JAMES PETER ROBERTSON, V.C. (1883-1917)

by James E. Fargo, FSA Scot

Colyer-Fergusson

James Peter Robertson was born in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada on October 26, 1883. He was the son of Alexander and Janet Robertson of Medicine Hat, Alberta. He enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on June 16, 1915.

Serving with the 27th Battalion CEF, Private Robertson was killed in action at Passchendaele Belgium on November 6, 1917. Robertson was one of nine Canadians who earned the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Passchendaele.

His citation stated: "For most conspicuous bravery and outstanding devotion to duty in attack. When his platoon was held up by uncut wire and a machine-gun causing many casualties, Private Robertson dashed to an opening on the flank, rushed the machine-gun and, after a desperate struggle with the crew, killed four and then turned the gun on the remainder, who overcome by the fierceness of his onslaught, were running towards their own lines. His gallant work enabled the platoon to advance, he inflicted many more casualties among the enemy and then carrying the captured machine-gun he led his platoon to the final objective. He there selected an excellent position and got the gun into action, firing on the retreating enemy who by this time were quite demoralized by the fire brought to bear on them. During the consolidation Private Robertson’s most determined use of the machine-gun kept down the fire of the enemy snipers; his courage and his coolness cheered his comrades and inspired them to the finest efforts. Later when two of our snipers were wounded in front of our trench, he went out and carried one of them in under very severe fire. He was killed just as he returned with the second man."

Private Robertson is buried at the Tyne Cot cemetery in West Flanders along with nearly 12,000 soldiers of the Commonwealth Forces. The Canadian Coast Guard Ship “Private Robertson VC” was named in his honor.

References:
"Clan Donnachaidh Annual", Edinburgh, 1956, p. 22, 25.
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