Robert Joseph Backhouse
Serial Number and Rank: 3109, Private
Birth: Benandrah nr Batemans Bay 20 May 1894, 1894/21826 Moruya
Parents: James Backhouse & Ellen Anges McNamara
Enlisted: Milton 3 November 1916 with Brother James Backhouse
Next of Kin: W. Thersa Myrtle Backhouse of Kioloa via Milton
Service: 45th Battalion, 8th Reinforcement.
Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A72 Beltana on 25 November 1916
Death: DOW 6 April 1918
Burial: France 169 Gezaincourt Communal Cemetery Extension
Marriage: Thersa Myrtle Donovan 22 Dec 1915 RC Rites Termeil, daughter of Joseph Donovan and Elizabeth Wilson
Honour Rolls: Kendall Cottage Memorial – To Our Fallen Comrades
RSL Honour Roll
Milton Town Memorial
Robert’s family settled at Termeil around 1898 when he was 4 years old. He attended Termeil Public School. Robert grew up on the Backhouse farm located near Bawley Point. His wife Theresa Backhouse living in Ashfield Sydney at time of Robert’s death.
Brother James Backhouse served in the 37th Battalion.
His distant cousin Robert Gisbon Latta also in the 45th Battalion.
Robert Joseph Backhouse was born in 1894 like his brother James too born at Benandarah. After his enlistment he returned home to Kioloa on final leave, there was a farewell function held for him and he was presented with a medal specially designed for presentation to a soldier, having “Remembrance” Termeil, and date engraved on it, also the map of Australia, that fighting for his country was the highest work he could engage in at the present time.
The Milton Ulladulla Times reported;
“Our Soldier says he has more to fight for than a single man, having his wife and a new born son, and he says he wants to do his bit, and he cannot do it here, so is going where he can. He sails this week, his brother James having sailed a fortnight ago. Mr. and Mrs Backhouse have now given two splendid sons to fight for the Empire, and have never murmured; neither have their two brave young wives whom we have here among us. May God bless and protect our soldier boy, and bring him safely back to his young wife and son, parents, brothers, and sisters, and to the many friends who honor him for what he has done.”
Robert embarked from Sydney for overseas service aboard HMAT A72 Beltana on 25 November 1916. He was appointed to the 45th Battalion, 8th Reinforcement, after training in England he was transferred to the war front in France. Robert’s cousin Robert Gibson Latta also served with the 45th Battalion.
But unfortunately Robert James did not return home. He was badly wounded at Danancourt in France and he was relayed behind the lines to a clearing station where he died of his wounds on April 6, 1918 at the age of 23 years. Robert is buried at 169 Gezaincourt Communal Cemetery Extension in France.
The news of his death devastated his family, the Sydney Morning Herald two family notices on May 9, 1918:
ROLL OF HONOUR:
Backhouse died of wounds in France April 6th Private R J Backhouse of Termeil aged 23.
Pictured him safe returning
Longed to Clasp his Hand
But has postpone the meeting
To be in a better land
inserted by his wife and his little son (Douglas)
Somewhere in France they have laid him
Our dear soldier so young and brave
On Australia’s Roll of Honour
You will find our hero’s name
inserted by his loving mother father brothers and sisters
Robert James Backhouse’s name appears on the Kendall Cottage Memorial – To Our Fallen Comrades, Milton Ulladulla RSL Honour Roll and the Milton Town Memorial