1914 DCM to Captain F.E. Roe 1 Rifle Brigade

The 1914 Distinguished Conduct Medal to Corporal (later Captain) Frank Edward Mervyn Roe realised £1092 in Warwick and Warwick’s auction on Wednesday 17th August 2011.

Frank Edward Mervyn Roe was born in Salisbury on 21st January 1876 and was educated at Portsmouth Grammar School. He joined HMS Britannia as a Naval Cadet on 24th January 1890; served as a Midshipman on the North American Station; promoted sub-Lieut on 10th November 1896, Lieutenant on 31st December 1897 and Lieut-Commander on 31st December 1906. He served for ten years as the Navigating Officer on the Mediterranean, Cape, Channel and East India Stations. He retired from the Royal Navy in 1907. For his services during the South African War 1900-2 he was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal while serving on H.M.S. Sybille.

It seems strange that with the nation at war, a retired naval officer elected to enlist in the army as a Private soldier shortly after the outbreak of war. He enlisted as a Rifleman in the Rifle Brigade and was promoted Corporal on 13th October 1914. He landed in France on the 23rd November 1914 and therefore missed out on the award of the 1914 star by a single day.

The award of the DCM was announced in the London Gazette dated 1st April 1915:

“For gallant conduct on 18th December 1914, in voluntarily going to reconnoitre the enemy’s trenches and remaining out for a period of three hours in a position of danger.”

He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade on 7th February 1915. De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour records that he was severely wounded just 3 days before being commissioned by a shell on the 4th February near Ploegsteert Wood. He was sent home to recover and returned to France on 14th May 1915 and joined the 12th Battalion Rifle Brigade. He was severely wounded a second time by a bullet in the thigh on 9th July 1915 and sent home again.

He was mentioned in F.M. French’s Despatches published in the London Gazette dated 1st January 1916.

On the 9th March 1916, he again returned to France and rejoined his battalion. His luck finally ran out when was mortally wounded by a shell whilst in command of his company in the trenches in Belgium on the 6th June 1916 and died the following morning in No 10 Casualty Clearing Station and is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

His CO, on behalf of the battalion wrote: “Personally he is the very greatest loss to me, and he was my best officer and will be impossible to replace. He was always absolutely cool in any emergency, and absolutely disregarded danger. He was in my company in the 2nd Battn Rifle Brigade, and I was delighted when he came to this battalion after I had got command of it. He is the greatest loss that could have happened to us, both from professional and personal reasons. He was extremely popular with everyone, officers and men. He had certainly done far more than his share in the work of winning the war,”

The full medal details are 1914 Distinguished Conduct Medal to S.4954 Cpl F.E. Roe Att 1/Rif Bde nearly extremely fine. With a copy of entry and photo in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour.

By Paul Murray.

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