V.C. London Gazette 14.12.1918 'For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice during the attack North of Rosieres, East of Amiens, on 9.8.1918. When the advance was held up by heavy machine-gun fire, Private Beatham dashed forward, and, assisted by one man, bombed and fought the crews of the enemy machine-guns, killing ten of them and capturing ten others, thus facilitating the advance and saving many casualties. When the final objective was reached, although severely wounded, he again dashed forward and bombed a machine-gun, being riddled with bullets and killed in doing so. The valour displayed by this gallant soldier inspired all ranks in a wonderful manner'.
Private Robert Matthew Beatham, V.C., was born at Glassonby, Cumberland, England, in 1894 and migrated alone to Australia when a teenager. When hostilities broke out in 1914 he was working as a Labourer at Geelong, Victoria, and on 8.1.1915 he enlisted in the A.I.F., his Battalion soon after sailing for France. In August 1916 he was wounded and evacuated from the front for six weeks, and in October 1917 was wounded again. Private Beatham won his Victoria Cross in the great advance which commenced on 8.8.1918, otherwise known as Germany's 'Black Day'. On the 9th the 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions, thrusting out a northern flank for Canadian and French units that included cavalry, advanced against enemy held high ground near Lihons. The 7th and 8th Battalions started from near Harbonnires and soon came under enemy air attack and heavy shelling from Lihons. One by one the supporting tanks were knocked out, increasing the German will to resist. The 8th, nevertheless, pressed forward up the hill which lay on its designated Battalion front until held up by the four enemy machine- guns mentioned in Beatham's citation. With the gallant assistance of Lance-Corporal W.G. Nottingham, D.C.M., M.M., Beatham neutralised these deadly posts, and by nightfall the Battalion was within striking distance of the objective on the left but still some way short of it on the right. Finally after a further three days of vicious fighting, the Battalion forced its way over the high ground and accomplished its given task, but just as Beatham was nearing the final objective he was cut down and killed. Private Beatham, V.C., is buried in the Heath Cemetery, Harbonnieres, France.
Reference source: They Dared Mightily, Lionel Wigmore and Bruce Harding, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963.
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