Robert Croker was born in Nabiac in 1861.1 He married Sarah Jane Basham in 1889 and they had eight children.2
Three of their boys Robert Jnr, Wyllie and Harry enlisted and went overseas in what was referred to as The Great War. Wyllie was killed in 19173 while Robert and Harry were involved in the Battle of Fromelles where Robert was wounded and returned to Australia.4 Harry was listed as Missing in Action before notification was received that he had been killed by Germans on 19 July 1916.5 His whereabouts however remained a mystery until 2010 when German burial pits at Pheasant Wood were discovered and Harry’s remains were officially identified using family DNA.6
Robert and Robert Jnr were civic minded men and, as carpenters, were involved with building the Failford Methodist Memorial Church in 1924. The church has three memorial windows, one to Charles Basham, a second to the Croker boys and the third to all the young men who lost their lives from Nabiac and the surrounding areas.7 The church was relocated to Nabiac in 1972 after church numbers dwindled.8
In 1928 the Nabiac community met to discuss the creation of a war memorial. They chose a site beside the police station and selected the design created by Nabiac Public School principal G Alec Campbell. Robert Croker was awarded the contract to build the memorial and hired other war veterans to help him. The dedication service was on ANZAC Day 1932 and some 60 returned soldiers marched to the new memorial where Mrs Sarah Jane Croker unveiled the inscriptions. A difficult day for a mother who had lost two sons to war.9
Robert and Sarah Jane are buried at Failford Cemetery.
Author: Marilyn Boyd
1 NSW BDM, birth index for Robert Croker, No. 8580/1861.
2 NSW BDM, marriage index, No. 5048/1889. Various NSW BDM birth records from 1892-1910.
3 NAA: B2455, Wyllie Croker.
4 NAA: B2455, Robert Croker.
5 NAA: B2455, Harry Croker.
6 Families and Friends of the First AIF Inc, https://fffaif.org.au/?p=8651; Patrick Lindsay, “Our Darkest Day”, http://www.worldhistory.biz/download567/OurDarkestDay.pdf
7 The Methodist, 10 January 1925, 12.
9 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 27 April 1932, 4.