ROLPH, Lionel Edwin Austen

17575, Trooper, Lionel Edwin Austen ROLPH
Age 24

New Zealand Mounted Rifles, 21st Canterbury Battalion
Died of his Wounds on Thursday 15th November 1917

Born in Lakenheath on 1st May 1892 (Mildenhall Q2-1892 4A:783) baptised 24 July 1892.

1901 census...Aged 8, he was living at the Bakers Shop, High Street,Lakenheath with his father- Edwin John ROLPH [39] baker & farmer; mother- Eliza (née RUTTERFORD)[45]; and sister- Amy F [17]. They were all born in Lakenheath.

1911 census...Aged 18, single, a farmer, living at Home Farm, Freckenham. His mother had died in 1905 and his father re married to Hephzibah Troup HALE in Wokingham, Berkshire in 1906 and was with her at Hall Farm, Great Livermere in 1911

He married Dorothy Mabel DEAN (born 1894) on 29th April 1914 in Croydon. They sailed to New Zealand on 12th June 1914 from London to Wellington, New Zealand on the SS Ruapehu. Named as his next of kin, Dorothy was at Epsom Road, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch, New Zealand. He was a farmer as a civilian in New Zealand.

He enlisted on 10th March 1916, giving his age as 23 years 8 months, height 5 feet 11.25 inches (180.9 cm), weight 154 lbs (70.1 kg) chest 34.5" to 37"(87.6 to 94 cm), grey eyes, light brown hair, Anglican. He had served 5 years in the Suffolk Yeomanry. Posted to Training Reserve Squadron he was then posted on 31st May 1916 to 18th Mounted Rifles and then to 21st Mounted Rifles, and promoted Corporal on 19th August.
He embarked in WellIngton, New Zealand with the 21st Reinforcements on the SS Manuka on 8th February 1917. At Sidney they transferred to the Morea and at Bombay transferred again, to the Mashobra which delivered them to Suez on 4th April 1917.
After a period with a training squadron at Moascar, he was the posted to 21st Canterbury Battalion on 19th May 1917.

He received a gun shot wound to the left knee in the field on 5th November 1917, and via 75 Casualty Clearing Station went to Kantara, 24th Stationary Hospital. Seriously ill he then went to 27 General Hospital, Abbasia on 12th November but, sadly, died there on 15th.

The New Zealand army seemed to be somewhat cavalier as regards to regimental badges and not knowing which squadron of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Lionel was in, I have used one that was worn by the Reinforcements, which seems to be the badge in his photograph. Each squadron appears to have it's own badge. Not arriving in a war zone until 1917 the only campaign medals he would have been awarded are the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Mounted riflemen were expected to ride to the scene of a battle but unlike traditional cavalry dismount before going into action as normal infantrymen. In Sinai and Palestine this distinction was sometimes blurred in practice, with men occasionally fighting from horseback. When it was sent to Gallipoli the CMR left its horses behind in Egypt and the men fought in the same manner as their counterparts in the New Zealand infantry battalions.
In Sinai and Palestine the mounted rifles were valued for their ability to patrol and carry out reconnaissance over a much larger area than could be covered on foot. The key battlefield advantage of a mounted rifles regiment over a standard infantry battalion was superior mobility. Key disadvantages were fewer men and fewer heavy weapons.

Lionel is also commemorated on the War Memorial, Springston, New Zealand

War Memorial Springston by Selwyn Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License


Lionel is buried in the Cairo Memorial Cemetery, Egypt ref..F:342

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details