Roland Roberts 1896-1918

Pte 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards

Roland Roberts was born in 1896 in Clevedon to Albert and Minnie Roberts. Albert was a music teacher and in 1901 the family lived in Penzance in Cornwall. Albert had served as Band Sergeant in the 4th Hussars. At the time Roland had two brothers, one older and one younger. In 1911, aged fourteen, Roland lived at the Ramillies Barracks in Aldershot, serving in the 2nd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards. His rank was listed as 'boy'. At some point in his life he was awarded a medal by the Royal Humane Society for saving the life of a woman.

Serving in the Guards Division throughout most of the war, he served at the Battle of Mons in 1914 and went on to see some of the most severe fighting on the Western Front. He was wounded three times, gassed once and recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Suffering from his wounds he was transferred to the Labour Corps in the later stages of the war. He was employed with land work at Over Stowey, and it is through this he probably met and married, in 1918, Gladys Laura Pyne of Mount Street, Bridgwater. In October 1918, while in Bridgwater, he managed to catch an infuriated bull, by the horns no less, which was rampaging through the town. However, he died a couple of weeks later, having contracted pneumonia while working at Over Stowey.

After all his fighting, he died in Britain, at his father-in-law's home at 3 North Street, of influenza and double pneumonia, on 10 November 1918, the day before the war ended. He was 22 years old. For eight years he had served in the army. At the time of his death he was recorded as a resident of Newlyn, Cornwall although he would be buried in his wife's home town. Gladys remarried in 1921. His was noted as having a particularly cheerful personality. He was buried in the Wembdon Road Cemetery, the service officiated by Father McAlma, a Roman Catholic Priest. Wounded soldiers from Bridgwater Hospital attended the service and Somerset Light Infantrymen from Taunton bore the coffin. Atop the coffin was a Union Flag and his hat, belt and bugle.