The Tank Museum | Killed 4 November, 1918

Killed 4 November, 1918

Frederick Robinson was the last member of the Tank Corps to be killed in the First World War.

2nd November 2018

The last member of the Tank Corps to be killed in the First World War has been identified – and he died just days before the Armistice in the very last tank battle.

The Tank Museum and historian Stephen Pope have uncovered the poignant story of the soldier who was aged 26 when he died on November 4, 1918.

Frederick Robinson, credit to Redbridge MuseumEric Robinson took part in the very first tank attack on September 15, 1916, and served throughout the rest of the war, receiving injuries and being awarded the Military Cross and Bar.

Frederick Robinson was born in Wood Green, London, on the 2nd October 1892.  Frederick – known as Eric – trained as an engineer and at the outbreak of war joined the Royal Naval Air Service. As a keen motorcyclist he moved to the RNAS Armoured Car Division and then the Army’s Motor Machine Gun Service (MMGS) where he was commissioned as an officer.

The MMGS was where many of the first tank crews were recruited from; Eric was among them and trained as a tank commander.

He and his crew fought in the first ever tank battle at Flers-Courcelette in France in September 1916. Despite a friendly fire incident he was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in command after his crew had to dig out their tank.

In the following two months he was commanding two tanks that were hit and destroyed. He returned home for Christmas in 1916 and married his sweetheart Elsie Mapley. In 1917 Robinson led three tanks at the Battle of Arras and also fought at Passchendaele.

During the German Spring Offensive in 1918 he was wounded, but returned to be awarded a Bar to his MC at the Battle of Amiens, for moving on foot under heavy German shellfire to direct his tanks.

At the final large battle of the war, The Battle of the Sambre, on November 4, during which famed war poet Wilfred Owen was killed, Robinson commanded tanks that supported his unit during the fighting.

Robinson died as the tanks were withdrawing, but the exact circumstances are unknown.

He was buried where he fell, but his body was later re-interred at the Highland Cemetery, Le Cateau.