Courtesy of the Benalla Family History Group
Lieutenant Robert Ievers Bourke
St Patrick’s Catholic School Roll of Honour
Born: 7 April 1885 - Carlton, Victoria
Enlisted: 14 June 1915 aged 30
Unit: 22nd Battalion, 3rd Reinforcement (SERN: 1885)
Served: Egypt, Gallipoli & Western Front
Died: 25 July 1952 - Mooroopna, Victoria
Known as “Bob”, Robert was a son of Daniel Bourke and Frances (Fanny) Ievers. His grandparents, Michael and Catherine Bourke settled in Pakenham back in 1844. They built up extensive pastoral holdings, as well as other business interests including the La Trobe Inn (later “Bourke’s Hotel”) on the Gippsland Road. Bob’s father Daniel was a long-serving Berwick Shire councillor. Robert was also a grandson of William Ievers Senior, a prominent Melbourne real estate agent and City Councillor (1). Bob grew up at “Mount Bourke” (where Heritage Springs estate now is) and attended St Patrick’s School before his family moved to “Llowalong” near Stratford (2). By 1909, Robert was an auctioneer at Benalla.
Bob enlisted in the Army in June 1915 during a surge in recruitments following the Anzac landings at Gallipoli. Just over 30 years of age at the time, Bob actually declared himself to be two years younger than he really was (3). He served with the 22nd Battalion at Gallipoli and then on the Western Front. Bob was regularly promoted, eventually reaching the rank of Lieutenant. In August 1916, Bob was shot in the back and chest during the Battle of Pozieres while in October 1917 he received a flesh wound to the chest. In May 1918 he was wounded at Ville-sur-Ancre, this time receiving severe wounds to the left leg, which fractured his tibia and fibula. This left him with one leg shorter than the other, which caused him difficulty for the rest of his life (4). After recovering in England, Bob returned to Australia in early 1919. He settled back at Benalla where he became manager of the Victorian Produce Company. From 1928, he was a partner in Bourke and Thewlis, a local stock and station agency. Continuing the strong Bourke family tradition of community service, Bob was a Justice of the Peace, President of the local RSL, a prominent Catholic layman and active in the local horse racing and cricket clubs. Bob never married, but helped to support and educate the children of his brother William, who died in 1932 leaving behind a young family (5). During WWII, Bob enlisted in the Army for home service, again declaring himself to be younger than he really was. He served with Headquarters Southern Command in NSW and Victoria as a hirings officer. In 1942 he was appointed as Captain. In 1944 Bob was assessed as no longer being fit for strenuous duty due to his age and was retired (6). He returned to civilian life in northern Victoria, and served as a valuer for several shires. He died at Mooroopna, near Shepparton in July 1952 and is buried in Melbourne Cemetery (7).
The assistance of Robert’s nephew, the late Daniel Bourke and cousin Dr Michael Bourke is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) Bourke (1965), p. 5
(2) NWFHG (2010), p. 30
(3) NAA, CRS B2455, BOURKE, R I
(4) NAA B73, M42450 - Bourke, Robert Ievers
(5) Information supplied by the late Daniel Bourke, nephew of Robert Bourke.
(6) NAA, CRS B884, V9036
(7) The Advocate, 28/8/1952, p. 12