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    ROBINSON, Edward Albert Perciville “Digger” D.C.M., J.P (1873 to 1955) 

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    Distinguished Conduct Medal (Edward VII)
    E. P. Robinson Natal Guides; British South Africa Company’s Medal 1890-97, reverse 
    Rhodesia 1896, no bar Troopr. E.P. Robinson, “F” Troop B. F. F.; QSA 5 bars Talana, Defence of Ladysmith, Orange Free State, Laing’s Nek, Belfast E. P. Robinson Natal Guides; 1914-15 Star Lt. E.P. Robinson Hartigans Hse.; BWM; AVM (bilingual) Lt E.P. Robinson.


    ROBINSON, Edward Albert Perciville “Digger” D.C.M., J.P (1873 to 1955) 
    Trooper. ''F '' troop – Bulawayo Field Force; guide (honorary sergeant) – Natal Guides; sergeant – 
    lieutenant – 4th D.M.R. (Southern Rifles); lieutenant – No. 2 troop, "A" squadron, Hartigan's Horse; 
    lieutenant – South African Native Labour Corps. 

    Medal entitlement: Distinguished Conduct Medal Edward VII. Named to E.P. Robinson, Natal Guides. London Gazette of 27 September 1901. 2 096 Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded during the Boer War, of which 9 were awarded to the Natal Guides.

    Mentioned in Despatches by Sir George White (London Gazette 08 February 1901) – 
    “I would Specifically elude to the work done by the Corps of Guides - these gentlemen rendered the greatest possible assistance. Foremost in every fight, always ready to undertake difficult or dangerous duties, they helped me equally in field operations, with Supply and Transport, and in dealing with the Dutch inhabitants ... I must mention Mr. F. Knight; the brothers Loxton; the brothers Alison; the brothers Whipp; the brothers Robinson…” 

    Percy's brother George Robinson was a Trooper in the Colonial Scouts. 


    Percy Robinson was mentioned in despatches again by Lord Roberts on 4 September 1901 (London Gazette dated 10 September 1901) and awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

    Natal Guides. Messrs. A.F. Henderson, W.A. Knight, T.J.M. Macfarlane, W.M. Struben, A.B. Allison, M. Allison, G.G. Godson, S. Loxton, T. Loxton, E.P. Robinson, A. Russell, C.S. Whipp, R.T. Whipp. 

    The family believed that he was awarded his D.C.M. for operating behind enemy lines prior to the battle of Talana. However, the citation is not specific on this point. 


    B.S.A. COMPANY MEDAL reverse ''RHODESIA 1896 Trooper, "F" Troop, Bulawayo Field Force (under Captain Dawson). Named to P. Robinson both on the medal and Roll. According to Ian 
    Johnstone, information contained in the Zimbabwe Archives indicates that Robinson applied for his medal in May 1902 to the Governor of Natal and again in August – this time to the Military Secretary, 
    Cape Town. The medal was presented to him at the family farm Ellerton. Riet Vlei, Mooi River on 22 May 1903. 


    Percy Robinson was the nephew of Sir John Robinson K.C.M.G, the first Prime Minister of Natal. He was born on the farm Ellerton. 
    It is uncertain exactly when Robinson went to Rhodesia. While there, he contracted malaria, so his Native servants carried him on an improvised pole stretcher for 130 miles to seek treatment in Bulawayo. 

    He was prospecting in Matabeleland at the time of the uprising in 1896, and consequently saw active service with the Bulawayo Field Force for some 2½ months before he was forced to return home  because of a “family bereavement”. In his application for his BSA Company medal Robinson stated that his discharge papers, as well as newspaper cuttings of his exploits in Rhodesia, had been looted when the Boers took Dundee at the beginning of the Boer War in October 1899. 

    Frederick Courteney Selous in Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia page 96 mentions that two small patrols were sent out from the Shangani laager on Thursday 26 March 1896 in an attempt to ascertain the whereabouts of settlers with whom they had lost contact. 

    ‘Mr. Mowbray Farquhar and two companions visited a mine where a white man was known to have been working a day or two previously, whilst the other, consisting of Mr. Robinson and two others, visited the Pongo Store and the Eagle Mine. A careful search was made ... all round the 
    store. and the bodies of two out of three men who had been murdered there two days previously were discovered and covered with blankets' They failed to find the third corpse as it was lying some distance from the store. 

    In support of his application for his medal Robinson stated that he was attached to Col. Hon. Maurice Gifford on all his first expeditions and at Shiloh. His work was acknowledged by Captain Lumsden before Lumsden was mortally wounded at Fonseca's farm on 6 April 1896. 

    “The patrol under Lieutenant Colonel Gifford - now commonly known as the Shiloh Patrol consisted of Gifford's Horse, with thirty-one men of “F” Troop under Captain Dawson, and eleven men of Grey’s Scouts under Lieutenant F. Crewe - one hundred and eighteen Europeans in all, with one Maxim gun and forty-nine Colonial Boys under Captain Bisset. Captain J. W. Lumsden accompanied the patrol as Chief of Staff and second in command.”


    The patrol under Lieutenant Colonel Gifford - now commonly known as the Shiloh Patrol consisted of Gifford's Horse, with thirty-one men of “F” Troop under Captain Dawson, and eleven men of Grey’s Scouts under Lieutenant F. Crewe - one hundred and eighteen Europeans in all, with one Maxim gun and forty-nine Colonial Boys under Captain Bisset. Captain J. W. Lumsden accompanied the patrol as Chief of Staff and second in command.” The patrol left Bulawayo on Saturday morning, 4 April. Colonel Gilford obtained information that a body of the enemy was to be found on Holm's farm on the Umguza. The column was attacked by two or three hundred Matabele: “coming down from a ridge on our right, and the rear-guard – “B” Troop under Captain Fynn - were soon engaged with them… Col. Gifford sent back Captain Dawson's troop and the Colonial Boys to support Captain Fynn, and after about an hour's heavy firing the Matabele withdrew into the hills close by. In the meantime, the rest of the column had drawn out into an open space and laagered up. The next morning ... our advance guard, “A” Troop under Captain Meikle, were attacked, and at the same time a party of two or three hundred came down on our right and attacked the column”. 


    The attacking force was reluctant to close, having to first cross the Umguza River under Maxim fire. In the meantime, “A” Troop had beaten off the attack on the advance guard, and the retreating warriors were mauled by Captain Bisset’s Troop, resulting in 20 or so casualties. The column then made its way to Fonseca’s farm and laagered. The following day, a scouting patrol under Lieutenant Rorke opened fire on an impi but were forced to retire under heavy pressure. Col. Gifford ordered Captain Dawson's troop out in support. The main body took cover in a donga and set up a laager. The outlying troops were then recalled - not a moment too soon - as Captain Fynn’s troop had already lost Trooper Kenneth McKenzie, shot through the head. Trooper Fielding was wounded in the leg and Captain Lumsden’s horse was shot out from underneath him. Captain Dawson and the Colonial Boys also retired in good order. 

    The Matabele then attacked the laager, directing their fire mainly at the wagon and Maxim. Cpl. Ernest Reynolds (Gifford's Horse) was mortally wounded, shot through the arm and lungs. Col Gifford was wounded in the shoulder and handed over command to Captain Lumsden. Troopers J. Walker (Gifford's Horse) and W.J. Eatwell (“F” Troop) were wounded shortly  afterwards. Captain Lumsden sent two of what Selous describes as “Bisset’s boys” - actually Percy Robinson and Trooper J. Hurst “under heavy fire from enemy at very short range” to contact Captain  Macfarlane’s relief column and also to fetch a doctor to come and attend to Col. Gifford and the remainder of the wounded, as well as to bring food and ammunition. The enemy attacked again on the following morning. Captain Lumsden was wounded in the leg while walking about the laager and directing the Maxim. Command passed to Captain Bissett. Lieutenant J.H. Hulbert (Gifford's Horse) was shot in the leg soon afterwards. That afternoon a party was sent out to retrieve McKenzie's body and he was buried alongside Corporal Reynolds in the centre of the laager. 

    In the meantime, Robinson and Hurst had contacted Captain Macfarlane’s relieving column, which finally reached Gifford’s position and effectively brought the action to an end. The whole body returned to Bulawayo the following day. Unfortunately, Captain Lumsden died the day after the 
    column returned, while Col. Gifford had to have his arm amputated.


    On the outbreak of the Boer War Percy Robinson attested as Guide and Honorary Sergeant, Natal Guides. Amery in his monumental Times History of the War Volume 2, page 131 describes them 
    as “an excellent little corps of Natal Guides under Major D. Henderson of the Intelligence.” Percy Robinson was sent to Dundee prior to the battle of Talana to scout out enemy movements. Once again, Amery describes “the excellent work of the Natal Guides, assisted by Basuto scouts ... 
    General Symons was kept fully informed of every movement of the Boer forces.” Percy Robinson married Winifred Skottowe of Rensburg, Mooi River and Mahon Lodge, Cheshire, in January 1901. However, his obituary states that he married Murphie, nee Williamson, of Yorkshire presumably a second marriage? They had no children. He started a small stud farm outside  Harrysmith after the Boer War. He was a foundation member of the Harrysmith Polo Club and was reputed to have been the finest steeplechase rider in the country. At the opening of the railway to Harrysmith in 1891, he won all three 3-mile steeplechase events on "Rex", beating the Natal  Champion ridden by Oliver Davis. He was also a fine tennis player. 


    Appointed as Sergeant in the 4th D.M.R. Southern Rifles on 19 October 1914, he was promoted Lieutenant on 1 November 1914 and served until 9 January 1915. He was appointed Lieutenant in Number 2 Troop, “A” Squadron, Hartigan's Horse, the following day. His next of kin at that time is 
    noted as Mrs. M. Robinson, c/o 278 Bulwer Street, Pietermaritzburg. The Regiment served with the Southern Force during the invasion of German South- West Africa. Percy Robinson's service with Hartigan's Horse ended on 30 August 1915. He then joined the South African Native Labour Corps and was Gazetted as a Temporary Captain w.e.f. 14 May 1917 (London Gazette 23 August 1917). 


    He served on the Western Front from 30 July 1917 to 17 February 1919. He was finally demobbed in Rosebank on 6 August 1919. His address at that time was given as c/o P.O. Box 39, Ladysmith. 
    Percy Robinson farmed at Mkuze in Zululand for a number of years, before retiring to Greytown with his wife. He farmed there for approximately three years before he died at the Plough Hotel,  Greytown, in about 1955, well into his 80’s. His funeral was held at St. James' Church. The Rev. J. Mountford conducted the service.


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