Robert Geoffrey Horniman (MC)
Serial No. 2711
3rd Battalion & 4th Battalion
Robert Geoffrey Horniman (MC) - Information
When the war broke out, Robert was living with his family in Campbelltown and working as a clerk. Although separated by three years, Robert and his younger brother, Lancelot, were quite close. They decided to join the war effort together enlisting at Liverpool Camp within days of each other in April 1915.
During training, Robert was allocated to the 3rd Battalion as a Private and departed Sydney upon the HMAT Runic on the 9th of August 1915. He landed in Alexandria, Egypt, and was then attached to the 45th Howitzer Battery. In November, he joined his unit at Gallipoli, where he was appointed Temporary Corporal. The Gallipoli Campaign was soon called off and he was shipped back to the Australian Base in Egypt. Once in Egypt, Robert was posted back to the 3rd Infantry Battalion and promoted to Sergeant at Tel-el-Kebir Camp in February 1916. The following month, Robert was transferred to the 4th Battalion and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant at Serapeum.
In April, Robert arrived on the Western Front. In July 1916, while fighting at Pozières during the Somme Offensive, Robert received a bomb wound to his left thigh. He was taken to hospital in Boulogne, and evacuated for treatment in London. He recovered, and returned to duty in France in September. On the 18th of October, he was promoted to Lieutenant and was taken back to England in November to attend a School of Instruction. In early April 1917, Robert rejoined the 4th Battalion in the field. At the time, they were participating in operations after the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line. In July, Robert went to England for ‘Blighty’ leave, and was then posted for duty with the Australian Division Base Depot and Central Training School. He also attended a Lewis Gun School at Tidworth in February 1918 and began instructing troops the following month. In April, he was detached for duty to the 1st Training Battalion in Codford. On the 31st of July, Robert was shipped back to his unit in France, where he fought alongside his men during the Battle of Amiens. On the 1st of September, Robert’s brother, Lancelot, was killed in action at Peronne. Sadly, he had no time to grieve, as his men were counting on him. Operation after operation, they were pushing the Germans back. At the time, Robert was recommended for an award for gallantry and devotion to duty. During operations east of Roisel from the 11-21st of September, he and his men had advanced about a mile, when the Germans laid down a heavy barrage and counter-attacked. Robert demonstrated superb leadership skills, as he manoeuvred his troops, pushing the Germans back and consolidated their position. He then displayed these same qualities in further operations near Hargicourt on the 18th of September. He was commanding the company, and was instrumental in them holding their ground on the left flank against a German counter-attack. Thus, he prevented the Germans from breaking through and splitting the line. From these heroic actions, Robert was awarded the Military Cross in early 1919. Robert continued to lead his men, promoted Captain on the 21st of October.
After the war ended, Robert was posted for duty with the Corps Workshops before leaving for Australia on the 6th of July 1919. Upon arrival, he was complaining of defective sight, aggravated by war service. He then reunited with his family in Campbelltown, who were mourning the loss of Lancelot. He then began helping his father with the Soldiers Memorial. Robert eventually went to work for Dalgety & Co. in Sydney.