Pte. T.W. Robinson

FIRST NAMES: Thomas William

UNIT: Hawkes Bay Company, Wellington Regiment (New Zealand)


STATUS: Killed in Action

DATE OF DEATH: 8th August 1915

CEMETERY OR MEMORIAL: The Chunuk Bair Memorial, Gallipoli

AGE: 21

Thomas was the elder brother of J.H Robinson whose name also appears on the Northallerton Memorial. He emigrated to Auckland, New Zealand in 1913 to join his uncle on a farm there and joined the army, in New Zealand, in December 1914. He served with the Hawkes Bay Company of the Wellington Regiment, which formed part of the famous Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs).

He fought in Gallipoli from early May 1915 and was admitted to hospital on 10th May suffering from influenza and rheumatics. He rejoined his Regiment on 3rd June 1915, and continued to endure the horrific conditions which were the hallmark of the Gallipoli campaign.

Thomas was killed, aged 21, during very heavy fighting when the New Zealanders attacked, captured and were subsequently forced to give up, a strategically important hill called Chunuk Bair.

The Wellingtons had begun the day by attacking the hill at first light and capturing the summit without much difficulty as a heavy naval bombradment had forced the Turks to retire from their shallow trenches to the reverse slope of the hill. The New Zealanders occupied the Turkish trenches on the summit and began trying to dig in on the forward slope, though the ground was too hard for proper trenches to be dug.

All through the day they came under very heavy artillery fire and it became impossible for reinfocments to reach them. They had not been able to dig adequate trenches in the hard ground and so they were terribly exposed to all kinds of shell, machine gun and rifle fire and inevitably were forced to retire from the summit into two lines of shallow trenches on the reverse slope of the hill. Their position was now desperate. The Turks had occupied the summit trenches and were continuously pressing forward, the Wellingtons were under constant fire from Turkish positions on both sides of them and to retire across the open ground behind them was to invite certain death. They held on throughout the day against numerous Turkish attacks, though by the early afternoon the forward trench was so choked with the dead that it had to be abandoned and another scratched into the rocky ground behind it.

At about 5.00 pm. the long - awaited help came in the form of an artillery bombardment from a warship just offshore. Unfortunately the shells and shrapnel burst amongst the few surviving New Zealanders causing further casualties. After all they had suffered this final tragedy was almost unbearable! Of the 760 New Zealanders who began the assault at first light, only 70 were left unhurt by the end of the day. Private Robinson's body was never found, and he is commemorated on the Chunuk Bair Memorial to the Missing.

Thomas' name was almost certainly included on the Northallerton Memorial at his parents' request so that it could join that of his younger brother who was to die of wounds on the Somme just over a year after Thomas' death.