Robert Sylvester Jenyns
Service number 16411

The loss of his brother at the Battle of Pozieres in July 1916 may have spurred Robert Jenyns, a Tamborine Mountain farmer, to enlist in the army the following year.

Born on the Jenyns family property, Sylvania, at Bromelton on June 22, 1889, Robert (Bob) was the third youngest child of Joshua and Sarah Jenyns and, according to family members, was extremely close to his brother Joshua (Ern) Jenyns, 18 months his senior.

Ern, his best mate, was the best man when Bob married Dorothy Rosser, the sister of Jack Rosser and Stan Rosser, in January 1915.

Six months later, Ern enlisted in the AIF. Bob remained at home, working hard on his property, opposite Ern’s dairy farm Seaview, at the southern end of Tamborine Mountain.

In August 1916, Bob was notified that Ern had been missing in action since July 29 at the battle for Pozieres Ridge in France.

Desperate for news of his brother, Bob wrote to the army directly and through his solicitor, but it was more than a year before he found out about his brother’s fate.

Bob, almost 28, had been married for two and a half years and had two small daughters, Hilda Francis and Dorothy Esther, who was just three months old, when he enlisted on June 21, 1917.

He was assigned to the mostly Queensland 25th Battalion in which Ern had served.

In later years, Bob’s daughter, Hilda, told family members that her father had felt his brother’s loss keenly and may have felt the need to take his place in the AIF.

News that Ern had in fact been killed in July the previous year came just as Bob was preparing to leave for overseas service in December 1917.

After contracting the mumps, Bob did not leave Australia until July 1918. He boarded the HMAT Borda in Sydney and arrived at Southampton on September 29.

He was stationed at Parkhouse, Wiltshire, for five months, assigned to the Australian Army Service Corps, otherwise known as the transport unit.

When Bob finally made it to France, arriving at Abancourt in February 1919, the war had been over for three months.

There was a shortage of fuel for motor transport to supply the troops who were still in the field, and horses were being used as much as possible. With his background in farming, Bob was a natural choice to help with the horse-powered transport of supplies, equipment and the German spoils of war during the demobilisation.

At the end of March 1919, Bob’s war work was done.

“Desperate for news of his brother, Bob wrote to the army directly.”

The loss of his brother had been a huge blow.

He took a week’s leave to Brussels and then returned to England, where he took advantage of the opportunity to learn new skills while waiting to return to Australia.

The English-style dry stone walls which still stand at Seaview, the property he inherited from his brother Ern, may provide a clue to what Bob learnt before he embarked on the SS Norman, on July 4, to come home.

Arriving on August 20, Bob was discharged from the army on September 6, 1919.

He returned home to Tamborine Mountain and, with his draught horse Punch to do the heavy hauling, set about building the dry stone walls to enclose the home and garden built by his brother.

Family members who continue to live on Tamborine Mountain view these walls, still standing in good condition after almost 100 years, as a testament to his hard work and perseverance.

Described as a quiet and sensitive man, Bob never spoke with his daughters or adopted son, Reg, about the sadness in his life, although the loss of his brother had been a huge blow.

Around the age of 48, Bob sold Seaview to relocate his family to another property at North Tamborine, a move he later regretted, perhaps because it represented a lost link to his late brother.

His health deteriorated, and with the stress and hard work of establishing a new farm, he suffered a nervous breakdown.

After some time in hospital in Brisbane, Bob was discharged. He and Dorothy were staying with their daughter Hilda, who at that time was married and living in Brisbane, while he continued to recuperate.

On one of the regular evening walks, which were part of his rehabilitation program, Bob slipped and fell crossing the railway bridge at Buranda. When he did not come home, his family went out to look for him and found him lying beside the railway line with a broken neck.

Bob was admitted to hospital but passed away that night, two months before his 50th birthday.

Bob Jenyns with his daughters Hilda and Esther sitting atop the dry stone walls he built.

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