Robert Tait Adams
Service Number 1130

Robert Adams proved as tough as the ironbarks he encountered while working as a timber faller in the Canungra district, being wounded in action four times – each time recovering to return to the front.

Born at Kerry, south of Beaudesert, Robert was among the many men working in Canungra’s thriving timber industry when he enlisted in March 1916, two months after his 21st birthday.

With the 42nd Battalion which had been raised at Enoggera in December 1915, Robert left Sydney on the Borda in early June, arriving in Southampton on July 23, 1916.

After further training in England, the battalion proceeded to France in late November, arriving at the onset of the horrendous winter of 1916-17. The men of the 42nd spent most of what was the worst winter in decades in the front line, alternating with training or laboring in the rear.

In 1917, the focus of the 42nd’s activities was the Ypres sector of Belgium, where Robert was wounded for the first time in the battalion’s first major action of the war, Messines, on June 7.

Suffering gunshot wounds to the left cheek and shoulders, he was out of action for only a week before returning to the lines.

At Warneton, on July 31, Robert was again wounded in action, suffering abrasions to the left shoulder.

He was back in action just over a week later, returning to duty on August 8.

Robert came through the fighting at Broodseinde on October 4 unscathed, but was again wounded during the costly battle at Passchendaele on October 12, where the battalion lost one third of its strength.

With gunshot wounds to the arm and chest, Robert was evacuated to England where he was treated at Cambridge hospital, Aldershot, from October 20 to December 17.

“As tough as the ironbarks.”

Informal photograph of members of the 42nd Battalion, just out of the line, washing the mud off their gum boots. The winter of 1916-17 was the worst of the war.

(Image: Australian War Memorial; Public Domain.)

Wounded in action for the fourth time.

Robert was allowed two weeks furlough before reporting to Hurdcott for further training.

Although he had returned to France on March 20, 1918, Robert did not rejoin his battalion until April 15.

However, he was not long back on the line, wounded in action for the fourth time on May 26 when he became a victim of the insidious chemical weapon, mustard gas, and was transferred to a casualty clearing station.

Robert rejoined his unit on July 15. When the allies launched their major offensive on August 8, the 42nd was part of the initial attack and the long advance which followed, sapping the battalion’s strength.

Weeks of hard fighting also took their toll on Private Robert Adams, who reported sick to hospital on August 22 and was treated for diarrhea during the following weeks.

Robert was still out of action when the men of the depleted 42nd Battalion mutineed after being ordered to disband to provide reinforcements to other battalions. Having won a temporary reprieve, the battalion fought its last major battle at St Quentin Canal between September 29 and October 2.

The battalion was finally disbanded on October 22 and Robert was taken on strength of the 15th Battalion.

The war had ended when Robert fought his next battle – influenza. He developed a fever on December 16 and did not leave hospital until January 5, 1919.

Detached to headquarters in France, Robert was allowed leave to England from March 22 to April 8.

He returned to France where he spent almost a month before returning to England. Robert arrived at Southampton on May 20 and was then sent to Codford in Wiltshire.

On July 23, 1919, when Robert embarked on the HT Canberra to return home, he brought with him his new bride, Susan Mary Hood.

Robert, by then 24, the son of timber worker William Adams, had married Susan, 28, the daughter of a master tailor, the late Henry Hood, on June 6, 1919 in the Newport district of Wales.

The couple arrived in Australia on September 14, 1919, some 10 months after the Armistice. Robert was finally discharged from the Army on October 31.

Robert returned on HMAT Canberra, seen here in Fremantle Harbour, WA, during coaling.

(Image: Australian War Memorial; Public Domain)

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