Private Bert Vandenbergh 4572

3rd Battalion

Bert was the second son of Henry and Mary Ann Vandenbergh of Chelsea, Robertson. With his father Charles and brothers John and William, Henry had been an early settler in the Robertson area, first taking up a selection in 1862 at the top of the track that led up from Kiama and Jamberoo.

Bert attended Wallaya Public School at the Pheasant Ground and later passed the Commonwealth Public Service exam, qualifying him to join the Federal postal service. Bert joined the staff at Robertson Post Office in 1903 where he worked for five years before being transferred to Katoomba and later to Guyra in July 1915. He enlisted in Armidale in October 1915.

Three of Bert’s cousins from Robertson, Alfred, Charles and Reginald, also served in the AIF. Their father, William was a Boer War veteran and too old to enlist in World War I, served as a guard at Holsworthy Internment Camp.

Bert arrived in France with the 3rd Battalion in April 1916. The battalion’s first major action in France was at Poziéres, a small village in the Somme Valley which was the scene of bitter and costly fighting in July 1916. Bert was killed during the infamous battle that raged there between the 22nd and 27th July. When the battalion muster was taken on the 27th July, only half its number was present.  They had suffered 498 casualties, 140 listed as killed or missing and 358 wounded.

Bert was a popular young man with a promising future, and news of his death was received with great sadness. The people of Robertson presented Bert’s parents, Henry and Mary Ann Vandenbergh with a memorial to their son in 1918, two years after his death.