Hector Ernest Robinson was born in Pyap, South Australia on 8 April 1900. He schooled as a cadet in Mildura, Victoria and enlisted in the AIF at Mildura on 31 July 1918. On 7 November 1918 he embarked on the S.S. Carpentaria. At Auckland it was quarantined and recalled to Australia. Transhipped to S.S. Riverina and RTA Sydney on 28 November 1918 and Melbourne 29 November 1918.
On 24 November 1920 he embarked from Sydney on Melusia. On 13 December 1920 he was working in Rabaul as the Clerk, Lands and Survey. On his 21st birthday, 8 April 1921, Robinson was awarded the title of Honorable Corporal. He was transferred to Civil Administration in Rabaul on 9 May 1921. By 1928 he was working as an accountant for the Treasury Madang and in November 1928 moved to Treasury Rabaul.
The earliest correspondence in this collection to his girl friend or fiancee ‘Connie’, Constance Hollowell Lewis of Red Cliffs in Victoria is from 1928. Constance Hollowell Lewis was born on 21 June 1907 in Liverpool, U.K. Her father had moved to Australia around 1923 and opened a drapery shop at Red Cliffs. Robinson writes from Madang and gives information on the place and his work, and incidentally reveals attitudes and values of the time. The letters continue into the early 1930s.
Hector and Connie married on 24 June 1931 and their son, Albert Conrad Robinson, was born in New Guinea in 1938. Soon after the start of the War, in December 1942, Connie Robinson and Albert were evacuated and went to live in Victoria. Hector stayed on and the correspondence resumed briefly until the Japanese invasion on 23 January 1942. Some documents relating to the evacuation of the women from Rabaul are included.
Unknown to Connie, Hector Robinson, as one of the senior civil officials in Rabaul, joined two others (Gordon Thomas and R.L. ‘Nobby’ Clark) to carry white surrender flags down from ‘Refuge Gully’ to meet the Japanese. He and other whites were interned and in June shipped away. On 1 July, Robinson, the other civilian internees and over 800 Australian prisoners of war captured in Rabaul, were on the Japanese transport, the Montevideo Maru, when it was sunk by an American submarine off the coast of the Philippines. No internees or prisoners of war survived.
Connie received one letter from Hector while he was imprisoned. It was one of those dropped by Japanese aircraft over Port Moresby. The letters of women, sharing Connie’s distress about the uncertain of the whereabouts of her husband, are an important part of the collection.
Connie re-married, Lt. William John Martin Robertson, in 1948. W.J. Robertson had worked in Lae, New Guinea, from 1946, as a Traffic Control Officer when Connie was a Bookkeeper for W.R. Carpenter. They were divorced in Port Moresby in 1961.
Note provided by Professor Hank Nelson.
• Letters from Hector Robinson to Connie Robinson (née Constance Hollowell Lewis), 1928-1935
• Certificates, memorabilia, official correspondence, circular notices and some personal correspondence, 1933-1942.
• Letters to Connie Robinson, related documents and a photograph, 1942-1946. See Finding aids for details.