Let’s Remember Together – The second part of our Life Stories series

Ninety-six years ago today, the guns had fallen silent on the Western Front. The first full day of peace had begun. I can only imagine the relief of the men who survived to witness it, and yesterday we came together to remember the tragic loss of those who did not.

Thankfully, the name I picked to research today belongs to the former group – Regimental Sergeant Major T.V. Roberts, mentioned on the 31st of October, 1915 on this page of the 2nd Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment’s diary.

Image © IWM (Q 9650) – Troops of the 1/4th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment (Pioneer Battalion of the 55th Division) crossing a pontoon bridge over the Scheldt river at Tournai, 9 November 1918.

Image © IWM (Q 9650) – Troops of the 1/4th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment (Pioneer Battalion of the 55th Division) crossing a pontoon bridge over the Scheldt river at Tournai, 9 November 1918.

Number 4918 RSM Talbot Vivian W. Roberts was born in 1881 in Warrington. The 1891 census lists him as still being there, age 10. He appears in the return for Orford Barracks, where he lived with his father, a Paymaster Sergeant with the Infantry, his mother, three younger brothers and three younger sisters.

He doesn’t appear in any other census returns, but we know the 2nd Battalion of the South Lancashires served overseas from 1881 until the outbreak of the First World War. Given his rank, we might assume he enlisted with them at some point after the 1891 census and so was stationed outside of the UK when the censuses were carried out.

Sadly, like so many others, his Army service record has been lost. However, from his Medal Index Cards (he has two), we can see he was Mentioned in Despatches, although not when or why. We also see that he transferred from the South Lancashires at some point into the Labour Corps, where he retained his rank, but was assigned a new service number, 314641. There is no record of why this happened, but the Labour Corps was manned by men who had been medically rated below the ‘A1′ condition needed for front line service. Many of them had been wounded and returned to duty – I wonder whether this has anything to do with RSM Roberts’ Mention in Despatches.

Beyond that, details are sparse. We know he survived the war and died in 1940, aged 59, in Winchester.

Take a look at his Life Story – perhaps you can add to it. Join us on the blog tomorrow, when we’ll post the next installment of our Let’s Remember Together series. In the meantime, let us know if you’re researching names from the diaries too – we’d love to help ensure the legacies of the men mentioned in their pages are preserved.

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11 responses to “Let’s Remember Together – The second part of our Life Stories series”

  1. davidunderdown95 says :

    The 1911 census does include army (and naval units) stationed abroad. However, if the battalion was in Ireland or Scotland they would appear under their censuses. The Irish census is freely available, but army personnel are usually listed only by initials which can make them rather hard to track down – however TVWR might be easier to spot than some, and ranks are often given in the full transcription, or visible on the actual images.

  2. Calvados says :

    I’ve worked on an Infantry Brigade and a Cavalry Machine Gun Squadron, and have been so interested in the difference between these two sets of men, especially the number of casualties during each confrontation. I’m now working on a Field Ambulance Diary and – unlike the two previous diaries which only refer to Officer casualties by name – the diarist records the name, rank and number of all casualties, ORs and Officers. By tagging these names we are preserving the names of so many otherwise invisible ORs.

    You ask for names of those we are researching. Sidney Read, 4th Bts Bedfordshires, 19569, died in July 1917 and is buried at Duisans. The memorial in his home village records that he died “as the result of an accident”. I’m hoping the accident will turn up in a diary.

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