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Those Who Came After The Original 500

Cpl George Roach (Roche) Regt # 4595
Donated by Jim Roache

George Roach (Roche) served with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment,1st Battalion, from 22 April 1918 until 9July 1919 -- 445 days. He was 24 years of age and 5'8" at enlistment.

With Draft #55, George left St. John's by train for Halifax 11 June 1918, embarked overseas 27 October and disembarked in France joining 1st Battalion 3  November. He missed the big show which had begun with the GERMAN APRIL OFFENSIVE (1918) by a matter of hours!

The 1st Battalion had marched northward to Zudausques, near St. Omer, for a few days at the rear before moving into the front line or into work parties near Ypres. A major German offensive had begun on March 21, 1918 with 71 German divisions attacking on a 50-mile front.

The action played itself out for seven months. The 9th Division's final attack of the war went ahead on the morning of 25 October and ended when the order came to consolidate and defend the ground already taken. Late the next day, the Battalion retired to the reserve position.

George's timing could not have been better. Plans had been in place for a forced crossing of the Scheldt River on 11 November, but the Armistice fortunately made this unnecessary.

George was made Lance Corporal in France 21 January 1919 and Corporal 25 March 1919 - a L/Cpl was (in most cases) second in command of a section (10 men); a Cpl was in charge of a section. In his file, he writes that he served in Belgium (Flanders), France and Germany.

Late in April, 1st Battalion joined the 2nd (Reserve) Battalion at Hazeley Down Camp in England. George left Rouen Camp for Le Havre on the 22nd and arrived Winchester next day. A large draft of Newfoundlanders sailed for home in May 1919. George's contingent departed Liverpool 22 May onboard The Corsican, arriving NF 1 June.  He was honourably discharged 9 July, 1919.

On 26th August 1919, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was disbanded.

George was eligible for the War Service Gratuity and he received a Riband of Victory Medal (2 inches) after he had returned to NF.

In his discharge papers, he stated he was "NOT in a position to resume civilian occupation. No details are provided and his medical report lists no problems. Having entered the Regiment as a blacksmith, he left rated Engineer, Classification E, Medical Rating A-1. Nevertheless, he apparently dealt with the Civil Re-establishment Committee Vocational Officer 24 June 1919 and agreed that he would "take up work as a chauffeur in a few weeks."

This never happened. He fished out of New Bedford, MA after spending some time in NF. There is a strange notation in his medical file. It reads "He complains of no disability". I don't know if that's "Army speak" for simply saying he was in good health or if he was examined for some complaint which the doctor dismissed. At the end of the form they write, "repatriation".

There is a Casualty Form - Active Service Form attached - but it contains nothing suggestive of injury. In all forms on file the name is spelled two ways - ROACH and ROCHE. After moving to New Bedford, in a note to brother Patrick dated 6/2/1922, he spelled his name ROCHE.

His discharge papers, which he signed, give his DOB as 21 October 1894 (Topsail). The 1921 NF Census gives his birth date as June 1893 and his age as 28, but 5 October 1893 is the date given in the Family Bible.

Dying unmarried and intestate in New Bedford 11 February 1945, he was the last surviving adult sibling, outliving brothers, J. William and Patrick J., as well as half-sister Mary F. (Roache) Browne.

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Military Records Contact: Daniel B. Breen

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