Submitted by Zoe Johnson at the Richmondshire Museum.
Geoffrey Stapleton Rowe Roper
2nd Lieutenant Alexandra Princess of Wales Own, Yorkshire Regiment.
His Canadian service records show that Geoffrey served as a private in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Imperial Army from which he was discharged on the 15th October 1915 to join the Yorkshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant.
He was awarded a Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action on the 25th of August 1916 when ‘he held his platoon with great dash in the assault, and afterwards crawled back to the trenches to make a report. He then returned to his platoon being under close and heavy fire’, this extract was taken from the London Gazette.
Serving with the 7th battalion during the Arras offensive of 1917 on May 9th, 2nd Lt Roper and his men were moved into the line in trenches north of the river Scarpe. The battalion were involved in a bitter fighting around Curly and Cupid trenches and had gone into the line with 18 Officers and 436 other ranks and when they came out on May 15th there were only 5 Officers and 228 men left.
2nd Lt G S R Roper MC was killed in this action on May 12th 1917 aged 27. He is remembered on the Cabaret-Rouge British cemetery, Souchez, 7 miles north of Arras.
He was the son of George and Elizabeth Roper of The Lodge, Gilling West, Richmond; his Father being a local magistrate and county Alderman, holding the position of Mayor of Richmond 1881-84 and 1890-91.
He had a sister Miss Ruth G Roper who was Mayor of Richmond 1935-38.
An exhibition about Geoffrey Roper is on display at the Richmondshire Museum.
This image shows the memorial plaque in Gilling West church
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Not much is known about the service of Sergeant William Bowman of the Yorkshire Regiment. However, Stuart Hodgson a volunteer at the Green Howards Museum noticed something slightly unusual when he came across a photograph of William. The second button on his tunic is covered in black material. There is a good deal of evidence which suggests that some soldiers who had lost relatives during the war started wearing a black button on their tunic, or sometimes a button wrapped in black crepe. This was probably an un-official practice and a blind eye was turned. However, evidence in an Eastern Command Order (1593) of August 1918 states: “Mourning wearing of, by Non-Commissioned Officers and men. The practice by Non-Commissioned Officers and men of covering the second button of the service dress jacket with black material as a symbol of mourning is irregular and will cease forthwith. (War Office Letter No. 54/ Gen No./3025 (QMG 7) dated 19th July 1918)” We do not know who was being mourned, but it appears that William Bowman survived the Great War.
Sgt. Ernest Brooke was born in Brighthouse, Yorkshire in 1886. In civilian life Ernest worked a railway signalman. Ernest’s medal records show he was entitled to the 1914 Star indicating that he was an ‘Old Contemptible’, part of the original British Expeditionary Force that fought in France and Belgium from August 1914. Ernest served with the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment until his death on 4th January 1918. The New Year 1918 that at 11pm (German midnight) on the 31st December 1917, ‘…all guns of artillery fired one round each, whilst machine guns fired two belts of ammunition each ‘to usher in the new year’. The following day, the 2nd Battalion were relieved from the front line and relocated to ‘Hedge Street Tunnels’. On the night of the 4th of January, a fire broke out in the area of the tunnel being occupied by the Battalion, resulting the loss of a further 20 lives from the 2nd Battalion – one of those lives being Ernest Brookes’. In accordance with his wishes, Ernest’s outstanding pay and War Gratuity, totalling £29, 7shillings and 19d to his mother, Hannah.
Submitted by Paul Elliott. My grandfather, Norton Elliott, was born in Rothwell, near Leeds, in 1890 and worked as a miner. In August 1914, at the outbreak of was, he joined the RAMC, but transferred to the RFC in July 1915. He became a mechanic and was promoted to Sergeant in August 1916 and to Flight Sergeant and Chief Mechanic in 1918. He subsequently became a specialist driver and served in the RAF until 1923. He married Evelyne Dobson in 1919. I know nothing of where he served or in which squadrons. At the outbreak of World War 2 he ran away from home to re-join the RAF at the age of 49. My grandmother was reputed to be something of a dragon. He again achieved the rank of Flight Sergeant and served until 1944. He died of cancer in 1970 at the age of 79.