Robert Hamilton (from Sydney)
This handsome young man, beautiful like an athlete of antiquity, like one of the heroes sculpted on the metopes (see in Wikipedia) of the Parthenon, beauty of the classical sort, is born of a race without a history. It is a beautiful flower sprung up all at once, far from the passions of old Europe under the big sky of Australia. The slender body, supple limbs and frank gaze, he worked all his muscles, in a country that fashions itself alone. Then on a day of anguish for the world he had to do more and better. The Australian battalions, jaunty under their turned up hats, disembarked in France. And straight away they were taken to the combat. In Flanders, on the Somme, they were seen at all the battles, at all the attacks. They were among those in whom one has confidence on the days of an attack, to go forward without hesitation, and on the days of a retreat, for the sacrifice. They have given magnificently what was expected of them and in times when even heroism was becoming mundane, they astonished the world.
Robert Saunderson Hamilton (1897-1972) lived with his parents at 39 King Street, Mascot, Sydney, and worked as a clerk for the Water Board. He joined up in 1916 and worked as a medical orderly on the hospital ship 'Karoola'. He transferred to the infantry in 1917 where he fought on the Western Front including the Somme. After the war awaiting passage home be spent time in Paris where he was discovered by Burnand. Hamilton kept diaries of his exploits and in 1920 an archivist of war material obtained them and they went into the State Library of New South Wales.
A recent publication about local people in WW1 by the City of Botany Bay makes a great feature of Robert Hamilton and his diaries, but in preparation of the book the authors were unable to find a picture of him until they found this website and the two aspects of this almost forgotten soldier could then be put together to make a whole story. He marred Edna on his return home and worked as an architect.
"Postings from the Front: The City of Botany Bay and World War 1" Anne Slattery, Jenny MacRitchie, Paula Grunseit. Bayside Council, Mascot, NSW, Australia ISBN: 9780646962665
In his diary he describes having his portrait painted thus; "Whilst having breakfast a M Burnand, a French-Swiss artist of some little fame asked me through the YMCA to pose for him, he being desirous of taking and Australian soldier, as he was making a collection up of all the different nations fighting in the war. Thought I was a typical Aussie, so more out of curiosity and to break the monotony of sightseeing I went. He treated me well and for two days I was well dug in at his home. He has a nice family all speaking English fairly well.
The work was good and he is sending me a reproduction of it to Australia. I took a photo of it. It gave me an insight into a French Home, for as you know, one may be a great friend of a Frenchman but you will never gain access to his home too easily."