Tragic life: Terry Nixon is organising a memorial service for Robert Tibbs (inset) who died at Pozieres in France on July 25 1916. Photo: Mark LoganAlthough Gallipoli is etched into our minds as our biggest military disaster, it’s in Fromelles, Francethat Australia suffered its worst day in military history.
On July 19 1916, in what was described by one commander as a “tactical abortion”,Australian troops attacked German lines, held a small section overnight and were expelled with casualties of 5533, including 1917 dead and 470 prisoners.
Four days later on July 23 at Pozieres in France,Robert Henry Tibbs, the only surviving son of Blayney businessman William Tibbs, who owned a grocery shop where ‘Billy and Me’ cafe now stands, was launched into battle at Pozieres with the 2ndbattalion.
Even though he had served gallantly at Gallipoli for a few months prior to being shipped to the western front, he only survived two days at Pozieres.
After heavy bombardments on the 25thof July, Private Robert Tibbs, whose photograph now hangs in the Blayney masonic lodge, had died, his body was never found.
When history buff Terry Nixon was shown the image of Robert Tibbs he decided that the life of the 29 year old soldier, whose brother had committed suicide on Blayney railway station, needed to be commemorated.
“His (Robert Tibbs) death must have really broken the family,” Mr Nixon said, “He had sisters of course, but his brother had an infatuation with a woman who had married in Sydney and shot himself, in front of Robert, leaving Robert as the only male offspring.”
To commemorate the life of Robert Tibbs and others that served and died during the first world war, Mr Nixon is organising a remembrance service at the Blayney Memorial Gates at Carrington Park this Sunday July 24, at 11am.
With the assistance of local historian Gwenda Stanbridge, who has put together a detailed history of Robert Tibbs life,descendants from the Tibbs family have been contacted and will hopefully be at the memorial service.
“At least one of Tibbs’ grand nephews will be coming on the day,’ Mr Nixon said.
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