Robert George Knox

r knox banner

He came to Sorrento

Robert George Knox was born on 26th September 1888 at the family home, Arthur Street, Sandringham, the son of Mary Anne and Henry Abernethy Knox, a gardener. Robert was the sixth of ten children and the third boy.

Records show Robert living in Arthur Street until 1914 and working as a ‘driver’. In another 1914 electoral roll he is also recorded as being at Sorrento and still a driver.

Robert married Margaret Sophia “Maggie” Hibbert, the eldest daughter of Mary and George Hibbert, on 30th September 1915 at 11 Victoria Pde. Collingwood. One of the witnesses was Maggie’s younger sister Eileen.

Maggie was the older sister of Albert George Hibbert who’s story is HERE.

We don’t know haw Robert and Maggie met but it may be possible that Robert was working as a driver for George Hibbert, delivering lemonade and married the bosses daughter. Maggie’s address on their marriage certificate is 12 St John St Windsor (as it is on Robert’s enlistment below). The 1916 electoral roll has Robert still at Sorrento but no Maggie. Perhaps just not updated.


Robert enlisted on 16th November 1915 into the 24th Infantry Battalion, 9th Reinforcements,  just a month and a half after his marriage.

His older brother Henry Abernethy Jr. had enlisted in August 1915 in the 8th Light Horse Regiment and his younger brother “Willie” in September 1915 into 5th Infantry Battalion.

Knox Enlistment

The 6th Infantry Brigade, 24th Battalion, 9th Reinforcements embarked from Melbourne on H.M.A.T. A69 “Warilda” on the 8th Feb1916.

hmat A69 warilda

H.M.A.T. A69 “Warilda” from Flotilla Australia

24th Australian Infantry Battalion

24th battalion patch

24th Battalion patch from AWM HERE

The 24th Battalion was raised in a hurry. The original intent was to raise the fourth battalion of the 6th Brigade from the “outer states”, but a surplus of recruits at Broadmeadows Camp in Victoria lead to a decision being made to raise it there. The battalion was formed during the first week of May 1915, and sailed from Melbourne at the end of that week.

Training shortfalls were made up in Egypt in July and August, and on 4 September 1915 the Battalion went ashore at Gallipoli. It spent the next 16 weeks sharing duty in the Lone Pine trenches with the 23rd Battalion. The fighting at Lone Pine was so dangerous and exhausting that battalions rotated every day. While the bulk of the battalion was at Gallipoli, a small party of 52, trained as packhorse handlers, served with the British force in Salonika.

The Battalion was reunited in Egypt in early 1916 and proceeded to France in March. It took part in its first major offensive around Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in July and August 1917. The Battalion got little rest during the bleak winter of 1916-17 alternating between the front and labouring tasks. When patrolling no-man’s land the men of the 24th adopted a unique form of snow camouflage – large white nighties bought in Amiens.

Source: AWM Unit Histories. for more go HERE

Battle of Pozieres

Pozieres, a small village in the Somme valley in France, was the scene of bitter and costly fighting for the 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Divisions in mid 1916.

The village was captured initially by the 1st Division on 23 July 1916. The division clung to its gains despite almost continuous artillery fire and repeated German counter-attacks but suffered heavily. By the time it was relieved on 27 July it had suffered 5,285 casualties.

The 2nd Division (which included 24th Battalion) took over from the 1st and mounted two further attacks – the first, on 29 July, was a costly failure; the second, on 2 August, resulted in the seizure of further German positions beyond the village.

The 2nd Australian Division had failed once to take the OG lines. A more carefully planned second assault was launched on 4 August. The OG lines were captured and held against counterattacks.

Again, the Australians suffered heavily from retaliatory bombardments. They were relieved on 6 August, having suffered 6,848 casualties.

The 4th Division was next into the line at Pozieres. It too endured a massive artillery bombardment, and defeated a German counter-attack on 7 August; this was the last attempt by the Germans to retake Pozieres.

Source: AWM Histories HERE

pozieres aug 4

Pozieres from August 4th HERE

C.E.W. Bean said of the Pozières ridge:

“is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth.”


What happened to Robert Knox?

According to records, Robert was reported missing on August 5th 1916.

It was not until a Court of Enquiry in September 1917 that Robert was finally reported killed on that day.

The court had received the following statement via the Red Cross:

knox witness statement


Robert’s remains were never found, so he is remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France

knox listing at v b memorial

Back at Sorrento

Maggie wrote to enquire about Robert on a couple of occasions and had to wait for over a year for the news. Whereupon she and the rest of the family were able to say goodbye:

robert knox dth notice

From Trove HERE

ps. Maggie remarried after the War to George Rowland in 1920. They had one son.

Both Robert’s brothers survived the war.

The Hibbert family lost a son in law in Robert having recently lost their son Albert at Fromelles  . . . there was more sadness to come.