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Robert Awarded Victoria Cross

Newpaper extract

Attr: War Office Announcement of 18 November 1915. Recorded in The Third Supplement to The London Gazette, published on 18 November 1915 https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/29371/supplement/11449

Robert’s original service record documents his height as 5ft 5.5 ins (166 cms) and weight as 134 lbs (60.7 kgs). Had he been a boxer he would have fought in the ‘lightweight’ division. His general health was reported as ‘good’, and he scored 6/6 for each eye when his vision was tested. Using his machine-gunner telescope Robert was able to pick out the two men he rescued. The men he carried back were probably a deadweight and probably weighed more than him. It was akin to carrying more than a regular hundredweight bag of coal at pace across rough pasture while under heavy gunfire. To do this once is remarkable; to return to do it once more, after the briefest periods of rest, is astonishing. Robert used every fibre of his physical and mental capability to rescue those two soldiers in the most challenging of circumstances.

With the announcement of Robert’s award of the Victoria Cross in The London Gazette, Robert was sent home to Denbeath on 10 days’ leave by Colonel Maclear. The announcement followed on from earlier rumours and reports that he had been nominated for The Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), based on Robert’s letter to Kate at the end of September, describing an act of bravery at Loos.

Kate had been alerted to impending news when the Sketch newspaper sent a telegram on 18 November, requesting a photo of Robert and/or a family grouping She thought it might be the award of the DCM.

The news that Robert had been awarded the Victoria Cross was reported all over the British Isles, especially in Fife and Scotland. This modest and understated 23-year-old volunteer soldier and miner was hurled into the spotlight. He managed this with dignity and great awareness of how he spoke and presented himself, remembering and appreciating his roots and upbringing, but also knowing he would re-join his battalion in a very short time. Soon he was off on 10 days’ leave to travel home and share his story with family and friends. He would then travel to Buckingham Palace to receive his Victoria Cross (VC) Medal from King George V.

The VC is Britain's highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy. Recipients of the VC come from all social backgrounds and from all over the British Empire and Commonwealth. Since its inception in 1856, there have been 1,358 VCs awarded. This total includes three granted to soldiers who won a second VC, and one awarded to an unknown American soldier.

daily record extract

Attr: Image © Mirrorpix/Reach Licensing - Daily Record - Saturday 20 November 1915. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Headlines and counterclaims abounded about his home town.

newspaper extracts

‘He was a Son, Brother, Husband, Miner and Soldier from Fife’.

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