Roberts, Benjamin Richard

Roberts, Benjamin Richard

Lieutenant

98th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps

Killed in Action on Sunday 30 July 1916 (aged 41 CWGC)

Buried:

Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension, France (Plot 1 Row H Grave 23)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

BIOGRAPHY

In the 9 August 1916 edition of The Northern Whig, it was reported that Mrs Roberts of 2 Mount Pleasant, Bangor had received a telegram from the War Office informing her that her husband, Lieutenant B.R. Roberts, Army Medical Corps, had been killed in action on 30 July.  The report stated that Lieutenant B.R. Roberts was a son of the late Mr G.B. Roberts, Athlone.  His wife was a daughter of the late John Ward, Ormeau Road, Belfast, who had worked as an auctioneer and estate agent.  Mr R.A. Pinkerton, manufacturer, of 9 Brunswick Street, Belfast was Lieutenant B.R. Roberts’s brother-in -law.  Benjamin Richard Roberts was educated at Queen’s College, Galway and at the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh where he took the triple qualification of the Scottish Colleges in 1898:  The Licentiate, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Edinburgh (LRCP&S) and Licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow (LFPS).

He served with the RAMC throughout the Boer War and afterwards settled in Johannesburg.  He built up a successful medical practice in Braamfontein and was medical officer to the Central South African Railways.  His address was 29 De Korte Street, Braamfontein.

Early in 1916 Dr Roberts accepted a commission in the RAMC and came to the UK.  Mrs Roberts and her two boys went to live in Bangor, Co Down.

Lieutenant Benjamin Richard Roberts had been at the Front for less than three months when he was killed.  Major J.R.C. Greenlees, commanding officer of the 98h Field Ambulance sent Lieutenant Roberts’s widow details about his death from shellfire, ‘He was going up a trench to reconnoitre the possibilities of clearing wounded men from the front line.  One of the bearers was killed instantaneously, and Lieutenant Roberts told the other men to see to the body while he pushed on himself.  The surviving orderly followed in five minutes and forty yards further on, found the officer unconscious and so severely wounded in the head and abdomen that he died almost at once.  We were able to bring his body back to the headquarters of the ambulance’.  His military funeral was conducted the following day.

In the CWGC Debt of Honour website it is recorded that Lieutenant Benjamin Richard Roberts was a son of George Burchell (sometimes Birchill) Roberts and Jemima Roberts of Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

George Burchell Roberts and Jemima Going were married on 24 December 1850 in Eyrecourt Church of Ireland Church, Co Galway.  George Burchell Roberts, an RIC constable from Shannon View, Galway was a son of John Roberts, an RIC constable.  Jemima Going from Eyrecourt was a daughter of William Going, a mariner.

George Burchell Roberts and Jemima Roberts (nee Going) had at least four children:

Ada (married William Thomas Roberts on 22 September 1891 in Athlone Parish Church of Ireland Church)

George (born 23 September 1866 at Irishtown, Athlone, Co Westmeath; his father was a Head Constable in the RIC); worked as a blacksmith; married Emily Crawford, a dressmaker, on 21 October 1890 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Unnamed male child (born 9 November 1870 at Connaught Street, Athlone; his father was a Head Constable in the RIC)

Benjamin Richard (born around 1875, calculated from stated age at death)

Their mother, Jemima Roberts, died from bowel cancer at Athlone Villas on 20 March 1895 (aged 61).  Her husband George was with her when she died.  George Burchell Roberts died from stomach cancer at Athlone Villas on 22 December 1898 (aged 72).  After leaving the RIC he worked as an agent for a Canal Company.  His son, Benjamin Richard Roberts was with him when he died.  Probate of his will was granted to Alice Roberts of Athlone, a spinster.

Benjamin Richard Roberts and Mildred Ward were married on 11 April 1905 in St Mary’s Church, Johannesburg, South Africa.  Mildred was the fourth daughter of John Ward, Ormeau Road, Belfast.

Benjamin Richard Roberts and Mildred Roberts (nee Ward) had two children:

Dudley Burchell (born 19 November 1906 in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa)

Geoffrey Ward (born 19 May 1910 in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa)

Lieutenant Benjamin Richard Roberts was killed by a shell explosion on 30 July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, and was buried in Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension, France.  There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:

I AM THE RESURRECTION

AND THE LIFE

SAITH THE LORD

It was his widow Mildred who organised the inscription and her address at that time was the Loreli Nursing Home, Bangor, Co Down.