Roseman, Robert (No. B/539)

Roseman, Robert (Ross)

Munition Worker

No. B/539, Australian Munition Worker

Died on Monday 25 November 1918 (aged about 65)


North Sheen Cemetery, Surrey, England (Grave FC. 306)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Father of Private William Roseman (No. 16573)

Uncle of Lance Corporal Hugh Doggart MM (No. 3914)

Uncle of Rifleman James Doggart (No. 17575)

Uncle of Rifleman William Doggart (No. 18/329)


In some records his surname is spelt Rosemond, in others Rosmond and in others Rosin.

Robert Roseman (known as Ross) was born in Holywood sometime between 1852 and 1855 according to his stated age on different documents and he was a son of William Roseman, a labourer, and Dinah (Diana) Roseman (nee Ross) who were married on 2 August 1851 in Holywood Presbyterian Church.  Dinah Ross was a daughter of John Ross.

Robert (Ross) Roseman, a plasterer from 65 Boundary Street, Belfast was 24 when he and Mary Anderson were married on 8 September 1879 in Belfast Registrar’s Office.  Mary Anderson (aged 23) was born in Caledon, County Tyrone sometime between 1856 and 1860 according to her stated age on different documents and she was a daughter of Robert Anderson, a housepainter in Holywood.

Robert (Ross) Roseman and Mary Roseman (nee Anderson) had eight children:

Robert (born in Newtownards 20 July 1880)

Jane (born 9 July 1882, died 26 October 1882)

Sarah (born 9 August 1883, died 15 August 1883)

Sarah (born 17 June 1885, died 19 June 1885)

Mary (born 27 June 1886, died 10 July 1886)

William (born in Newtownards 2 October 1887)

James (born in Newtownards 9 March 1891)

John (born in Bangor 7 June 1892)

The Roseman family moved to Bridgeton, Lanarkshire and in 1901 Ross was living at 58 Norman Street.  From there they moved to Gateshead-on-Tyne and in 1911 the Roseman family was living at 41 Dixon Street.

On 5 June 1914 Ross Roseman travelled third class aboard the SS Orsova from London to Melbourne to work as a plasterer in Australia.

Research is ongoing as to if/when his wife Mary moved to Australia or stayed on in Gateshead-on-Tyne.  Mary Roseman died on 28 October 1915 and was either buried in Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Springvale, Victoria, Australia (Church of England Compartment M Section 18 Grave 10) or else she was buried in England and is simply commemorated there.

During the First World War the British Government requested skilled workers for munitions work from the Dominions and Colonies to make up the shortages caused by military service in Britain.  Under a scheme for Australian men, volunteers received free passage to Great Britain, an allowance for travel time, a special allowance for the duration of service, and eventual repatriation to Australia. Married men also received a separation allowance but were required to allot a portion of all their earnings to dependants. The men were expected to work in whatever industries they were directed to by the British Board of Trade, and under the prevailing conditions and wages for the duration of hostilities.

Government newspaper adverts appeared in August 1916, and the first party of 76 workers departed Australia in September 1916. Groups continued to be recruited and sent at intervals, with the eventual number of workers under the scheme totalling just over 5,000. Almost 1,000 of these had already been working in Britain under private agreements with large firms such as Vickers and were brought under the conditions of the scheme. An additional 200 former AIF soldiers were also recruited in Britain. Initially only skilled workers were sought, however, at the request of the British Government later groups included large numbers of navvies for general labouring.  These men were not members of the Australian Imperial Forces and did not serve in combat units but were recruited to meet the shortfall in skilled labour that threatened many of Britain’s key wartime industries including munitions.  They had to be ‘between the ages of 21 and 50 years engaged in the following occupations – Navvies, Fettlers and Labourers accustomed to heavy manual work’.  At the insistence of the Australian Government, Australian War Workers/Munition Workers are commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission; such workers of other nationalities are not.

On 12 May 1917 Ross Roseman applied for enrolment as a volunteer for work as a labourer in Great Britain.  In order to qualify for the scheme, he declared his age last birthday to be 48 (he was in fact 64); his place of birth to be Holywood, County Down, Ireland and that he was Protestant and married.  He stated that for the past 3 years he had worked as a plasterer at New Postal Stores, Flinders Naval Base and Victoria Barracks in Melbourne.  His home address was 47 Neptune Street, Richmond and he gave as a reference Mr J.H. Bradshaw who was Secretary of the Victorian Plasterers’ Society in Melbourne.  On 30 July 1917, he left Sydney, Australia aboard the SS Medic and arrived at Liverpool, England on 12 October 1917.  On his Munition Workers and Navvies Despatched to Great Britain papers he was designated as a Plasterer (Labourer) and on the Ship’s Manifest as a Labourer on Government Service.

After he arrived in England Ross Roseman was found to be suffering from bronchial catarrh and, although he started work on 16 October 1917, he was only able to work for five days before he was pronounced unfit for work.  He started work again on 5 December 1917 at Messrs Dick, Kerr & Company – a munitions company in Kingston, London – but his poor health adversely affected his ability to work and frequently he was unable to work at all.  In October 1918 it was recommended that he should be returned to Australia, but he contracted influenza and was admitted to hospital on 18 November.

Ross Roseman died of broncho-pneumonia following influenza at 11.00 am on 22 November 1918 in No. 2 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, St Marylebone Schools, Southall, Middlesex.  His death certificate gives his age as 65 whereas his age is inscribed as 49 on his CWGC headstone (because he stated his age to be 48 in 1917 when he enlisted).  Ross Roseman was buried in Fulham New Cemetery North Sheen on 27 November 1918 (Section FC, Grave 613 according to cemetery documentation at the time and Section FC, Grave 306 according to CWGC records).  It was recorded on his papers that he had ‘no friends or relatives in Great Britain’ and on 21 January 1919 his effects – including his tools (valued in total at £30) – were returned to his nominated next-of-kin in Australia on board SS Ceramic.  He had nominated his son Robert Roseman at 47 Neptune Street, Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Ross Roseman’s son, Private William Roseman (No. 16573), also died during the First World War.

Ross Roseman’s nephews, (his sister Mary’s sons), Hugh, James and William Doggart also died during the First World War.