions, along with a Scottish Division, were the centre of the assault along Westhoek Ridge facing Glencorse Wood, with a combined front of 1,800 metres. It was the first occasion in the war in which two Australian Divisions attacked side by side. The Australians overcame enemy infantry opposition and advanced steadily for almost one kilometre to the first objective known as the "Red Line". It ran along a sunken road, the north edge of Glencorse Wood to Honnebeck swamp and bogs in the None Borsden Copse.Then on the 23rd the Battalion were at the support line moving to Dominion Area.  All part of the Battle of Ypres. On the 23rd there were 12 killed and 14 injured from the 22nd Bn.

According to Jim's Medical Report: "the casualty is classified (shell shock wounded) Blown up by shell since then he has had giddiness, short wind and shaky. Pulse increased on slight exertion

Many men suffered SHELL SHOCK, described as uncontrollable shaking, terrifying nightmares and severe convulsions were among the most devastating symptoms suffered by the many First World War soldiers.

By the end of the war, more than 80,000 men who had endured the horrors of battle were struggling  to return to normality.

Jim was returned to Australia on 12th May 1918 via the Troopship GAIKA departing from Plymouth.  He was discharged from the AIF in August 1918 with his disability being listed as "dilated action of the heart.".

Ten years later he married Olive Mary DUNN in Horsham and the following year they had a son they named Leo James ROBERTS. Leo was born on 16th June 1929 and was their only child.

24th May 1928 in Horsham

James John ROBERTS driving a cart at his farm in Brimpaen with his brother Owen ROBERTS, sister-in-law Mary-Ann GWYNN and son Leo ROBERTS at the back.

James John ROBERTS with his mother
Mary Jane LISTON and younger brother Owen ROBERTS

James John ROBERTS on the 28th July 1968, died of broncho pneumonia & fractured femur at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital at the age of 78 years.

Leo - the son of Jim Roberts - went on to marry and have four children of his own. Three sons and one daughter. Leo died on 23rd June 1991 at home - Raewood - at Brimpaen and was buried at the Brimpaen Cemetery on the 25th June 1991.

may they rest in peace


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