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Henry Howey Robson (1894-1964)

South Shields' Victoria Cross hero

Henry Howey Robson was born on 27 May 1894 in Hampden Street, South Shields. He was baptised on 25 July 1894 at South Westoe in Durham. Henry’s father was Edward Robson, a miner, originally from Hetton, County Durham. His mother was Mary Robson nee Morris who was from Monkwearmouth. In 1901 the Robson family were living at 46 Hampden Street in South Shields. At the time of the 1911 census they had moved to Shotton, living at 87 Victoria Street. In 1911 Henry was working as a miner. The 1911 census records that Edward and Mary had ten children in total, with nine surviving till 1911. From the children recorded on various census records, Henry had six brothers and one sister.

When Henry joined the army he served as a private in the 2nd Battalion The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment). At the age of 20, Henry was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 14 December 1914 near Kemmel in Belgium. The citation in the London Gazette on 23 February 1915 describes his actions as follows: “For most conspicuous bravery near Kemmel on the 14th December 1914. During an attack on the German position, when he left his trench under a very heavy fire and rescued a wounded Non-commissioned Officer, and subsequently for making an attempt to bring another wounded man into cover, whilst exposed to a severe fire; In this attempt he was at once wounded, but persevered in his efforts, until rendered helpless by being shot a second time”.

Henry was presented with the Victoria Cross on 12 July 1915 by King George V. In November 1916 Henry returned to France. He was injured on the first day of the Battle of Ancre.

Henry set off from Glasgow in March 1923 to travel to Canada, a trip he paid for by selling his Victoria Cross medal. In Canada he married Alice Maud Martin on 7 February 1924. Interestingly, Alice too had originally been born in the United Kingdom, in Scotland. She was working as a nurse when they married. Henry and Alice had five children; four daughters and a son. In Canada Henry worked as the Sergeant-in-Arms in the Ontario Parliament. Henry died on 4 March 1964 in Toronto, Canada, where he is buried.

In addition to the Victoria Cross, Henry was awarded the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service in World War One.

The following websites give further information and photos of Henry Howey Robson:

North East War Memorial’s Project:

South Tyneside Council:

Great War Forum:

Civil Parish: South Shields

Birth date: 27-May-1894

Death date: 04-Mar-1964

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 46 Hampden Street (1901 census)
87 Victoria Street, Shotton (1911 census)
38 Malvern Street, South Shields (Outward Passenger list from Glasgow to Canada – March 1928)

Education: Mortimer School, South Shields

Religion: Presbyterian (Marriage registration certificate)

Employment: Miner – Putter at Shotton Colliery Pit (1911 census / Outward Passenger list from Glasgow to Canada – March 1928)
Sergeant-In-Arms, Ontario Government, Canada (Death announcement in Ottawa Journal March 4th 1964)

Family: Parents: Edward Robson, Mary Robson nee Morris
Siblings: Elizabeth Hall Robson, Robert M Robson, Edward Robson, Thomas G Robson, James Robson, Morris Robson, Septimus Robson
Spouse: Alice Maud Robson, nee Martin
Children: Henry Robson, Doreen Robson, Patricia Robson, Victoria Robson, Betty Robson

Military service:

Private, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Lothian Regiment)

Medal(s): Victoria Cross, 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

Memorial(s): Bust Robson V.C. South Tyneside Library, South Shields

Gender: Male

Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham