Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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BIRNIE, Robert Kenneth MC (1890-1956)

BIRNIE, Robert Kenneth MC (1890-1956)

R K Birnie (Prefect, 1909).

R K Birnie (Prefect, 1909).

Born at Hawthorn on 31 July 1890, he was the son of Norman Birnie and Barbara nee Irving. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School and as a day student at Geelong College from 1905 till probably 1909. His address at enrolment was listed as laurel Bank Parade, Geelong. At College, he played in the 1st Football XVIII for three years from 1907 to 1909, was a member of the 1st Cricket XI in 1909 and a School Prefect in 1909.

The Annual Reports listed him as the recipient of the following awards:
1906, 1st, Geometry, 5th Form A.
1908, 1st, Physics, 6th Form.

He went on to Ormond College, The University of Melbourne, where he graduated MBBS.
During World War I, he volunteered immediately after graduating and enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in March 1915, with the rank of Lieutenant. He was at the Training Camp at Eastbourne, until his posting to 67th Field Ambulance (22nd Division), British Expeditionary Force in France at the Western Front in September. In November he was posted to the Balkans, and was promoted Captain on 14 April 1916. On 2 March 1918 he was promoted A/Major and transferred to 66th Field Ambulance, remaining in the Balkans until 14 March 1919. He was Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted 9 March 1919, and on 3 June 1919 he was awarded the Military Cross. On 25 July 1919 he was demobilised, holding the honorary rank of Major, and returned to Australia.

He entered General Practice in Glen Iris after the war.

Robert Birnie died in 1956.

His brothers, George Alexander Birnie (1889-1979), Norman Eric Stewart Birnie (1892-1920), and John Irving Birnie (1896-1954), also attended Geelong College.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck p141 (citing J Beacham Kiddle OBE, War Services Old Melburnians 1914-1918 (1923); Pegasus; The National Archives Kew, England). Australian Doctors on the Western Front, R.Likeman).
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