b. 07/04/1892 Tipperary, Ireland. d. 04/03/1974 Shalford, Surrey.
George Rowland Patrick Roupell (1892-1974) was born at Tipperary, Ireland on 7th April 1892. His father, Colonel Francis Frederick Fyler Roupell, was commissioned in the 70th Regiment of Foot on 5th October 1867. He was Adjutant 1876-1878 and Deputy Assistant Adjutant General (Musketry) Bengal 1881-1883. He served in the Afghan War and on the Masoud Waziri Expedition 1880-1881. His father was promoted to Lieutnant Colonel and given command of 1st East Surrey Regiment until his retirement in 1903. He was later a musketry instructor in the Great War, but the strain of the appointment led to his death in 1916. George’s mother was Edith Maria nee Bryden, and he had two brothers and a sister.
George was educated at Rossall 1907-10 and trained at the Royal Military College Sandhurst. He was commissioned on 2nd March 1912 and promoted to Lieutenant on 29th April 1914. He was serving in Dublin when war broke out and deployed to France with the Battalion on 16th August. Following the Battle of the Aisne, he was given command of a company. He was mentioned in despatches in January 1915, just prior to his actions on Hill 60 near Ypres in April 1915, which would earn him the VC.
On 20th April 1915, when he was commanding a company of his battalion in a front trench on "Hill 60," which was subjected to a most severe bombardment throughout the day. Though wounded in several places, he remained at his post and led his company in repelling a strong German assault. During a lull in the bombardment he had his wounds hurriedly dressed, and then insisted in returning to his trench, which was again being subjected to severe bombardment. Towards evening, his company being dangerously weakened, he went back to his battalion headquarters, represented the situation to his Commanding Officer, and brought up reinforcements, passing backwards and forwards over ground swept by heavy fire. With these reinforcements he held his position throughout the night, and until his battalion was relieved next morning.
Roupell was evacuated to England due to his wounds on 23rd April. He received his VC from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 12th July 1915. He was also awarded the Order of St George 4th Class (Russia) on 25th August 1915. He was then appointed Temporary Captain in September 1915 and returned to France on 8th September 1915 as Adjutant. He would be promoted to Captain on 21st April 1916. He was then appointed GSO3 HQ XVII Corps on 25th May and GSO3 HQ Third Army from 1st September to 28th December 1916.
On 26th October 1916 he was returning to England to attend his father’s funeral when HMT Queen was halted by German destroyers. Roupell escaped into boats disguised as a crewman before the ship was sunk and had to row the rest of the way. He was then appointed Brigade Major of 105th Brigade in December 1916 until May 1918.
Just after the end of the war, he was appointed acting Lieutenant Colonel and Commanding Officer. He then received the appointment of GSO3 Vologda North Russian Force from 1st – 21st July 1919. On 20th July 1919 he was taken prisoner on the Archangel front while visiting a White Russian unit that had mutinied. He was held in Butyrka prison, Moscow in very poor conditions and not released until May 1920. In his absence, his position was held by Captain A M Toye VC. He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre on 7th January 1919.
George was a member of the VC Guard at the interment of the Unknown Warrior on 11th November 1920. He married Doris Phoebe nee Sant on 30th March 1921 in London. She was the daughter of Captain Mowbray Sant, Chief Constable of Surrey. They had two children, Phoebe Irene Sant (born 1922) and Peter George Francis Mowbray (born 1925).
In 1922 he attended the Staff College, Camberley. He was appointed Staff Captain Northern Command from 1924 to 1926. He was appointed Major in 1928 and became GSO2 Canadian Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario from 1929-1931. He then commanded the East Surrey Depot at Kingston upon Thames from 1931-1934. He then held an appointment in China before commanding the East Surrey Regiment as Lieutenant Colonel until 1938. At the outbreak of WWII, he was commanding officer of 36th Brigade in the BEF.
In 1940, he was forced to avoid capture by the Germans and was protected by the French resistance until 1942. He then became Commander of the 105th Infantry Brigade. He retired from the Army as a Honorary Brigadier in 1946. He was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey in 1953. In 1956, he was created a Companion of Bath whilst Colonel of the South East Surrey Home Guard.
Sadly, George’s wife died in 1958, and he re-married to Rachel Kennedy nee Bruce on 3rd November 1959. George died at his home, Little Chartham, Shalford, near Guildford, Surrey on 4th March 1974 and was cremated at Guildford Crematorium, where his ashes were scattered. In addition to his VC and CB, he was awarded the 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf, 1939-45 Star, 1939-45 Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953, Russian Order of St George 4th Class and French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star. His medals are held privately.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: GUILDFORD CREMATORIUM, GUILDFORD, SURREY. ASHES SCATTERED.
All Saints Church, Kingston, Surrey
Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin (Thomas Stewart)