No.6379 Private Frank Arthur Roberts
Frank Arthur Roberts was born in Williamstown on 12 November 1883. A fitter’s assistant by trade, he married Edith Wilson in 1915 before volunteering to serve his country at the end of January 1916.
The 32-year-old was assigned to the 20th Reinforcements, 14th Infantry Battalion, AIF, spending the first six months of his service in Melbourne before heading to Plymouth, England on 7 September 1916. From there, it was off to Codford on England’s Salisbury Plains for further training. He was to spend much of his military service at Codford having been declared unfit for general service in September 1917. He was sent to France at the end of October 1918, by which time the 14th Battalion had been withdrawn from the field.
The 14th Battalion was formed mainly from Victorian recruits in August 1914. It formed part of the first convoy to Egypt and suffered heavily in the Gallipoli campaign from April through to December 1915. After Gallipoli, it became known as Jacka’s Mob after Corporal Albert Jacka won the V.C. at Courtney's Post in May.
In early August, the battalion was part of the assault on Hill 971 and then Hill 60 at the end of the month, suffering heavy casualties on both occasions. It was withdrawn to protect the beachhead where it stayed until the battalion was evacuated in December.
After refitting and training in Egypt, the 14th Battalion was sent to France in June 1916 just prior to the Somme offensive that began on July 1. It fought in the bloodbath at Pozieres and then again at Bullecourt in 1917, suffering major casualties on both occasions.
It spent much of 1917, defending the line in Belgium before being part of the effort that held back the German Spring Offensive in March 1918. The 14th Battalion also fought around Amiens as part of the allies’ 100-day offensive in August and was withdrawn from the field in September. Throughout the course of the war, the 14th Battalion lost 915 men killed and 2,239 wounded.
6379 Private Frank Arthur Roberts was sent back to England from France at the end of March 1919. He returned to Australia in May and was discharged from service in Melbourne in August.
During World War II and aged in his mid 50s, he enlisted again – this time in the Citizen Military Force. He and his wife, Edith, were living at Hawthorn at the time.
Frank died at Macleod, a suburb of Melbourne, in 1972 aged 88. Edith died in 1983 aged 91.
Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
NAA: B2455 Roberts FA
Australian War Memorial