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MacROBERTS, Andrew Hamilton (1875-1943)

MacROBERTS, Andrew Hamilton (1875-1943)

Andrew Hamilton MacRoberts, staff member and vice-principal from 1923 to 1938, was born at Branxholme in 1875, the son of James Hamilton MacRoberts and Elizabeth Sinclair nee Kirkpatrick, A H MacRoberts was educated at Scotch College and Ormond College, University of Melbourne, where he graduated MA. He commenced teaching at the Geelong College in 1904 where, with the exception of his war service between 1915 and 1919, he remained until 1938. He was noted as the teacher in charge of cricket from 1904 to 1915 and 1920 to 1922 at a time when the School was described as a ‘football school’. He himself, played cricket with the Geelong ‘A’ and Newtown teams although in later years he took up golf. He was the founding editor of Pegasus magazine from 1909 to 1915 and, on his return from the war, 1920 to 1922. He taught Senior English in his early years at the School but was better known as the Senior History teacher. He was known to many of his students as ‘Boop’. His successor as Vice-Principal was Alan T Tait.

A H MacRoberts enlisted in the AIF on 25 September 1915 as a Private (No. 4409) with 15 Battalion, aged 38. He embarked for England on 29 December on HMAT A64 Demosthenes, and served for some time there before going to France in June 1916. He was there until April 1919, except for time spent in England at an Officer Training School, where he received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant on 26th September 1917. He had transferred to 60 Battalion on 1 January 1917, serving in the 15th Brigade with Old Collegians such as Alick Allardyce, Bill Leggatt, Tom Kerr and Keith Doig. He was wounded in action on 8 August 1916.

A H MacRoberts.

A H MacRoberts.

Roy Malcolm wrote from France on 29 August: ‘During the last 'go' who should come through our dressing-station but Mr MacRoberts, who was hit with shrapnel in the arm. I offered him a cigarette but 'No thanks, Malcolm, would you mind filling my pipe?' was the reply... Norman Sadler and I fixed him up with porridge, bacon, and tea, and then we had a long chat over schooldays. He served through the campaign in France, and wrote to the Principal, quoted in Pegasus: ‘It will be like coming back to a strange place if I ever return. I am pretty certain that my only chance of getting back is to be badly wounded. I don't think it is possible to last to the end of the war. Of the forty-eight men who formed the draft in which I left Australia, thirty-two are killed or missing, six prisoners, and four returned to Australia... Lately I put in three weeks in the line, attached to the Engineers, and had a fairly good time, but was supposed to be so exhausted at the conclusion that I have been sent out for a rest to a school. The course lasts five weeks, and after that I shall go to 'Blighty' on leave for a fortnight. Of course, if Fritz becomes disagreeably active, leave may be cancelled, but I am hoping for the best... (Later) At present I am in the line and the atmosphere here is hardly conducive to literary inspiration. You might be able to make a paragraph out of the fact that we held a Public School Dinner the night before last, in a place about three miles behind the line. It was restricted to the officers of our Brigade, and there were thirty present. Colonel Norman Marshall (Scotch College) was in the chair, and there were representatives from each of the Victorian Public Schools. From Geelong College there were Captain K McK Doig, MC, Lt W W Leggatt, and Lt A Allardyce. I meant to send you a menu card with the signatures of all present, but unfortunately I have mislaid it...This is a pretty quiet front, and nothing exciting has happened so far, but as Shakespeare says, 'You never can't tell, and things may liven up at any minute’ (sic).

His older brother, Pte James Moore MacRoberts, 6 Battalion, of Branxholme and Malvern, educated at Hamilton Academy and Scotch College, was killed in action on 2 May, 1916 near Fleurbaix, aged 42, and is buried in Y Farm Military Cemetery, Bois Grenier, France, Grave 1.7. The Australian War Memorial Collection holds a group portrait of the officers of 60 Battalion, including Lt A H MacRoberts. A bequest to the School following his death enabled the construction of two class rooms at the end of the South Wing. These became known as the MacRoberts Classrooms. The MacRoberts Scorebox was also named after him.

Sources: James Affleck, Geelong Collegians at the Great War’ pp 259-260. Pegasus December 1935 p5.
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