No.418 – Trooper Robert Harrison – 10th Light Horse Regiment


Only a memory of bygone days, and a wish for a face unseen   

 

Robert Edward Harrison was born in Mt Egerton Victoria in 1883 to John and Jane Harrison. He was educated at a Victorian State School and after leaving took up work as a labourer. The family soon moved across to WA in 1902 where they took up residence Douglas Street South Fremantle and later at Mandurah Road South Fremantle.

Robert enlisted into the AIF on the 19th October 1914. He was passed as fit with the medical examiner finding him to be 5 feet & 8 ½ inches tall; weight of 10 stone 6; chest measurement of 35-37 inches; fair complexion; blue eyes and fair hair. His religious denomination was Methodist.

Like his brother, Alfred, Robert was assigned the 10th Light Horse Regiment, but was in Squadron "C" with the regimental no.418. He trained with them in WA until 17 February 1915 when they boarded the HMAT Surada in Fremantle Harbour and set sail overseas. After arriving in Egypt in March 1915 they set up camp at Mena near Cairo and commenced training. The men of the 10th would have noticed the infantry depart Egypt through March and April, and news came in at the end of April that a landing had been made on the Turkish coast at Gallipoli. The Light Horse were not involved in the landing at Anzac, however due to the high number of casualties among the infantry a decision was made to send the Light Horse as dismounted troops.

The 10th Light Horse arrived at Anzac Cove on the 19th May 1915 and after disembarking they were sent to an area near Russel’s Top. They were immediately drawn in to the fighting in and around Quinn’s Post.

On the 23rd June Robert was shot through the back with the bullet hitting his spine. He was evacuated to the hospital ship and sent to Egypt. Upon arriving at Alexandria Robert was sent to the No.1 Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis near Cairo. His condition continued to deteriorate and Robert died on 22 July 1915, almost a year before his brother John would also fall.

He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery plot B.335.

The family chose the following epitaph for Robert’s grave. "Only a memory of bygone days, and a wish for a face unseen”.

Below is a picture of his grave in more recent times, and his epitaph is discernible at the bottom of the headstone.

 

Also retained by Robert's family was the 'dead man's penny' they received many years after his death. 

 

Many thanks to Andrew Pittaway for writing and sharing this story and to Lois Wylie for these images. 


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