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Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 10454 28y10m 14 Oct 1915 19 Aug 1918 4

Private William Sim Robertson (1886 - 1952)


Early life and family background

William Sim Robertson was born in Brisbane on 24 December 1886, the second son of Mure Hunter Robertson and Janet Williamson née Sim.  While he attended Brisbane Grammar School from April 1901 till April 1903, he was a member of the school cadet corps.

Enlistment and service

When he enlisted on 14 October 1915 to serve in the Australian Imperial Force in World War 1, he named his father who was the Deputy Auditor General for Queensland as next-of-kin.  William was a single man, aged 28 years 10 months and his occupation was pay master.

He trained with general reinforcements for the Army Medical Corps and embarked from Sydney on board the steamship Hawkes Bay on 20 April 1916 bound for Egypt. He boarded the troop ship Corsican from Alexandria to England for further training at Parkhouse Camp and appointment to the staff of the Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield.  In April 1917, Private Robertson was transferred to 16th Field Ambulance at Wareham and in September attended the Australian Medical Corps Training Depot at Parkhouse.

On crossing to Rouen in France in October 1917, Private W S Robertson carried out duties with 9th Field Ambulance but was in hospital himself with sickness at the close of that year.  He returned to the field but was back in hospital at Rouen in April 1918 suffering from gastritis and debility.  He was transferred to hospitals at Netley, Dartford and Weymouth but his serious medical condition made early return to Australia necessary.  He embarked on HMAT Barambah from London on 6 June 1918 and disembarked on 31 July. He was discharged from the AIF on 19 August 1918.  Private Robertson was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his services in World War 1.

Life after the war and links to Saint Andrew's

Mr W S Robertson and Miss Ella Winifred Fox were married in the Wharf Street Congregational Church on 15 October 1924. Rev George Rayner officiated. The couple lived at 49 Bank Road, Graceville and worshipped at Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in the city.

There a beautiful stained glass window was dedicated in memory of Bill’s parents in the year 1950. It depicts the Old Testament characters Boaz, Ruth and Naomi in the corn field and was donated by Bill Robertson, his older brother James and sister Anne. Unfortunately, Bill’s younger brother, Mure Robertson junior, died during the construction of the window.

Bill Robertson’s niece, now Mrs Anne Gibson (née Robertson) remembers her uncle Bill: 

“Uncle Bill was a very gentle person. He could not drive due to his war injuries. Every Sunday he and Ella would walk to Graceville train station from their house in Bank Road and travel to Central Station so they could attend the service at Saint Andrew’s.  Ella always dressed immaculately and due to the soot from the steam engines she always carried a folded piece of brown paper that she would sit on in the train.  After the service they would walk to Queen Street and catch the tram to Clayfield and then walk down Adelaide Street to Sefton Avenue and have lunch with my grandparents.  Uncle Bill and Ella would then repeat the journey in reverse to return to Graceville.  Ella’s niece Jocelyn lived with them. They both had a love of musicals and I would often attend musical films with them.”


William’s funeral was held in Brisbane on Friday 9 May 1952 and his body was cremated. Members of the Sherwood sub-branch of the Returned Sailors', Soldiers' and Airmen's Imperial Leagure of Australia (RSSAILA) were invited to attend his funeral service.  Mrs Ella Robertson lived for another 24 years.  She died in 1976.

• National Archives of Australia, World War 1 military records
• Australian War Memorial – Embarkation Roll
The Golden Book, Archives, Brisbane Grammar School
The Telegraph, 18 October 1924, page 4
The Brisbane Courier, 18 October 1924, page 22
Brisbane Telegraph, 8 May 1952, page 6
The Courier-Mail, 9 May 1952, page 12
The Queenslander, 26 February 1916, page 22
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages

Thanks are due to Mrs Anne Gibson and her son Roger who shared their family’s memories and a photograph.

Compiled by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane, April 2016 © Revised June 2016 ©



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