Second Lieutenant Arthur Richard Robinson


Arthur Richard Robinson was born on 2 September 1896 at Ashgrove Villa Cavehill Road, Oldpark, Belfast, the second of three children of chief reporter on the Northern Whig newspaper, Edwin Gordon Robinson and his wife Mary Josephine (nee Moan). Educated at the Belfast Model School Technical Institute, by 1911 he was living with his parents and two siblings at Ashville, Inver Avenue, Belfast. He then commenced an apprenticeship with a wholesale stationery firm.

Robinson enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 18 January 1916 (No.2083). He trained at Antrim until December that year, when volunteers were sought to transfer to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and leave immediately for the front. Robinson was one of forty North Irish Horsemen who took-up the offer. The formal transfer took place on 9 January 1917 (Robinson was issued regimental number 40662) and on the same day they embarked for France. There they were posted to the 10th Battalion, joining it at Ploegsteert Wood on the Ypres front. Robinson was assigned to C Company.

The 10th Battalion was on the Ypres front at the beginning of the Third Ypres offensive in August 1917. On 16 August they took part in the Battle of Langemarck. Robinson was one of the many casualties that day, buried alive by a shell explosion. Suffering from shell-shock, he was evacuated to 109 Field Ambulance then 62 Casualty Clearing Station. He rejoined the battalion a week later, but soon became ill with suspected dysentery. After some time in hospital he returned to duty on 21 October.

Three days later Robinson applied for a commission in the infantry, with a preference for the Royal Irish Fusiliers. His commanding officers had already received supporting letters from well-placed individuals. On 7 August, Lieutenant-Colonel Maude, commanding officer of the North Irish Horse, wrote:

I understand that No.40662 Pte. A.R. Robinson, of the unit under your Command is making application for a Commission and I have been asked for a reference:-

Pte. Robinson was serving in the North Irish Horse, when about Christmas of 1916, Volunteers were called for to form a draft for your regiment and being anxious to go out he volunteered. I have the best reports of him from all with whom he served under in this regiment. I consider him a suitable candidate for a Commission and should have no hesitation, if he were still under my Command, in recommending him.

On 8 October James Johnston, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, wrote:

Dear Major Knox

I understand that Private A. R. Robinson, No.40662, C. Company, 10th Battn, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, is applying for a Commission, and I wish to take the opportunity of strongly recommending him.

He joined the colours over eighteen months ago, and shortly afterwards was sent to France, where he has given an excellent account of himself reflecting credit in every way on himself and those who are following his career with much interest. He is the son of one of our leading journalists who is highly respected and esteemed throughout the city and district.

Private Robinson is a young man of great promise and exemplary character, possessing sound education, tact and ability, and would, in my opinion, make a very capable and efficient officer, and it would be a great gratification to myself and his many friends to hear of his well deserved advancement.

I may say that in the beginning of August last, I wrote to Colonel Macrory recommending Private Robinson, but shortly afterwards Colonel Macrory was wounded, and indeed Private Robinson was also wounded. I am now writing to you, as I understand you are in Command, temporarily, of his battalion, and I would be glad if you would do what you could in this matter.

The application was approved by the 10th Battalion's new commanding officer, former North Irish Horse officer Lord Farnham.

On 28 November 1917 Robinson left France for England where, after a period of leave and duty with the 15th Reserve Brigade, on 5 April 1918 he reported for duty at No.7 Officer Cadet Battalion, Fermoy. There he was assessed as having a 'very fair' education, military knowledge, and power of command and leadership. He was "quite a nice type of cadet & capable."

On 25 September 1918 Robinson was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. He was one of only a very small number of Roman Catholics commissioned from the ranks of the North Irish Horse.

In November 1918 Robinson embarked for France, where he was posted to the 9th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. He joined the battalion in the field on 24 November, thirteen days after the Armistice. On 6 February 1919 Robinson was part of a draft of ten officers and 179 other ranks who proceeded to join the 1/6 Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, for service in the Army of Occupation (in fact they remained in France).

Later that year Robinson served on the demobilisation staff at Prees Heath for about three months. On 29 November 1919 he relinquished his commission on completion of his service.

Robinson later moved to Scotland. In May 1939 he was living at 213 Berkley Street, Glasgow. At the beginning of World War 2 he enrolled in the Officers' Emergency Reserve.


The article below, an obituary on the occasion of the death of Robinson's father, gives some interesting details about his family background and the role his father played as a journalist.


Belfast Telegraph, 20 August 1946