Born: 1865, Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
Died: 4th February 1901; age: 36; died from Ague at Wynberg Hospital, Western Cape, South Africa. Frederick’s horse had suddenly stepped into a rabbit hole causing Frederick to be thrown from his ride. Frederick suffered from serious internal injuries. He underwent two operations at the hospital in Kimberley before being moved to Wynberg Hospital.
Frederick had served 18 years in India and other parts of the Empire.
Residence: 13, Victoria Street, Ipswich.
Enlistment in the Royal Artillery – Date: 1883; age: 18.
Rank: Corporal; Service Number: 39160.
Regiment: Royal Field Artillery, 44th Battery, South Africa Field Force.
Clasp Awarded: Cape Colony – issued 23rd June 1903.
1871 72, Edward Street, Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
Frederick was 6 years old and living with his mother & sibling.
Mary Roe (nee Cook), 33, a Straw Hat Maker, born Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire.
(Lizzie) Elizabeth Roe, 11, born Dunstable.
Harry Roe, 3, born Dunstable.
1881 Church Street, Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
Frederick was 26 years old, a Soldier. He was living with his parents.
Alfred Thorn Roe, 56, a Tailor – own account, born Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire.
Mary, 53, a Straw Hat Maker.
On the 13th June 1898, at St. Martin’s Church, Cheriton, Kent, 32 year old Frederick, a Sergeant in the Royal Artillery married 40 year old widow, Caroline Benner (nee Hutson), of Cheriton born 1864, Harlow, Essex – daughter of William Hutson, a Publican (formerly of the Queen’s Head, Harlow) and Susan Hutson (nee Jarrett), of Harlow, Essex.
Frederick and Caroline made their home in Ipswich.
Caroline had previously been married to Charles Benner, born 1845, Weston, Lincolnshire, a meat salesman – they had two sons – George William Benner and Charles Robert Benner.
DUNSTABLE BOROUGH GAZETTE – Wednesday 4th July 1900 – RIVERSIDE FIGHTING AND ADVENTURES –
Sergt. F. Roe, 44th Battery, R.F.A., writes to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Roe, Church Street, Dunstable, from Rhere’s Drift, Orange River, postal town Drachoender, under date June 6th.
Up to the present time I have had splendid health, always as hungry as a hunter, and that is not a sign of sickness is it? As you see by the heading of this letter we are on the move again. We left Pretoria on the 21st and came on to here, a journey of about one hundred miles, in five days. We arrived here last Saturday week and pitched our camp about 100 yards from the Orange River. We have with us, as escort, 100 Gloucester Mounted Infantry, and 100 Nesbitt’s Horse. Nothing occurred that Saturday, and the next morning our Battery were the first to lead horses down to the river to drink. We filed out with them as we always do, one man taking two horses, riding on one leading the other, the men in their short sleeves and the horses with nothing on them but a bridle bit. The horses had just finished drinking when BANG! WENT A RIFLE straight in front of us. The river at that spot is about 40 yards wide and about 26 yards deep. That first shot was immediately followed by twenty or thirty more. Of course, we knew that they came from the Boers, although we could not see a soul about, and we made our way back to camp with all possible speed, for it was of no use standing there to be shot at, at forty yards range, too! There was only a small gap through the bushes and a very steep incline up the river bank for us to go up. The officer was the first to go through, then we followed; all the men of course made a rush to get through first, and several horses in consequence came down and completely blocked the means of exit. You can draw a picture for yourself what that meant. The only means of escape cut off, and bullets coming
PING! PING! ABOUT OUR EARS
all the time. It seemed the hours before we could get through. When I got to the top of the incline, and comparatively out of range, I began to look about me. I saw a lot of riderless horses and very naturally thought a great many of our men had been shot. But no, the Gloucester Mounted Infantry turned out as soon as they heard the firing and rushed down to the river without any orders. They secreted themselves along the banks of the river and waited, ready to do a bit of sniping in return as soon as the rifles began to speak again from the other side. But their birds had flown, so the General posted strong pickets for the rest of the day and night. Early next morning we set out in search of them. We did not have to look very far, either, for after a march of about six miles we sighted their laager. Our Major was instructed to take up a commanding position AND OPEN FIRE, which we very quickly did. I had the pleasure of laying the first round; it was a very close range for us, only about 1800 yards, and that first shot knocked the end off one of the Boer houses close to the laager. The Major evidently thought the range was good, for after that first shot he at once ordered me to turn my gun on to the laager. And then we commenced in dead earnest; shot after shot kept going in with splendid accuracy, the fuses bursting the shells with lovely precision. We kept this up for about two hours, altering our range and fuses accordingly when our Major received orders to fire four rounds in rapid succession and then stand fast. We all wondered what on earth this could mean, but we were soon to learn. The Yeomanry and Mounted Infantry were going to
CHARGE THE DRIFT.
This is one of the drifts of the Orange River that is passable. We waited in anxious suspense for news of the onset, and the first we heard was that Major Orr-Ewing was killed (a very nice officer, and liked by all of us) and that five of the Warwickshire Yeomanry were wounded. We were ordered to open fire again on the bush just over the river, as the Boers were there holding the drift, and in considerable numbers. We did not want telling twice, and our third shot found the range. Round after round was then pumped into that position until, about half-an-hour later, we could see the enemy rushing away on their ponies just as hard as they could go. All the guns were turned on them at once and we played a pretty game. All our mounted troops had by this time crossed the river, and they were gradually surrounding the enemy while we kept dropping shells continually amongst them (the Boers). About half-past four, after having been fighting all day,
UP WENT THE WHITE FLAG
and the Boer leader gave in to us, he himself being dangerously wounded. He died that same night. After the fight, the first thing to be done was of course to look after our wounded. That work was very quickly attended to, and then we pitched our camp close to the Boer laager. We tied up our horses and fed them for the night, and then built up some splendid fires. We burned tons of wood that night, for wood abounds at that spot. We then carefully carried our wounded over and laid them close to the fires; our dead we placed in an empty waggon, covering them over for the night with some empty corn sacks. Our casualties were, 5 killed and 23 wounded, and three of the latter died the next day. That fight was fought on May 28th. We stayed up all that night, making up the fire, boiling coffee and helping the doctor, who himself was badly shot in the left foot. All night we cheered the poor fellows up as well as we could, and next morning we sent them down to the hospital at Prieska. Then we
BURIED OUR DEAD,
and the next morning we marched our prisoners down to see their houses burned to the ground. And didn’t some of them cry! But no one had the slightest pity for them, because they were the men who had done such dirty deeds to us. Let me give you two or three instances of that. When the Warwicks first made that attempt to cross the drift, four of them were badly wounded, and one young fellow, a Quarter-master-Sergt., shouted to the Sergt.-Major to bring him a drop of water. The Sergt.-Major managed to reach his wounded comrade, but in doing so he was shot through his helmet twice. Another fellow who was shot through his knee, turned over to ease his position, when he was immediately shot through the shoulder. The Doctor was attending a trooper of Nesbitt’s Horse, who had been hit in two places when he (the doctor) was shot through the foot. These are only a few cases, and I can tell you our men were BOILING WITH RAGE and could they have had their way with the brutes I don’t think we should have sent many of them down to Cape Town for trial. I don’t think there is anything more to write about this time. P.S. Have just heard that Roberts is in Pretoria. Good luck to him! We have all had enough of this.
Yours etc., FRED.
Luton Times and Advertiser – Friday, 15th February 1901 – DEATH AT THE FRONT – With regret we record that F. Roe, of Church Street, has lost his son, Sergeant Frederick Roe, 44th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, who died of ague at Winburg Hospital, on February 4th. Sergt. Roe went out with his battery at the beginning of the war and had seen much service. In September, however, he was thrown from his horse, through the animal suddenly stepping into a rabbit hole, and received serious internal injuries. He underwent two operations in the hospital at Kimberley, whence he wrote home testifying to the excellent treatment and was later removed to Winburg, where he, unhappily, had a relapse. He was a tall, fine fellow and had served 18 years in India and other parts of the Empire. Sergt. Roe was 36 years of age.