Robert Summerfield

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Robert Summerfield
Summerfield Robert.jpg
AWM photo PO2466.226
Personal Information
Date of Birth 5 Apr 1918
Place of Birth Armadale, Western Australia
Death 20 May 1941
Age at Enlistment 21 years, 6 months
Occupation Labourer
Religion Church of England
Address Serpentine, Western Australia
Next of Kin Brother , Mr Harold Summerfield
Military Information
Reg Number WX492
Date of Enlistment 7 Nov 1939
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion
Military Movement
1st Departure from Australia
Journey Dates 20 Apr 1940 ‒ 7 Jun 1940
Transport Details HMT Y3 Nevasa Fremantle to Port Tewfik, Egypt via Colombo
Journey Dates 10 Apr 1941 ‒ 12 Apr 1941
Transport Details SS Pennland Alexandria, Egypt to Pireaus, Greece
Journey Dates 25 Apr 1941 ‒ 26 Apr 1941
Transport Details SS Thurland Castle Megara Greece to Crete
Post War Details
Fate KIA 20 May 1941 Crete
Monument(s) ANZAC Memorial Park (Byford)
WA State War Memorial
Australian War Memorial Australian War Memorial
Medals 1939-45 Star
Africa Star
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45

War Service

Enlisted at Subiaco and eight days later he was taken on strength by the 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion Following some basic training in Perth the unit embarked in Fremantle on 30 Nov 1939 for Sydney to train with the rest of the 6th Division. Returned to Perth in early 1940 and was granted pre-embarkation leave from 21 - 29 Mar 1940. However, Robert was late returning, resulting in him being charged with being AWOL from 4:00pm on 29 Mar - 9:30am on 3 Apr 1940. Found guilty he was fined £2 ($4), and forfeited another 5 days pay (5/- or 50 cents per day).

On 20 Apr 1940 along with the rest of his battalion he boarded the HMT Y3 Nevasa for Kantana in Egypt, disembarking there on 19 May 1940. The voyage was via Colombo, and while there, Robert had been AWOL from 8:30pm until 10:00pm on 3 May 1940. He was fined 6/- (60 cents). He was also AWOL in Palestine from 10:00pm on 28 Mar until 10:00pm on 30 Mar 1941, for which he was fined £3 ($6) and forfeited 2 days pay.

After arriving in the Middle East, the 2/11th trained in Palestine and Egypt. A decision to reorganise Australian infantry brigades along British lines, with three battalions instead of four, meant the 2/11th was now part of the 19th Brigade, but it remained part of the 6th Division. The battalion went into action for the first time at Bardia on 5 Jan 1941 and, as part of the Allied advance into Italian-occupied Libya, subsequently fought at Tobruk on 21-22 Jan 1941, and to secure Derna airfield on 25 Jan 1941. It was advancing to the south of Benghazi when the Italians surrendered on 7 Feb 1941.

On 10 Apr 1941 they embarked on the SS Pennland in Alexandria harbour for Pireas in Greece. The Allied forces, however, were unable to hold back the attacking Germans. The 2/11th withdrew from its initial positions at Kalabaka and remained on the move until it occupied rearguard positions at Brallos Pass a week later. It fought and slowed the Germans there on 24 April and then continued its withdrawal to Megara, where it was evacuated by sea aboard SS Thurland Castle during the night of 25 Apr 1941.

The battalion landed on Crete the next day. It was subsequently deployed with the 2/1st Australian Infantry Battalion to defend Retimo airfield, which was held tenaciously for ten days following the landing of German paratroops on 20 May 1941. Although Robert was initially reported missing, his records were later amended to indicate that he had been killed in action on 20 May 1941 as he had been buried on 21 May 194 at Rethymno, Crete by the German troops.

  • Suda Bay War Cemetery, Crete
  • Robert's gravesite


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