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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Paul Roberts

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It was a genuinely jaw-dropping moment.

I had just finished doing a talk in Devon, when I met for the first time a grand-daughter of a soldier who had a remarkable escape from death in the Great War.

She brought a family photograph of her grandfather, Frank Roberts, who survived after being shot in the head in fierce fighting in Palestine.

Frank was wounded as his battalion, the 16th Devons, captured a hilltop village near Jerusalem in December 1917.

Rescued by fellow soldiers, he was taken to hospital in Cairo by camel, a perilous and tiring journey that took almost a week to complete.

Remarkably, he survived and recovered sufficiently to re-join his battalion in 1918 before travelling with them to France where he was later transferred to the Labour Corps.

At the same talk was a lady, aged 89, whose father – Corporal Jack Strong – served with Frank in the Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry in Gallipoli in 1915.

The lady, from Washfield, near Tiverton, brought with her Jack's incredible diary of his time with the regiment (which later became part of the 16th Devons) in Gallipoli.

The diary details the movements of Jack and the 1st Royal Devon Yeomanry during their testing three months in the Turkish-held peninsula.

I could hardly believe that in an old church hall in Tiverton, I had met not only the grand-daughter of Frank, but the daughter of a corporal who served with him in Gallipoli and the Middle East.

They had never met before attending my talk about a retired farm worker – John Roberts, of Witheridge, Devon – who had 30 grandsons serving in the Great War.

Frank (pictured below) was one of the 30.

His story is told for the first time in a new book, History Maker.

Frank Roberts Witheridge.JPG



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