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Local Heroes WW1

McBEATH, Robert Donald

poppy-20px(Pte) Robert Donald McBeath

Private Robert Donald McBeath 3828, a Telegraphist from Semaphore, South Australia prior to enlistment on 4th August 1915 and embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, with his unit 10th Battalion, 12th Reinforcement, on board RMS Malwa on 2 December 1915.

Regimental number 3828
Place of birth Port Adelaide, South Australia
School Public School
Religion Presbyterian
Occupation Telegraphist
Address Semaphore, South Australia
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 24
Next of kin Mother, Mrs E McBeath, Germein Street, Semaphore, South Australia
Previous military service Served in the Cadets, Adelaide.
Enlistment date 4-Aug-15
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 10th Battalion, 12th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/27/3
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board RMS Malwa on 2 December 1915
Rank from Nominal Roll Private
Unit from Nominal Roll 10th Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour Circular Shot by a sniper while acting as a stretcher- bearer carrying wounded officers. (D. McBeath, father)
Fate Killed in Action 23 August 1916
Place of death or wounding Pozieres, Somme Sector, France
Age at death 25
Age at death from cemetery records 25
Place of burial No known grave
Commemoration details Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France
Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.
The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.
On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.
After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.
Panel number, Roll of Honour, 59
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from Parents: David and Ellen MCBEATH, Hargrave Street, Largs Bay, South Australia
  cemetery records
Family/military connections Brother: 3827 Pte Hugh McBEATH, 10th Bn, returned to Australia, 27 August 1917; Cousin: 4533 Pte William Henry McBEATH, 1st Anzac Cyclists' Bn, killed in action, 25 February 1917.
Other details War service: Western Front
Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal


Mr. and Mrs. D. McBeath, of Water- street, Semaphore, have been officially notified that their eldest son, Signaller R. D. McBeath, was killed in action in France on August 23, 1916. He was 25 years of age. After finishing his scholastic career he joined the Post and Telegraph Department at Kingston, where he was highly respected. After a little over three years service at the Kingston office he was transferred to the G.P.O., Adelaide, as an operator. He became a skillful telegraphist, and was for two years on the relieving staff. Finally he was transferred to Port Augusta, from which place he enlisted in August, 1915. His cheerful manner and noble character won for him a large circle of friends. He left for Egypt on December 2, with his only brother, Private Hughie McBeath, who has been wounded and is in the hospital in France." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 28 Oct 1916 (


National Commemoration

Australian War Memorial Canberra - At the heart of the Memorial building is the Roll of Honour: a long series of bronze panels recording the names of over 102,000 members of the Australian armed forces who have died during or as a result of war service, warlike service, non-warlike service and certain peacetime operations.

Location on the Roll of Honour - Private Robert Donald McBeath's name is located at panel 59 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial (as indicated by the poppy on the plan).


State Commemoration


South Australia National War Memorial on North Terrace "TO THOSE WHO NOBLY STRIVING NOBLY FELL THAT WE MIGHT LIVE"

Private Robert Donald McBeath’s name is commemorated on the large honour rolls lining the walls of the crypt inside the South Australia National War Memorial on North Terrace, which was unveiled by the State Governor on Anzac Day 1931. Inside the crypt, bronze panels contain the names of the 5,511 South Australians who fell in the war.


Commonwealth of Australia Postmaster General’s Department Honour Board

Robert Donald McBeath, along with 47 other former employees of the then Commonwealth of Australia Postmaster General’s Department are honoured on a honour wall at the Australia Post Adelaide, 141 King William St, Adelaide.

Local Commemoration

Whaite-HG image-4

The Semaphore War Memorial was dedicated in 1925 to honour all of those from the district who fought in the war, such as Private Robert Donald McBeath.


The Semaphore War Memorial on the Esplanade was dedicated in 1925 to honour all of those from the district who fought in the war. A temporary ‘Memorial Arch’ of wood and iron was first erected at the entrance to the Semaphore Jetty bearing the banner title, ‘For King & Empire’. On 27 April 1924, four foundation stones for the new memorial were laid at the approach to the jetty – one on behalf of the citizens of Port Adelaide district, one for the RSSILA, one on behalf of the parents of the fallen men, and one on behalf of the widows and orphans.

No doubt Private Robert Donald McBeath's Mother Mrs Ellen and Father David would have attended the laying of these foundation stones in 1924 – with its immediate relevance to them. The stone for the parents of those who fell, such as Trooper Harold Leonard Antonson was laid by Mrs Magnus Wald. The late Magnus Wald had been owner of Glanville Hall, proprietor of the South Australian Stevedoring Company and member for Scarborough Ward 1898-00.


This foundation stone for the Semaphore War Memorial was laid at the approach to the jetty on 27 April 1924 by Mrs Magnus Wald on behalf the parents of those who fell. For Mrs Ellen McBeath, this memorial honoured her son Harold who died from Malignant malaria 16 October 1918.

They were also most likely among the several thousand people who attended the actual unveiling of the Semaphore War Memorial the following year.

The following year, a granite obelisk was erected on the foundation stones, with an electric ‘turret type’ clock and topped by a marble Angel of Peace with wings outspread. The local newspaper noted, “all the names of those who enlisted from the district or who made the supreme sacrifice cannot be placed on the monument” so it instead bears a simple commemorative plaque.

Semaphore & Port Adelaide RSL

For the 2015 commemoration of the Anzac Centenary, the Semaphore & Port Adelaide RSL has created a virtual Honour Board listing the names of over 2,000 local men who volunteered to serve in World War 1. Among them are counted Private Robert Donald McBeath from Semaphore who served in the AIF 10th Battalion, 12th Reinforcement in France..


Help find Stories Photos to our Honour Boards

Saluting Service: Keeping Our History Alive

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McBEATH, Robert Donald

McBEATH, Robert Donald

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