Robert Goldthorpe Raws was born on 26 May 1886 in Manchester, England. In 1895 the 9-year-old migrated with his family to South Australia where, like his brother John, he attended Way College and later Prince Alfred College. After the outbreak of the First World War, Raws enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at Melbourne on 8 January 1915. The 28-year-old soft goods warehouseman from Adelaide was assigned to the 23rd Infantry Battalion and in March was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Raws embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Euripides on 10 May 1915.
Raws landed at Gallipoli on 3 September 1915, having shortly before been promoted to the rank of lieutenant. The 23rd Battalion was soon manning one of the most trying parts of the Anzac front line at Lone Pine. In December Raws was evacuated from Gallipoli and by January 1916 was back in Egypt. In late January he was admitted to hospital with the mumps and returned to duty in early March. Raws was then sent with the rest of the battalion to the Western Front in France, arriving in late March. The battalion was first sent to occupy the forward trenches of the Armentières sector in northern France and then sent south to the area around Pozieres. Raws sent letters to his family at home detailing life and conditions on the Western Front, including one last letter on 22 July 1916 on the eve of the battle of Pozieres.
Raws was reported missing in action on 28 July 1916. On 12 August, a court of inquiry determined that there was insufficient evidence to conclude his fate and so he remained listed as missing. Through the use of eyewitness testimonies it was eventually concluded that Raws had been killed in action on 28 July, likely when he and several others were involved in trench digging in no man’s land. He was 30 years old. It is estimated that in the horrific fighting around Pozieres (and later Mouquet Farm) the battalion lost almost 90 per cent of its original members. Robert Goldthorpe Raws grave could not be located and so he is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France. The news of his death reached his parents in Australia on 29 August 1916, the day of their wedding anniversary.