What started out as general research for the college’s annual Anzac Ceremony by Director of Studies, Miss Lyndall Gunders, lead to a very personal encounter when she stumbled across the story of Nambour boy Robert Roberts (pictured) on the Adpot a Digger Project website (www.adoptadigger.org). Robert was a born and bred Nambour lad who grew up on his family’s cane farm at Petrie Creek. He attended school in Nambour before working at the Moreton Central Sugar Mill. In 1915 at age 21 Robert enlisted in the army and was sent to the Western Front where he served in a Field Ambulance division as a stretcher-bearer. Just one year into his service Private Roberts was wounded by an exploding enemy shell. Despite desperate attempts to save his life including amputating his leg, Private Roberts passed away at just 23 years of age. His name is listed on the Wall of Remembrance at Nambour’s Quota Park.
The website said that the information about Private Roberts had been researched by a lady named Daphne. There was an email contact listed so Miss Gunders contacted Daphne to thank her for telling Robert’s story. Daphne replied saying “I am Robert’s niece!” As fate would have it, Daphne lives in Burnside and Suncoast was honoured to have Daphne has a special guest at the ceremony wearing her uncle’s medals.
Private Roberts story was relayed to students by college captains Riette de Jager and Isaac Waterhouse who were deeply moved by his story. Isaac particularly identified with Robert saying, “I am reminded that Robert was a son and brother, not too different to me…with all of the same dreams and desires that I have as a young man…his sacrifice must not be forgotten.” In honour of Private Roberts, Isaac will wear his commemorative badge in the Anzac Day March at Nambour.
Daphne was thrilled with how the College Captains told her uncle’s story saying, “They spoke so beautifully.”
Students were also addressed by the Vice President of the Nambour RSL Sub Branch Mr John Campbell. Mr Campbell served nine years in the Navy from 1962 and spoke to students about honour and sacrifice.
Private Robert Allan Roberts
College Captains Riette de Jager and Isaac Waterhouse with Daphne Heaton.