Edward Roberts MM
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Edward Arthur Roberts MM (1893 - 1966)

Edward Arthur "Ted" Roberts MM
Born in Parkstone, Dorset, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 13 Aug 1917 in Gulgong, New South Wales, Australiamap
Husband of — married 24 Feb 1922 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australiamap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 73 in Concord, New South Wales, Australiamap
Problems/Questions Profile manager: Veronica Williams private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 18 Aug 2013
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Flag of Dorset (St Wite's Cross, adopted 2008)
Edward Roberts MM was born in Dorset, England.
Flag of England
Edward Roberts MM migrated from England to Australia in 1910.
Flag of Australia in 1910

Edward Roberts MM is an Anzac who served in World War One.
Edward Roberts MM was awarded the Military Medal (Imperial Award), Australia.

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Edward Arthur ROBERTS.[1] [2]

Better known as E.A. Roberts, or just 'Ted', a migrant to Australia from England, he arrived in Australia in 1910 aged 17. Only a few years after his arrival he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces and saw active service in World War I including the landing at Gallipoli, the Battle of Lone Pine and France. He was wounded on two occasions. Ted was one of the first to receive the Military Medal at Gallipoli and was mentioned in dispatches twice.

After the war he gained prominence as a tireless worker for the rights of veterans in his role as Pensions Officer for the Legal Service Bureau and as acting President of the Returned Services League. He was married with seven children and was given a State Funeral upon his death in 1966.

Early life

Edward was born in Parkstone, Dorset on 27 March 1893, to parents Edward and Maud (Abigail nee Courtney) ROBERTS. The birth was registered on 5th May 1893, by Abigail ROBERTS as informant. Edward was baptised at St Peters Anglican Church at Parkstone, Dorset, England on 23 April 1893.[3][4][5]

By 1901, aged 8, he is found living with his parents and younger brother James at Cranbrook Road, Branksome, Dorset, England.[6]

In his memoirs Ted Roberts said when my 'Seven Little Australians' asked me where I was born, in an evasive reply I said under the greenwood tree. This reply was actuated by many reasons one being that I often had in my mind readings of the work of my COUNTY man Thomas Hardy of Dorset and in particular his best book Under the Greenwood Tree, because it was easily understood by me.

Ted says he attended a church school and spent a few with William Barnes, that superman, the great poet, grammarian, mathematician, linguist and teacher; a man in advance of his time. Ted says he did receive education and goes on to say William Barnes, the Dorset poet was largely responsible for the retention of my mind of the pleasures of the days of innocence where pragmatism gave way to pessimism and its accompanying doubt. (As Barnes died in 1886; we can only assume he was referring to the text used in the school). It was well known that Ted never received much formal education and didn't finish school, which was a tragedy given his obvious intelligence. His lack of formal education clearly forming his view in later life that all his children should be educated, including the girls who went on to undertake the Leaving Certificate, which was considered quite unusual at that time.

It is believed that he inherited his love of reading from his mother Abigail.

Ted in his memoirs describes his little sister Elsie as she of the dark tresses. Ted remembers as a little chap being with his father when he carried the coffin of his little sister to the churchyard and comments we were poor indeed in those days.’’ A cutting from Elsie's hair was enclosed in a locket and worn by his mother Abigail until her death. The church (probably St Mary the Virgin) was about 11 miles from their home, near Wareham and Corfe Castle. Corfe Castle is now a picturesque ruin.

Of England he says I have never desired that the gate be shut upon those memories of the land that gave me birth and endowed me with some virtues or at least an ability to appreciate the difference between heroism and cowardice - virtue and vice.

Emigration to Australia

Edward emigrated to Australia with his mother and father and younger brother James. They sailed from London on 14th September 1910 on the SS ORSOVA and were on route for Brisbane.[7] They arrived in Brisbane on 31st October 1910, having stopped in Sydney on the way. On the voyage to Australia he says in his memoirs it was not possible, of course, but I asked my father on the Australian bound ship if the captain could put in for a day or so at St Helena so that we could see the tomb of ???? (Various things are crossed out, my maternal grandmothers, my great aunt, an aunt of my father). It is still not clear to whom he was referring.[8]

Ted and his father first viewed the City of Sydney in 1910 standing near the Central Station, we viewed the teaming city and my father, perhaps thinking of Dorchester, the county market town said 'my boy, it must be market day' by the size of the crowds.

SS Orsova

Ted says that I shall remember until I pass to Fields Elysian, here's hoping that I do, those carefree days in Queensland, when we were young and free, young enough to appreciate fully the time spent in the open spaces in the bush away from the usual way of life, which in youth can be monotonous. He goes on to say delinquency amongst the youth of the present generation is largely due to monotony of life and unfulfillment of the desire to do things assumed of an adventurous nature. He spent his days in the company of Len, Harold (of Irish and German descent) and Bill (from a large family with parents from Yorkshire, who had one sister who was a champion swimmer was born in England and called the 'new chum'). All three of these boys were Australians and Ted says they spent their spare days in the bush and in their sailing boat. They all became members of a junior Australian Rules team although they had the advantage of receiving tuition from a former famous rules player, Ted was the one who made the least progress. Ted also recalled a grim story of a young Dorset woman, she died in the West of Queensland, leaving behind a husband and three children there was no church yard and no stone to mark her burial (the place is not mentioned), her body put into the ground, over which the cat strayed.[9]

Ted says he remembers the house where he was born, but also remembers another 'house' in a former gold mining town in Queensland where they spent their first Christmas day in Australia.[10] It was a shed built of galvanised iron. This day was seasonable for Australia with the temperature soaring above the 100 degree mark. My father said we must grin and bear it with the help of suitable refreshment, he found the refreshment, we had not yet reached that stage. It was here Ted says he learned the true meaning of the words of the 'colonial fever' (not inclined to work). The town blacksmith said his son did not help much with blacksmithing because he was a sufferer from colonial fever. Ted must have taken a fancy to this phrase as he was later known to tell his own children (only the boys) that they suffered from that disease!

Could this town be similar to where they were?

Of his early days in Queensland he says I first became impressed with the politeness of the bushmen towards women - the raising of hats at the approach of members of the gentler sex. He enquired the reason for this because in his childhood such homage was certainly not universal in England. His father said many of the 'so called' wild colonials had in their veins good blood and the idea of their forebears being just convicts was insupportable.

World War 1

Whilst newly arrived from England, when World War 1 broke out Ted enlisted at Liverpool, NSW, in the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) on 25th November 1914 stating his age to be 21 years and 7 months. He initially served in the 2nd regiment, 2nd Battalion, Infantry, AIF Regimental number 1413. His height stated as 5' 9", weight 10 stone 5 pounds, chest measurement 33.5-36 inches. His complexion was noted as dark, eyes blue, hair black, and religious denomination Church of England. He was noted as having a scar on his right cheek.

On enlistment, aged 20

Edward sailed from Devonport England, on 'Oriana" on 15th January 1915 to Alexandria, Egypt with his unit AIF 2nd Regiment, 2nd Battalion.[11]

AIF 2nd Regiment, 2nd Battalion

He was subsequently transferred to Gallipoli on 3rd April 1915 and was present at the landing on Anzac Cove and the subsequent Battle of Lone Pine where he was wounded.

Ted was one of the first members of the AIF in WWI to be awarded the military medal. Notes in the National Archives papers indicate the award was for events on 26th April 1915 at the Anzac Landing. On the 6th July 1915 he was officially transferred to the stretcher bearer unit at Gallipoli.

Edward was wounded on 8th August 1915 and subsequently transferred to a hospital in Alexandria, Egypt on 13th August. He was later transferred to Stamford Street, King George Hospital in England on 13 Sep 1915. He rejoined his unit in Gallipoli on 16 Jan 1916. He received special mention for acts of conspicuous gallantry in orders dated 16 Feb 1916, for services during period 25th April to 22nd September 1915.

On 28 March 1916 he sailed from Alexandria on 'Invernia' to Marseilles, France. He was appointed Lance Corporal on 17 July 1916. He was again wounded in action (second occasion, shrapnel) on 23 July 1916 and subsequently admitted to hospital on 24 July 1916 at Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France. It was during his time on the battlefields in France that he wrote his poem I ask you death which was later published in the Reville magazine in 1936.

I ask you Death
When thou shalt visit me
Come, swiftly, silently,
To speed my soul to sweet tranquillity
Come not ye then with movement
Torturing and slow
But touch me once with soothing hands
And bid me go to take my place at last
I'll face my God without timidity.
Thus be it unto one who faileth yet to see
That the Creator for the creature
Doth not accept responsibility.

I ask you death, published in Reville Magazine 1936

As an invalid, he was then transferred Greylingwell War Hospital, Chichester, England on 29 July 1916. It is believed he visited his grandmother, Mrs Courtney at Bournemouth around this time.

He returned to Australia, on "Karoola' on 2 December 1916 and was later discharged as medically unfit on 15 March 1917.

On 20 August 1920 he received 2 oak leaves indicating that he had been mentioned in dispatches by a Commander in the Field. London gazette - certificate No 29354/5380. He also received the following campaign medals; 1914/15 STAR no. 5938, British War medal no. 10246 and the Victory medal no. 10057.

There was some delay in gaining official recognition regarding the Military Medal with lengthy correspondence in the file, pursued by several letters from his mother Abigail. He wrote again himself about the Military Medal on 24 July 1954, the reply saying there was no record of deeds, again in 1957, with the same reply.

Research undertaken by son-in-law Lionel Gilbert in 1995 found that documents held by the National Archives indicated Private Edward (Albert) Roberts was recommended for the military medal on 3rd August 1915 along with Stanley Frazien Carpenter relating to events on 26 April 1915 at the Anzac Landing. The dispatch which was unsigned reads:-

These two stretcher bearers on the 26th April went along the beach under heavy fire to rescue wounded men of other units who had been lying in a stranded boat near the 'Fishermans Hut' for over 30 hours. All the occupants of the boat had been killed or wounded by machine gun or shrapnel fire.
These stretcher bearers rescued four wounded men although under heavy fire while going to the boat, taking the wounded out and returning.

The records show a second copy of the dispatch (type written) as signed by Sir Henry George Chauvel (1865-1845) who landed at Gallipoli on 12 May 1915. This copy is signed in pencil and dated 8th Dec 1915. Brigadier General H.G. Chauvel took command of the 1st Division on 6th November 1915 and led it through the evacuation in December.

There was an error in the original dispatch which referenced service number 1615, when it should have read 1413. This may have been the reason for the delay and errors perpetuated in communications for many years. The records at the Australian War Memorial now reflect his honours and awards accurately.

During WW2 Ted was interviewed on the radio program Masquerido talking about stretchers bearers in WW1, interestingly enough he refers to Simpson and his donkey as 'one of the best'. It was however well known that he would comment privately that Simpson often got in the way and other stretcher bearers were able to save many more in the equivalent timeframe.

Whilst he didn't talk much about his experiences during the war, he was known to be critical of the English during the campaign (re decisions that impacted the Australian Forces), but never seemed to be critical of the Turks. He often commented a bonny fighter, the Turk.

On a visit to Gallipoli in 2013 by Ted's granddaughter Veronica the following photo was on the information board describing the work of stretcher bearers, referenced as being from the National Archives of Australia collection. Veronica thought the image of the front stretcher bearer bore a remarkable resemblance to her grandfather. Enquiries with the NAA were unable to provide any further details about the photo, other than it was taken in the general timeframe when Ted was there. His two daughters agreed, Joan commented I'd recognise his knees anywhere and her sister Mary said that's the way he wore his hat!

Stretchers Bearers at Gallipoli

We will never know if it is really him, but it does help us gain insight into the conditions of the time.

Personal Life

On discharge he received a three pound per week pension from 17 Mar 1917, initially residing with his parents at "Corinda', West Kogarah, New South Wales.

He received 60 shillings per fortnight thereafter, a reduction to 30 shillings from 25 Oct 1917 when he married Flora MacDonald in Gulgong, NSW on 13th August 1917.[12] An additional 30 shillings per fortnight was granted to Flora after they were married. The couple living at 'Argyle' Tunks Street, Bay Rd, North Sydney, New South Wales. Sadly, Flora died the following year of peritonitus following a difficult labour of 3 days.[13]

By 1918, Ted is living at 'Roxborough', Tessa Street, Chatswood, New South Wales.

It is not clear when he first met his future wife Mona Murphy, however it is understood that he may have become acquainted with her through work as she was a stenographer. Family stories suggest a social event was being planned by Mona's mother Rebecca who was concerned there were not enough men attending to be dancing partners. Mona suggested 'Mr Roberts' be invited considering him a possibly suitable match for her sister May. Ted clearly had other ideas.

Ted married Mona Veronica Murphy at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney on 22 February 1922 converting his religion to Roman Catholic.[14] At that time he was living with his parents at Blacktown, New South Wales.

The couple went on to have 7 children who he referred to as his Seven Little Australians. Whilst he was an Englishman himself, he was proudly Australian. He was always known to be very anxious at the time of birth all his children, no doubt due to the death in childbirth of his first wife, Flora; a fact that was not known by many until after his death in 1966.

The couple resided initially at 421 Penshurst Street, Chatswood, North Sydney, New South Wales (1930), then later took a house at 56 St David's Road, Haberfield, NSW, before moving to a semi detached house at 42 Rawson Street Haberfield.[15]

They applied for a war service homes loan in September 1949 finally purchasing their own family home at 38 Rawson Street, Haberfield after renting for many years.

Edward and Mona and the 7 Little Australians

Working Life

When Ted enlisted in the AIF in 1914 he described his occupation as a sugar worker. It is understood that during his first years in Queensland he worked as a cane cutter.

Most records reflect his occupation as being a clerk. One record indicating he worked for the Repatriation Department in Chalmers Street, Sydney in 1920.

After the war he joined the Public Service and was appointed as a pensions advocate at the Legal Service bureau. He was later appointed as a Legal Officer, without legal qualifications which was highly unusual at the time, particularly given his lack of any school education. He is noted as having corrected Doc Evatt on a question of law and is mentioned in Dr Evatt's book.[16]

Ted was active in the RSL and was Acting President of the NSW RSL for some time. [17] At the time there was support for him to stand as an MP for the Australian Labour Party but his wife Mona warned against it, saying no Ted, politics is a dirty game.

In 1954 Edward and his wife Mona were invited to have the honour of meeting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, at a garden party given by The Governor and Miss Northcott held on Thursday 18th February 1954, at Government House at 3pm. Again, in 1958 they were invited to have the honour of meeting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, at a garden party given by The Governor and Lady Woodward held on Tuesday 25th February 1958, also held at Government House at 3pm.

Invitation to meet Queen Elizabeth II, 1954
Invitation to meet the Queen Mother, 1958

Death and Burial

Ted died on 1st July 1966 at Concord Repatriation Hospital of myocardial infarction and ischameiac heart disease, also having suffered from diabetes meticulitus for many years.

Ted received a State funeral. He used to tell everyone he was born in St Peters, so that people assumed St Peters New South Wales, when actually he was referring to where he was baptised at St Peters Church, Parkstone, England. He fooled everyone until the end, the service conducted with an Australian flag on his coffin, not the English one it should have been.

He was buried at Rookwood Necropolis, New South Wales in the Catholic Section on 4th July 1966, Grave 1942, Section 7. His wife Mona was buried alongside him when she died 7 years later in 1973.[18][19][20]

Requiescat in Pace.

Ted's Grave at Rookwood
Granddaughter of Ted Roberts at Anzac Cove, 2013


  • The maternal and paternal lines are confirmed as a result of matches within the expected ranges, of three Roberts siblings, their descendants with their first cousin once removed and Private Roberts. [21]
  • The paternal line is confirmed with triangulated DNA matches back to the relationship John Lee and Elizabeth Higgs. [22] It has subsequently been confirmed that an additional segment on Chromosome 7 belongs to John Lee. [23]


  1. Veronica Williams created WikiTree profile Roberts-7333 through the import of Roberts_2013-08-13_2013-08-17.ged on Aug 16, 2013.
  2. Memoirs of ROBERTS E A., Held by Veronica Williams, Written about 1960's.
  3. England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.Original data - General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office. © Crown copyright. Published by permission of the Contro), Ancestry.com.au, http://www.Ancestry.com.au, Database online.
  4. Dorset, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011), www.ancestry.com.au, Database online.
  5. BDM - Certificates, ROBERTS EA - Birth - GRO 310/1893.
  6. 1901 England Census (Provo, UT, USA, The Generations Network, Inc., 2005), www.ancestry.com, ROBERTS Edward (1868). Database online.
  7. Queensland Immigrants register, Orsova SS, P1 M 1707 imm/128.
  8. This comment may hold a clue for the mystery surrounding his maternal grandfather, Arthur George Courtenay still under investigation.
  9. Gympie has been mentioned in his narrative but it is yet unclear exactly where they were in QLD at this time.
  10. In conversations with my mother pre 2007, she seemed to recall it may have been Charters Towers, but there is no firm evidence of that.
  11. Do you know anyone in this regiment? Click here to add them to the AIF 2nd Regiment, 2nd Battalion page.
  12. BDM - Certificates, ROBERTS to MacDonald - Marriage 60/7984/1917.
  13. BDM - Certificates, ROBERTS Flora - Death NSW 12972/1919.
  14. BDM - Certificates, ROBERTS to Murphy - marriage 5159/1922 - St Marys Cathedral.
  15. Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.Original data - Australian Electoral Commission. [Electoral roll].Original data: Australian Electoral Commission. [Electoral roll]), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Database online.
  16. Original held by Veronica WIlliams, page reference to be added.
  17. Dates are unclear and needs further research.
  18. Obituary Notice, ROBERTS Edward Arthur, Daily Mirror 7 Jul 1966.
  19. BDM - Certificates, ROBERTS Edward Arthur - Death 28167/1966.
  20. Burial Index - Rookwood, Rookwood Cemetery, ROBERTS EA - Catholic, M2 Grave 1942 Section 7.
  21. GEDmatch one to one comparison confirmation of second cousin relationship between Veronica Williams GEDmatch T350954 and Private Roberts GEDmatch T685594; resulting in Largest segment = 48 cM, Total of shared segments 236 cM, 2013.
  22. Gedmatch triangulated group confirmation of relationships on ROBERTS/MALE/SMITH/LEE lines between distant cousins Private Male GEDmatch T820240, Joan Roberts GEDmatch T485376 and Private Smith GEDmatch T414267; resulting in shared segment match of about 10cMs on chromosome 7 from 76,816,843 - 87,928,886 www.gedmatch.com, 29 July 2016. Private Male's privacy level has subsequently changed but you can view her family connection from the profile of her grandfather.
  23. Gedmatch triangulated group confirmation of relationships between distant cousins Private Male GEDmatch T820240, Joan Roberts GEDmatch T485376 and Private Priest GEDmatch A245815; resulting in shared segment match of about 26cMs on chromosome 7 from 44.2 - 78.9. www.gedmatch.com, Sep 2016.

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Comments: 3

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*Visit : VWMA Virtual Memorial Edward Arthur Roberts

hi Veronica - you may wish to visit the vwma site above - I have put him into virtual with his MiD - the SERN is 1415 - a typo, in the (PDF) card dated April 1915 - - my feeling is the '5' should have been a '3' - - cheers

posted by John Andrewartha
bad american english, proper British english?

unless you mean the small d vs capital D....

but all the others have captial D, so.... taking the easiest way to make them all the same

wikipedia has A member of the armed forces mentioned in dispatches (or despatches, MiD)

since this is about the military decoration, we went with the spelling as with the MiD, the Commonwealth's lowest decoration

posted by Keith McDonald
hi, small item...

can you please change Category: Mentioned in despatches to Category: mentioned in Despatches


Category: World War I, WIA, Australia to Category: Wounded in Action, Australia, World War I

posted by Keith McDonald

Featured German connections: Edward is 21 degrees from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 25 degrees from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 28 degrees from Lucas Cranach, 23 degrees from Stefanie Graf, 21 degrees from Wilhelm Grimm, 22 degrees from Fanny Hensel, 31 degrees from Theodor Heuss, 18 degrees from Alexander Mack, 36 degrees from Carl Miele, 17 degrees from Nathan Rothschild, 24 degrees from Hermann Friedrich Albert von Ihering and 20 degrees from Ferdinand von Zeppelin on our single family tree. Login to see how you relate to 33 million family members.