ROBINSON, Alexander John
(Service number 23/2080)
|Aliases||Enlisted as Alec John. Known as Alec or Alex|
|First Rank||Rifleman||Last Rank||Rifleman|
|Date||30 July 1893||Place of Birth||Maori Kaik, Waimate|
|Date||16 November 1915||Age||22 years 6 months|
|Address at Enlistment||34 Main Street, Palmerston North|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Emily ROBINSON (mother), 34 Main Street, Palmerston North|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 7 inches. Weight 9 stone 7 pounds. Chest measurement 30½-34¼ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes grey. Hair brown. Sight, hearing and colour vision all normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. No illness. Fit.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||4th Reinforcements 1st Battalion, E Company|
|Date||4 March 1916|
|Transport||Willochra or Tofua|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 1st Battalion, E Company|
|Campaigns||Western European (Messines)|
|Service Medals||British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||8 August 1917||Age||24 years|
|Place of Death||Ypres, Belgium, France|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Prowse Point Military Cemetery, Commines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium|
|Memorial Reference||IV. C. 12.|
|New Zealand Memorials||Palmerston North War Memorial|
Alexander John Robinson, known also as Alec John Robinson, and usually known as Alec or Alex, was the son of Alfred and Emily (née Drew) Robinson, of Palmerston North, formerly of Waimate. Alfred and Emily had married at Port Chalmers in 1882, soon after arriving in New Zealand from England. Alec was born on 30 July 1893 at the Maori Kaik, Waimate, the sixth son and eighth of thirteen children. Alec was most likely educated at the Waimate School where some of his younger siblings won awards in 1911, 1912 and 1913. Alfred, a nurseryman, and Emily resided at Waimate from 1885 until after 1914. It seems that the parents and some of the family moved north in about 1915, while some older members remained in the Waimate - Timaru area. In 1919 Alfred was at Palmerston North and by 1928 at Foxton, probably with his son Thomas. Alec was working as a farm hand at Eltham in 1914. A. Robinson and L. Robinson each promised £1 to the Waimate Patriotic Fund in August 1914. These two were probably Alec’s father or eldest brother (also called Alfred) and his brother Lawrence who also served in the War. In July 1916 brother Alf gave £1 to the Hunter Red Cross, and sold roosters for 10 shillings for the same cause, while his wife’s chocolate cake was sold for 11 shillings then resold for 10 shillings.
A. J. Robinson was one of sixteen recruits who registered at the Manawatu Patriotic Recruiting Office in mid October 1915, bringing the total number of registrations to 773, but of these only 444 were medically fit. He had previously registered for compulsory military service at Waimate. Alec John Robinson enlisted at Trentham on 16 November 1915, aged 22½ years. He was a labourer, of Church of England allegiance, single, fit and in good health. He nominated his mother Mrs A. Robinson (Mrs Emily Robinson), 34 Main Street, Palmerston North, as his next-of-kin and gave the same address for himself, although he was at the time working for a horse trainer at Awapuni. Several changes of address for his mother are recorded in his personnel file – Mangaweka, Gisborne, and finally 31 Grey Street, Palmerston North. He embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 4 March 1916 from Wellington, destined for Suez, Egypt. Leaving Port Said on 14 April 1916, he marched into Etaples, France, and joined his battalion in the Field on 29 June 1916, and then rejoined on 16 February 1917 after a time in detention. On 27 January 1917, in the Field, he was awarded 28 days Field Punishment for using improper language to his superior officer, saying “I am full up with this Company and I am going to get out. I have two elder brothers in another Battalion.” A few months later he was deprived of three days pay for being absent from parade.
Rifleman A. J. Robinson, 23/2080, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, was killed in action on 8 August 1917, at Ypres, Belgium, just 24 years old, and was buried in the Prowse Point Military Cemetery, Commines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium. Alec Robinson is one of 42 New Zealand casualties buried at Prowse Point Cemetery, which is located 1½ miles south of Messines. His name appeared in the casualty lists of many newspapers throughout the country, including the local Manawatu Times and Manawatu Standard, on or about 24 August 1917. These lists named 74 men killed in action in early August. At a meeting on 31 August 1917 the local Patriotic Society passed a resolution sympathising with the relatives of several soldiers killed in action, among them A. J. Robinson.
Three of Alec’s brothers served in World War I - Albert Victor and Lawrence who had remained in the Waimate district, and Charles Nicholas who was living in Southland at the time. His eldest brother, Alfred William James Robinson, a farmer at Kohika, Makikihi, was called up in December 1917. On 2 January 1917, Alexander John Robinson made out a short form of Will, by which he gave the whole of his property and effects to his mother, Mrs Emily Robinson, C/o Mr McGregor, Manui via Mangaweka, Main Trunk, N.Z. In November 1917 the Public Trustee duly administered the estate – Cash in Post Office Savings Bank £20. Ll war gratuity was also to be granted to his mother. Alec’s medals – British War Medal and victory Medal – were sent to Mrs E. Robinson, 31 Grey Street, Palmerston North, as were the memorial plaque and scroll. Emily Robinson died in 1937 and is buried at Palmerston North with her youngest daughter, while Alfred died in 1946 and is buried at Papakura with his son Thomas. The name of A. J. Robinson is inscribed on the Palmerston North War Memorial.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [16 February 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5550 0098848) [17 Aptil 2014]; CWGC [16 February 2014]; Find A Grave Memorial image [16 February 2014]; ancestry.com.au [16 February 2014]; WW1 Deaths - extracted by Christine Clement from the Book "The Great War - 1914-1918 - New Zealand Expeditionary Force Roll of Honour" (published 1923); Waimate Daily Advertiser, 17 August 1914, 14 July 1916, 4 December 1917, Manawatu Times, 16 October 1915, 24 & 25 August 1917, Timaru Herald, 24 August 1917, Otago Daily Times, 24 August 1917, North Otago Times, 24 August 1917, Manawatu Standard, 24 August 1917 [x 2], 1 September 1917, Evening Post, 24 August 1917, Oamaru Mail, 24 August 1917, New Zealand Herald, 24 August 1917, New Zealand Times, 24 August 1917, Manawatu Times, 24 & 25 August 1917, Rangitikei Advocate and Manawatu Argus, 25 August 1917 (Papers Past) [16 February2014; 11 January 2016; 20 & 21 November 2017]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [09 January 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs); NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [20 November 2017]; Palmerston North War Memorial image (https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/palmerston-north-war-memorial) [21 November 2017]
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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