WW1 Edgar Harvey (Hervey) Robertson (28801)

Edgar Harvey Robertson [1]

Edgar Harvey (Hervey) Robertson was born 20 August 1896 in Lyttleton, Christchurch, New Zealand to John and Evelyn E Robertson.

His father John emigrated from Orkney, Scotland, as a Master Mariner and his mother, Evelyn, was the daughter of Isabella and Henry Partington, who was the brother of Charles Partington who built the windmill on Karangahape Road. Evelyn is among the pioneer women listed on the roll of honour at the Ellen Melville Pioneer Women’s Memorial Hall in central Auckland.

Subsequently the family moved to Lawrence Street, Herne Bay, Auckland. Edgar attended King’s College in Remuera in 1911 and 1912, where he won prizes for mathematics and science.  He was registered for Compulsory Military training under the Defence Act 1909 with Kings College and was a member of the College Rifles Rugby Football Club. Prior to his enlistment he was working as a clerk for L.D. Nathan, merchants. The company had been established in New Zealand in 1840 primarily to export flax and kauri gum. It later became a wholesale department store. The business divided over the years and the food side of the business became Woolworths Limited and later Countdown.

At his enlistment on 11 October 1916, at Trentham, he was described as 5ft 8 ½ inches tall, with blue eyes and dark hair. He was a Private with the 18th Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Battalion, A Company New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He sailed for Plymouth, Devon, England on 11 October 1916 arriving on 28 December 1916 on the vessel ‘Tofua’. He left for the Western Front in France on 1 February 1917. He had nine days leave in Paris 17 September 1917 to 26 September 1917 after which he re-joined his Unit, as a Lance Corporal Auckland Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion on the Western Front. The Third Battle of Ypres, 1917 was launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 November 1917. The offensive resulted in gains for the Allies but was by no means the breakthrough the British General Haig intended, and such gains as were made came at great cost in human terms.

Edgar Harvey Robertson [2]

In a series of well-prepared attacks in atrocious conditions, Canadian troops finally occupied the ruins of Passchendaele village on 6 November, at the tragic cost of 12,000 casualties. New Zealand gunners supported the Canadians in their first two attacks. The New Zealanders were withdrawn from the Passchendaele sector on 24 October, after a week under Canadian command. Edgar was killed in action on 24 October 1917 at Ypres, Belgium, aged 21.

The New Zealand Herald reported:

LANCE-CORPORAL E. H, ROBERTSON. Lance-Corporal Edgar H. Robertson, 2nd Auckland, Infantry Battalion, who was killed a few days after the battle of Bellevue Spur, was the second son of Mrs Robertson, of Lawrence Street, and the late Captain J. Robertson of the Union Company. A fine tribute to the soldier’s memory is paid by his platoon sergeant, who writes:—

“He led his section of rifle grenadiers in the Messines attack in June list, in a manner which gained for him the highest praise and he did equally well in the last attack at Ypres. Although only a lad he held the unswerving confidence of men old enough to have sons his age.” [1]

Edgar Harvey Robertson Portrait [3]

Edgar is the only New Zealander buried at Wieltje Farm Cemetery, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, Grave reference, A32. [2, 3]

He is also remembered on the

• Roll of Honour, College Rifles, Rugby Union Football & Sports Club, 33 Haast Street, Remuera, Auckland

• King’s College Roll of Honour

• Howick and Pakuranga War Memorial, Stockade Hill, Howick, Auckland, New Zealand

• Howick Roll of Honour