Captain Clement Robertson, VC
2nd Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Clement Robertson of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) was attached to “A” Battalion of the Tank Corps when he carried out an act of gallantry for which he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the first one to be awarded to the Tank Corps.
On 4th October 1917 he was involved in the British attack by 21st Division between Polygon Wood and the Menin Road. Four tanks were allotted to the 21st Division.
Fire from German pillboxes caused heavy casualties to the British infantrymen as they advanced through the terrible muddy conditions of what had been the stream of the Polygonbeek. With the support of one of the tanks the German pillboxes were captured and the higher ground overlooking the Reutel valley was reached by the supporting British infantry battalions.
Award of The Victoria Cross
Captain Clement Robertson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour in leading his tanks into the attack whilst under heavy fire from the enemy. The citation for his Victoria Cross reads:
“For most conspicuous bravery in leading his Tanks in attack under heavy shell, machine-gun and rifle fire. Capt. Robertson, knowing the risk of the Tanks missing the way, continued to lead them on foot, guiding them carefully and patiently towards their objective although he must have known that his action would almost inevitably cost him his life.
This gallant officer was killed after his objective had been reached, but his skilful leading had already ensured successful action.
His utter disregard of danger and devotion to duty afford an example of outstanding valour.” (1)
Place of Burial
Captain Robertson was 28 years old when he died. He was the son of Major John A Robertson (late of the Royal Artillery) and Mrs Frances O C Robertson from Delgany in County Wicklow, Ireland.
He is believed to be buried in Oxford Road Cemetery in grave reference Plot III, Row F, Grave 7.
Tank Memorial Ypres Salient
The Tank Memorial Ypres Salient commemorates the men who fought in the Heavy Branch Machine Gun Corps and The Tank Corps, and especially those who lost their lives:
Guide to British Awards for Gallantry or Meritorious Service in WW1
For information about the Victoria Cross and other British gallantry medals see our page at:
Cemeteries in the Ypres Salient, Belgium
For a list of cemeteries with their locations, including Oxford Road Cemetery, see our listing at:
The London Gazette, No. 30433, dated 14th December 1917 (Fifth Supplement to the London Gazette, 18th December 1917, page 13222)