Cameo of the month

C A M E O  O F  T H E  M O N T H

Each month I will put on the website the story of a soldier who died during the First World War.
They are selected at random.

Oxford Road Cemtery

Captain Clement Robertson, VC
3rd Battalion The Queen’s
(Royal West Surrey Regiment), Tank Corps
Died on Thursday 4th October 1917, aged 28
Grave reference believed to be buried in III. F. 7.

Clement Robertson
Citation for the Victoria Cross, London Gazette, dated Friday 14th December 1917:
”For most conspicuous bravery in leading his Tanks in attack under heavy shell, machine-gun and rifle fire. Captain Robertson, knowing the risk of the tanks missing the way, continued to lead them on foot, guiding them carefully and patiently towards their objective although he must have known that his action would almost inevitably cost him his life. This gallant officer was killed after his objective had been reached, but his skilful leading had already ensured successful action. His utter disregard of danger and devotion to duty afford an example of outstanding valour.”

Clement was born in Maritzburg, Natal, on Friday 15th November 1889, fourth son of Major John Albert Robertson (late Royal Artillery), and Mrs Frances Octavia Caroline Robertson (née Wynne), of Struan Hill, Delgany, County Wicklow. He was educated at Haileybury College from 1904 to 1906 as a member of Colvin. Clement went up to Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated with an engineering degree. Clement went to work in Egypt. He enjoyed playing golf and was founder member of the Delgany Golf Club, County Wicklow.
Clement returned to England at the outbreak of war and joined the University and Public School Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He transferred to the Tank Corps in January 1917. From Sunday 30th September to Thursday 4th October 1917 Captain Robertson worked without a break under heavy fire preparing a route for his tanks to go into action against Reutel. Clement finished late on the night of 3rd October and at once led his tanks up to the starting point for the attack. He brought them safely up by 3.00am on 4th October and at 6.00am led them into action. The ground was very bad and heavily broken by shell fire and the road demolished for five hundred yards, from here he led them on foot.
Clement was killed, his Commanding Officer wrote: “It is impossible for me to attempt to express to you what a splendid example he has set us all. I feel his loss very deeply myself, as he was such a splendid officer, and so popular with us all, officers and men alike.”
His Victoria Cross was presented to his mother by Brigadier General C Williams, CB, in the Royal Barracks, Dublin, on 27th March 1918. The medal remains with his family.
Clement’s gravestone inscription reads: “Virtutis gloria merces.”
Private Cyril Sheldon Allen who accompanied Clement and won the Distinguished Conduct Medal. He was killed on Tuesday 20th November 1917 and is commemorated on Cambrai Memorial. Cyril had written a letter to Clement’s parents but it had not been posted. The Robertson and Allen families met at the ceremonies in Poelkapelle and the contents of the letters were shared for the first time in over ninety years.
A memorial to the Tank Corps has been placed in Poelkapelle close to the Guymener Memorial.
A memorial was erected in the parish church in Delgany, County Wicklow, with the inscription: “In memory of Captain Clement Robertson, V.C., Tank Corps, killed in action 4th October 1917. Faithful unto death.”
Clement is also commemorated at Delgany Golf Club and on the Reading Room of Trinity College.

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