Lance-Corporal C G Robertson VC MM

Born in Penrith, Cumberland on 4th July 1879, Lance Corporal Charles Graham Robertson VC came to Dorking as a boy when his father was employed as a gardener at Riverdale, Pixham. After attending St. Martin's and Dorking High schools, Robertson joined the army and served in the Boer War, in the Imperial Yeomanry. Robertson came to regard the Boer War as dishonourable and preferred to forget his part in it. A member of Old Dorking Swimming Club, Robertson became a railway booking clerk, and also played football for Dorking.

Robertson was 38 years old, and a lance-corporal in the 10th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 8/9 March 1918 west of Polderhoek Chateau, Belgium, Lance-Corporal Robertson having repelled a strong attack by the enemy, realised that he was being cut off and sent for reinforcements, while remaining at his post with only one man, firing his Lewis gun and killing large numbers of the enemy. No reinforcements arrived, so he withdrew, and then was forced to withdraw again to a defended post where he got on top of the parapet with a comrade, mounted his gun and continued firing. His comrade was almost immediately killed and he was severely wounded, but managed to crawl back with his gun, having exhausted his ammunition. His VC was gazetted on 9th April 1918.

The local Dorking council was keen to honour Robertson, but he refused any such adulation. He accepted a gold watch but asked that any other money raised be put to charitable use. In December 1918 thousands turned out to watch him process by horse-drawn carriage to the Red Lion Hotel where the presentation was made. After the war Robertson returned to the railway. During the Second World War Robertson was back in uniform as a sergeant in the Home Guard. He died in Dorking on 10th may 1954. His widow presented his medals to the Royal Fusiliers Museum in 1977.

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by Stephen Luscombe