CAMERON, Robert Ewen MC (1890-1959)

Modified on Wed, 21 Feb 2018 11:07 by Con — Categorized as: Biography - All, Biography - Students, Geelong College, Biography of War - World War I

CAMERON, Robert Ewen MC (1890-1959)

Robert E Cameron (Prefect 1909).

Robert E Cameron (Prefect 1909).

Robert Ewen Cameron, soldier and teacher, distinguished himself on the battlefield during World War I.

During World War I, he was working as a school teacher when he enlisted in the AIF in Adelaide on 16 February 1918, and embarked with a Special Draft of AIF Officers on HMAT A71 Nestor on 28 February for France, where he was posted to 48 Battalion.

He was awarded the Military Cross, gazetted 4 October 1918, the citation read:
'During the operations near Le Verquier on 18 September 1918, when his platoon met very strong opposition from a trench system forming portion of his Company’s objective, he led his platoon with great skill and dash, taking advantage of disused trenches, he established his Lewis Gun to give covering fire, and with the remainder of his platoon bombed up the occupied portion of trench, killing six and capturing sixty of the enemy. It was due to Lieutenant Cameron dealing so quickly with the situation that his platoon captured the position with very few casualties. Throughout the whole operation he displayed a remarkable initiative and bravery of the highest order.'

C E W Bean reported the circumstances of the day in the Official History:
'On the right, where the advance of the 1st British Division had been slower, Lt Parry of the flank company of the 48th brought up the flank troops of the 2nd Royal Sussex into the old British main line (their Mareval Trench) and then returning to his own platoon worked it round the shoulder of the spur into the valley in which the German battalion from the line was being rallied by its staff at a copse and a more distant road.

Lieutenants Cameron and Gelston with their platoons also moved over the spur, partly through a sunken road on the right - portion of the old Roman highway to le Cateau - partly further north. Their Lewis gunners, in particular Pte Rochford, dribbled into positions from which they drove these groups to shelter. Rochford caught a large number trying to move from their rallying point at the road. Cpl Price worked behind the German headquarters at the wood and bombed the dugout capturing the battalion commander, his staff, and sixty others. The remaining groups of the enemy found themselves enveloped by the several platoons and in all 187 surrendered here. (Cameron’s platoon had previously been held up on the objective by eighty Germans. Placing two Lewis guns to keep the enemy’s heads down Cameron and Pte A Dudley jumped in among them, capturing the lot and four machine-guns.)'

He returned to Australia, embarking on 28 February 1919.

In the spring of 1918, 48 Battalion played a crucial role in blocking the main road into Amiens when the Germans launched their last great offensive. When it came time for the Allies to launch their own offensive, the 48th took part in the battle of Amiens between 8 and 10 August, and the battle to seize the Hindenburg ‘outpost line’ between 18 and 20 September. This was the 48th’s last battle of the war. It disbanded on 31 March 1919. The Australian War Memorial (AWM) Collection holds a photograph taken on 17 September 1918 of ‘officers and NCOs of the 48th Battalion reconnoitring near Le Verguier, in readiness for the attack which was to take place at dawn the following day’, the group includes Lieutenants A H Lawrence; H J Burnett MC; R E Cameron MC; Sergeants W Smith, and G Seal MM; Cpl J Weir MM; and CSM C Alcorn MM and Bar.

During World War II, he enlisted (No. S68966)in Adelaide with the Citizens Military Forces (CMF).

Robert was born on the 27 October 1890, the son of James Cameron and Elizabeth nee Noble, of 'Scotia', Portarlington. At Geelong College, where he was educated from 1903 to 1909, he was a School Prefect and College Dux in his final year, 1909.

The Annual Reports list a formidable number of academic awards as follows:

1903, 1st, Boarders Scripture, Junior Division.
1903, Special prizes.
1904, Dux, Middle 4th Form.
1904, 1st, English, Middle 4th Form.
1904, 1st, History, Middle 4th Form.
1904, 1st, Geography, Middle 4th Form.
1904, 2nd, Euclid, Lower 4th Form.
1904, 1st, Latin, 3rd Form.
1904, 1st, French, Lower 4th Form.
1904, 1st, Scripture, Middle 4th Form.
1904, 1st, Boarders Scripture, Middle Division.
1905, 1st, English, Upper 4th Form.
1905, 1st, History, Upper 4th Form.
1905, 2nd, Geography, Upper 4th Form.
1905, 1st, Latin, Upper 4th Form.
1905, 2nd Greek, Upper 4th Form.
1905, 1st, French, Upper 4th Form.
1905, 1st, Scripture, Upper 4th Form.
1906, 1st, English, 5th Form A.
1906, 1st, History, 5th Form A.
1907, 1st, Greek, 5th Form.
1908, 1st, English, Honour 6th Form.
1908, 1 History Honour 6th Form.
1908, 1st, Greek, 6th Form.

His obituary in Pegasus was as follows:
'Robert Ewen Cameron died in Adelaide, SA on October 3 (1959), at the age of 68 years. As a boy at the College he capped an outstanding career by becoming Dux for 1909. After studies at Ormond he joined the staff of St Peter's College, Adelaide, which he was to serve in many capacities during the next 47 years. For a long time senior English master, he was appointed second master in 1946 and was acting Headmaster in 1945 and 1952. He won the Military Cross while serving in the AIF during World War I.'

Sources: 'Geelong Collegians at the Great War' compiled by James Affleck; pp147-8 (citing C E W Bean, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918: Vol. VI The AIF in France 1918; Australian War Memorial; Pegasus; National Archives); Pegasus December 1959 p 75.