The Royal New South Wales Lancers

 
 
Henry Robson A Lancer's Story
 
 

Henry Robson was born on 19 April 1867 in the Richmond River district New South Wales.

By 1888 he was a trooper in the Upper Clarence River Light Horse, NSW Cavalry.

1893 saw him as a Corporal, one of a team of 18 sent to England to take part in the Royal Military Tournament at Islington. The NSW government refused to fund the venture, 50 pounds was raised for each man by public fundraising. If we compare a Troopers pay in 1900 and 2020, £1 then is roughly equivalent $(AU)1,000 now. A lot of public support for the venture.

1899 saw Henry as a Staff Sergeant-Major in the Lismore Half Squadron of the New South Wales Lancers. He was one of the 75 chosen to go to the United Kingdom for training with British Regular Cavalry again with little NSW government financial support. The contingent left London to return home just as the Second Anglo-Boer War started.

As a result Henry was one of the first Australians to land for service in the South African war. The highest ranking NCO with Lancer Squadron he was one of 29 hastily equipped and sent to be part of Lord Methuin's force moving up the line of the Cape Town to Cairo railway to relieve Kimberley. The only horses available were "Cape Ponies", local horses entirely suited to the climate and terrain, but small. SSM Robson's height meaning he had to fold his legs up under the horse's belly to get over rough terrain. At Belmont on 23 November 1899 the "Fighting 29" were attached to the British 9th Lancers and tasked with holding a firm base to provide covering fire should the Lancers need to withdraw. The covering fire provided by SSM Robson's troop was the first recorded Australian combat engagement. Henry was then with the lancers employed to protect the Royal Horse Artillery battery at Maggersfontein. Re-joined to Lancer Squadron at Arundel near Colesberg, SSM Robson resumed his role as senior squadron NCO, serving in almost every engagement until the squadron was withdrawn in October 1900 arriving home in time for the Federation celebrations.

When Captain Charlie Cox, was promoted to Major and chosen to command the 3rd New South Wales Mounted Rifles to deploy back to South Africa in March 1901, Henry Robson volunteered to join him. Commissioned, he served from April 1901 - April 1902 in Free State and East Transvaal including Boer breakthrough at Langverwacht (24 February 1902). Returned to Australia 3 June 1902. His rank was Lieutenant.

Henry saw a total of 21 years militia service, including his time in the Boer War.

In civilian life, son of a farmer and with his own substantial holding "Wyrallah", he also worked as a Stock and Station Agent / Auctioneer. He lived in James Street, Lismore. Married to Helen. Two daughters Katie and Heather in 1914.

Henry Robson joined the AIF on 6 October 1914 at Maadi Egypt travelling there at his own expense, private commitments meant he missed-out on local enlistment. He was 47 years, 9 months of age, 186 cm tall, 73 kg. He was taken on the strength of the 6th Light Horse. The record stating he held the rank of Second Lieutenant on 9 October.

Henry was promoted Lieutenant 1 May 1915.

Made Quartermaster 6 LH on15 May 1915.

KIA 24 July 1915 at Anzac Cove Gallipoli.

Buried Shell Green Cemetery 22 December 1915 by Principal Chaplain TG Robertson. Plot 1, Row A, Grave 7.

In his time on the tournament circuit in the UK, long before his sad passing ay Gallipoli, Henry collected many trophies. *Brad Warren has the trophies, he kindly supplied us with the set of photos below.



Henry was awarded Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps including Cape Colony, Belmont, Modder River, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Orange Free State and Transvaal; King's South Africa Medal with South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902 clasps. 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.


*Brad Warren's wife Amanda was a friend of Henry's daughter Kit (Katie/Katherine) for many years prior to her passing in about 2005. Amanda was executor of Kit's estate.

John Howells 2021


New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881; Linden House, Lancer Barracks, 2 Smith Street, PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA
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