b. 02/06/1891 Highbury, London. d. 21/01/1982 Stanhope Bretby, Derbyshire.
Frank Crowther Roberts (1892-1982) was born in Highbury, Middlesex on 2nd June 1892. He was the son of the Reverend Frank Roberts, Vicar of St John’s, Southall. He was educated at St Lawence College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Worcestershire Regiment in 1911 and went with the 1st Battalion to Egypt where he won a boxing trophy in 1913, after two years’ service. At the outbreak of war he was a Lieutenant.
His battalion moved to France in November 1915, where after less than two months he was awarded the DSO at Neuve Chapelle. He led a party of 25 men in a raid on an enemy trench, the first genuinine raid to be carried out on the Western Front. The party took the Germans by surprise, bayoneted 30 of them and returned to the British lines after only 4 minutes. Later that year, he became a Captain and gained the Military Cross in 1917 at the Battle of Ypres. He was Officer Commanding the 1st Battalion from 1917-18, and later he was Brigade Major for 23rd Brigade between March and October while the actual CO was absent in England.
During the period 22nd March to 2nd April 1918 west of Somme and at Pargny, France, Lieutenant Colonel Roberts showed exceptional military skill in dealing with the many very difficult situations of the retirement and amazing endurance and energy in inspiring all ranks under his command. On one occasion the enemy attacked a village and had practically cleared it of our troops when Colonel Roberts got together an improvised party and led a counter-attack which temporarily drove the enemy out of the village, thus covering the retirement of troops on their flanks. The success of this action was entirely due to his personal valour and skill.
He was gazetted for the VC on 8th May 1918, and was presented with the medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 1st June 1918. After the 1914-18 War, ' Culley ' Roberts served in a variety of Staff appointments in Egypt, the Rhine Army and in the Far East, before transferring to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on accelerated promotion in 1927. After further service in India, the Middle East, with the Iraqi Army and as a Staff Officer in Northern Ireland, he was selected to command 1st Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1937. He subsequently served as a Brigade Commander in India and as G.O.C. 48 Inf. Div. (T.A.) before retiring in December 1939.
He had married Winifred Wragg in 1932 and on retirement settled in Bretby, near Burton-on-Trent, his wife's home. There were no children and Mrs. Roberts died in December 1980. Frank turned 90 a fortnight after the VC/GC Reunion dinner in London on 18th May 1981, and he died at Four Winds, Stanhope Bretby, Burton on Trent on 12th January 1982. He was the last of the 1918 Spring Offensive VCs to pass away. He was cremated at Bretby Crematorium, and his ashes were interred in his wife’s family grave in Bretby Churchyard.
In his will he left £285,432 and bequeathed his medals to the Worcestershire Regiment, along with a handsome bequest. Apart from the VC, DSO and MC, he was also awarded the 1914-15 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, Gold Medal of the Order of Mohamed Ali, Sudan Medal and clasp and Iraq Medal. They are displayed (replica group) in the Worcestershire Regiment Museum, Worcester.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT MUSEUM, WORCESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: BRETBY CHURCHYARD, BRETBY, DERBYSHIRE. ASHES INTERRED.
Frank Crowther Roberts' medals (across the middle of the picture) including his VC, OBE, DSO and MC on display at the Worcestershire Regiment Museum, Worcester (Feb 2013).
Islington War Memorial