Clement Robertson

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa

General information

last known residence:
Struan Hill, Delgany, County Wicklow, Ireland, United Kingdom

Army information

British Expeditionary Force
 —  Tank Corps, 1st Bn.  (Attached)
 —  Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment), 3rd Bn. (Reserve)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Reutel, Beselare, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Oxford Road Cemetery
Plot: III
Row: F
Grave: 7

Distinctions and medals 3

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Last known residence
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

Clement was born in November 1889 in Pietermaritzburg, Natal, in South-Africa. He was brought up in a Irish military family. His father, John Albert Robertson, was a Major in the Royal Artillery, hailing from Delgany, in County Wicklow. His mother, Frances Octavia Caroline Wynne, was the daughter of an Army Captain, from Dublin.

Clement was educated at Trinity College in Dublin, where he obtained a degree in Engineering. After his studies he worked as an engineer, specialized in waterworks, in Egypt. When the War broke out, Clement went back to England, where he joined the University and Public Schools Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He was gazetted Second Lieutenant an joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), serving in France and Flanders from May 1915. In January 1917, Clement was appointed as an Acting Captain to the Tank Corps.

On 4 October 1917 No. 12 section of the 1st Battalion of the Tank Corps was allotted to the 54th Infantry Brigade of the 21st Division, for the attack on Juniper Wood and the hamlet of Reutel, east of the infamous Polygon Wood.

From September 30th till October 4th Captain Clement Robertson worked without a break. He and his orderly, Gunner Cyril Sheldon Allen, taped the route from Observatory Ridge to Stirling Castle and then to Black Watch Corner, under heavy shell fire. He managed to direct his Tanks to the frontline, under very trying circumstances.

Four Tanks of No. 12 section set off from Black Watch Corner. One Tank was taken out three minutes after leaving the jump off point, by a German shell. The three other tanks followed the road by the side of Polygon Wood. Limited visibility combined with the lack of landmarks in the destitute landscape made it very difficult for the Tanks to find their way. Captain Robertson, well aware of this risk, guided the tanks on foot towards Cameron Covert and the Joist Farm area, where the Infantry had been held up. He continued to guide his tanks to their objectives, despite the fact that the Tanks drew heavy German fire.

Thanks to Captain Robertson all three Tanks got to their objectives. They rendered great assistance to the Infantry, taking out fortified German positions, who held up the advance. The Tanks of No. 12 Section were vital for the success of the attack.

Captain Clement Robertson, just 27 years old, was killed by machine-gun fire, while leading his Tanks with the first wave of Infantry. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, for most conspicuous bravery, in leading his tanks, under heavy shell, machine-gun and rifle fire, over ground which had been heavily ploughed by shell fire. Clement is believed to be buried in Oxford Road Cemetery, in the hamlet of Wieltje.

Files 3

Sources 4

4 Brigade Tank Corps: 1 Battalion Tank Corps (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), WO 95/109/4).
Sources used
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901 (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), RG13).
Sources used
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911 (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), RG14).
Sources used
Melville Henry Massue, de Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, 1914-1919: a Biographical Record of All Members of His Majesty's Naval and Military Forces Who Have Fallen in the War (Uckfield, Naval & Military Press, 2010), 3: 233.
Sources used

More information 3