The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (638) Lance Corporal Philip de Quetteville Robin, 10th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli
Accession Number AWM2016.2.116
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 25 April 2016
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (638) Lance Corporal Philip de Quetteville Robin, 10th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

638 Lance Corporal Philip de Quetteville Robin, 10th Battalion, AIF
KIA 28 April 1915
Photograph: P06433.001

Story delivered 25 April 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal Philip de Quetteville Robin.

Philip Robin was born in Norwood, Adelaide, on 10 August 1884 to Roland and Mary Robin. He was educated at St Peter’s College in Adelaide and went on to work for Messrs G. & R. Wills and Company before leaving to work for the Union Bank. He then moved to the Bank of Adelaide, later transferring to its Murray Bridge branch. There he threw himself into local life, and was described as “a valuable citizen … ready to take an active part in the progress of the town … a robust character … transparently honest [and] esteemed by all”.

However, it was in the game of Australian Rules football that Robin excelled. In 1907 he was selected to play for the great Norwood “Redlegs” club in the South Australian Football League. That year he was awarded the Magarey Medal as the league’s best and fairest in reserves, and over the next seven years he developed into one of the finest wingmen in the country. He regularly represented South Australia interstate, and was a member of the South Australian team that defeated Victoria in 1911. That year he was named Norwood’s best and fairest, and was described as “one of the best-liked footballers on the metropolitan grounds”, whose “clean, manly game made him the idol of the crowds”.

In August 1914 Robin was playing football in Western Australia when war broke out. On returning home he made his way to the Morphettville Race Course and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, having “expressed his willingness to surrender his own cherished ideas of life and success for the nation’s life and prosperity”.

Like many South Australians, Robin was posted to the 10th Battalion, joining a large number of old schoolmates from St Peter’s College. On 20 October they embarked overseas on the troopship Ascanius.

The love of Robin’s life was his childhood sweetheart, Nellie Honeywill. She, too, had volunteered for service during the war, and when the 10th Battalion reached Egypt she was working as a nurse in England. In early 1915 she travelled from London to Cairo, and the two were married at the Mena camp on Sunday 17 January in the officers’ mess of the 10th Battalion. Colonel S. Price Weir proposed a toast to the bride and groom, adding:

"we all hope that when we have defeated our enemies he will return to South Australia with his wife, to peace, long life and prosperity."

The newlyweds’ path across the parade ground to their taxi was lined with a huge crowd of cheering soldiers as men of the 10th Battalion formed an honour guard. After a short honeymoon, Nellie returned to London, and Philip to Egypt.

A photograph of nine men of the 10th battalion who shared a tent in Cairo, including Robin, is displayed beside the Pool of Reflection. Of these men, five – including Robin’s best man, Private Malcolm Teasdale Smith (bottom right at the front), and champion rower Tom Whyte (bottom left at the front), who would row one of the boats ashore on the morning of the Gallipoli landing – would not survive the war. A sixth would take his own life back in Adelaide on Remembrance Day 1922.

In the early hours of the 25th of April 1915 the men of the 10th Battalion rowed silently towards the Gallipoli shore at the place that would become known as Anzac Cove. Lance Corporal Robin was a member of the battalion’s scouting platoon, and he and Private Arthur Blackburn made their way inland to a position later known as Scrubby Knoll. Having been ordered to “go like hell”, they were the only two to reach this point, the furthest inland to be reached by any Australians. However, they were soon forced to withdraw by a large force of Turkish soldiers. Blackburn, who was awarded the Victoria Cross a year later at the bloodbath that was Pozières, described the scene on Gallipoli:

"Bullets were whizzing all around us and men were falling here and there. I rushed across the shore to the shelter of a small bank and there shed my pack and fixed my bayonet … The way our chaps went at it was a sight for the Gods … we just went straight on up the side of the cliff, pushing our way through thick scrub and often clambering up … on all fours."

Lance Corporal Robin was killed in action on 28 April. The exact manner of his death was unknown, and his body was never found. He was 30 years old.

Robin died never knowing that his wife was pregnant, and in yet another blow to the families, Nellie died on 22 November 1915 while giving birth to their son, “Robin”, who died just days later.

Philip Robin’s name is listed on the Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing on Gallipoli, and on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 others from the First World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lance Corporal Philip de Quetteville Robin, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

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