The Marker is All that Remains, Until We Look Further

This showed up in my inbox yesterday as they do periodically. I’m always moved, but something about this one struck me as special, Maybe because of the linked blogs military connection, or because he’s a good writer or just something about the guy himself. I don’t know, but I want to share. From WeaponMan.

This small, but beautifully worked, marker was nailed, Christlike, to a cross that marked the end of a man’s world and the beginning of the Commonwealth War Graves Commisison’s responsibility for caring for his last remains. When his daughter, who somehow received the temporary cross, presumably when Richard de Rupe Roche’s grave was marked with a permanent stone by the Commission after the war, passed away, the marker which had been on the cross came into the white-gloved hands of the curators of the Imperial War Museum in London, who handle and preserve the century-old marker with care, perhaps even reverence.

Name plate from temporary grave marker of (409) Corporal Richard de Rupe Roche who served during the First World War on the Western Front with the Queen’s Westminster Rifles (16th Battalion, The London Regiment). Corporal de Rupe Roche died on active service on 8 January 1915 (aged 34). He was the elder son of Captain Richard Roche RN and Maria Jane Roche, and husband of Ethel Roche of Culver Cottage, Fletcher Road, Horsell, Woking. He is buried in Houplines Communal Cemetery Extension. (Information derived from the Commonwealth War Graves ‘Debt of Honour’ database). The cross belonged to his daughter Miss Barbara Roche who died in 1981; Miss Roche’s only memory of her father was waving goodbye to him as he left by train when she was only five years old.

Multiply that by several million, translate it into all the languages of the European continent, and behold the human picture of First World War.

The IWM does not say it, but Barbara, born 1913, was Richard’s and his wife Ethel’s only child. When Richard died, he left a substantial estate (for the time) of £2,365 15s 6d. (For those not old enough to recall pre-decimalization English money, those figures denote two thousand, three hundred sixty-five pounds, fifteen shillings and sixpence… people would usually say two thousand, three hundred sixty-five pounds, fifteen and six. Don’t get us started on guineas.

Says the IWM of this little artifact:

Name plate from a temporary grave marker of (409) Corporal Richard de Rupe Roche who served during the First World War on the Western Front with the Queen’s Westminster Rifles (16th Battalion, The London Regiment). Corporal de Rupe Roche died on active service on 8 January 1915 (aged 34). He was the elder son of Captain Richard Roche RN and Maria Jane Roche, and husband of Ethel Roche of Culver Cottage, Fletcher Road, Horsell, Woking. He is buried in Houplines Communal Cemetery Extension. (Information derived from the Commonwealth War Graves ‘Debt of Honour’ database). The cross belonged to his daughter Miss Barbara Roche who died in 1981 and was a close friend of the donor’s sister, to whom she left all her personal property. Miss Roche’s only memory of her father was waving goodbye to him as he left by train when she was only five years old. Several photographs and two letters of condolence were acquired with the marker (see correspondence file). One photograph shows a simple wood cross with the grave marker fixed to it at Houplines Military Cemetery and the others show Miss Barbara Roche as a young girl with her mother Ethel and a separate photograph of Corporal Roche.

For all their effort, the IWM has missed some details of Richard Roche the father and Richard de Rupe Roche. Fortunately, amateur historians memorializing Isle of Wight notables have unearthed them, and historians far away in western America have found more. These details reflect well on the men and their family. Captain Roche served in a ship in support of the British force that occupied the north end of San Juan Island in Washington (while American Marines occupied the south end, and diplomats wrangled over the border). Roche père did considerable exploration there; some terrain features are named after him to this day. He passed on in 1888 in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, so at least he did not live to see his son go to war — either time.

In World War I, Corporal Roche received a Mention in Dispatches, a significant valor award. It turns out he was already a veteran who fought and was wounded in the Boer War.

Private 4766 Richard de Rupe Roche served with 50 Company (2nd Hampshire) 17 Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry in the South African War. He was ‘Wounded Dangerously on 28 Mar 1901 at Rondal’, and awarded the Queen’s South Africa (QSA) Medal with Clasps: Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, Rhodesia, South Africa 1901.

He would have been just 20 in that war. He was well enough on his return to England for sport:

Richard de Rupe Roche is believed to have played for Wakefield Rugby Football Club in the inaugural season of 1901/2.

via The Marker is All that Remains, Until We Look Further | WeaponsMan

Keep reading, including the comments. Here is the reason, we have Memorial Day, and why it is so special, and why Britain and the Commonwealth have Remembrance Day. Hognose’s last sentence, although obvious, is one we must never forget.

“In war, the best fall; it has to have a dysgenic effect on a nation.”

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

5 Responses to The Marker is All that Remains, Until We Look Further

  1. the unit says:

    “Roche père did considerable exploration there; some terrain features are named after him to this day. He passed on in 1888 in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, so at least he did not live to see his son go to war — either time.”
    That problematic for me. Lost oldest son at 19, don’t remember every minute of his existence, but cherish memories of the contributions he made.
    “In war, the best fall; it has to have a dysgenic effect on a nation.”
    Yep, thus we got now more Donna Shalala’s… who said “we didn’t send the best and brightest to Vietnam.” (1995, Clinton administration). I’ve read several comments trying to explain what she meant. One can decide for themselves, but the words speak clearly for me. I don’t need SCOTUS opinion that intentions mean more than definitions of words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Agree!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Myself, I saw ‘the best and brightest’ of the American Marine Corps Force and Battalion Recon in the Nam! And we buried a few, RIP.

    Btw, both of my Irish Brit grandfather’s fought in WW 1, and both in the Trenches and survived. But a whole generation was decimated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Yep, almost literally.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. the unit says:

    And then there are the Rosie The Rivater types at home, some 350000. And nurses on the front even then. Maybe some corpsemen!

    Liked by 1 person

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