ROPER, George

7258, Private, George ROPER
Age 28

Norfolk Regiment, 2nd Battalion
Died as a prisoner of war of the Turkish Army on Tuesday 12th December 1916

Born in Lakenheath. He appears to be George GATHERCOLE (Mildenhall Q2-1887 4A:741). Rebecca GATHERCOLE married Jonathan ROPER Q2-1890.

1891 census...Aged 4, George ROPER, he was living at Burnt Fen,Lakenheath with his father- Jonathan ROPER [23] farm labourer born Lakenheath and mother Rebecca (née GATHERCOLE) [21] born Lakenheath.

1901 census...Aged 14, a farm labourer, he was at Cross Bank, Feltwell Fen, with his parents, sister- Bertha [9] born Burnt Fen, Lakenheath; sister- Florence [7] born Sedge Fen; brother- Edward born Feltwell Fen; brother- Frederick [2] born Feltwell Fen.

1911 census...Aged 23 he was a private in the 2nd Battalion, Norfolk Regiment in Belgaum, India. His parents were at Butley, nr Tunstall with his sister Bertha and brothers Edward and Fred.

By the time of his death the family had moved to Gazeley, and brother Frederick was in the Army, with the Buffs, in India.

Enlisted in Norwich in the militia in January 1906 at 18 yrs old, then on 3rd July 1906 enlisted in the Norfolk Regiment. He gave his age as 18 years 6 months, weighed 129 lbs (58.7 kg), 5'6 3/4" (169.5 cm) tall, chest 35" to 37 1/2" (88.9 to 95.3 cm), grey eyes, light brown hair. He signed for 9 years in colours, 3 on Reserve.
Served at home from 3rd July 1906 to 16/9/1907 then went to South Africa on the SS Braemar Castle to Pietermaritzburg on 3/10/1908. He was then posted to Gibraltar from 4/10/1908 to 13/2/1911 and then to Belgaum, India from 14/2/1911 to 6/11/1914. In Belgaum on 10/7/1914 he signed on for a further 2 years and received a 250 rupees bounty.
On 7th November 1914 he was sent to Turkey (Asia) where he eventually died.
He received a slight gun shot wound to his left leg on 14th April 1915 , in the Persian Gulf at Shaiba. Together with the remnants of the 2nd Norfolk he was captured by the Turks at the end of the siege at Kut al Amara on 29th April 1916. They then endured a fearsome overland march of over 1,000 miles to Smyra. Many were shot or died of disease or ill treatment on the way. George was interned (with 21 other Norfolks) at Affion Kara Kissar. The Turkish Red Crescent informed the British that he had died on 12th December 1916. His death was stated to be from chronic enteritis and he was buried in the Armenian Cemetery at Angora. The CWGC being unable to care for many of the scattered graves, concentrated many in Baghdad or added their names to memorials such as the Angora Memorial.

Of the 261 2nd Norfolks captured by the Turks, only 78 survived to come home.

© Osprey Publishing, on Flickr

No Known Grave
George is commemorated on the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq Angora Memorial 140

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