Laid to rest at the Field of Honour.
Born: 19th April 1899, Beer, Devon.
Died: 18th May 1919; age: 19; Drowned in a boating accident on the River Orwell.
Residence: Forde Abbey, Chard, Somerset.
Left Winchester in 1917 for Woolwich. Went to France in August 1918 to join ‘Q’ Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery. George took part in the final Allied Advance in St. Quentin. He was invalided home in October 1918, suffering from the effects of gas-poisoning and influenza. He rejoined at Ipswich in April 1919, and was attached to the Royal Field Artillery, 29th Brigade.
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant.
Regiment: Royal Horse Artillery.
1901 24, Lexham Gardens, Kensington, Middlesex.
George was a year old and living with his parents & brother at the home of his widowed, maternal Great Grandfather.
Sprott Boyd, 86, a Retired Doctor, born Scotland.
Freeman Roper, 38, a Solicitor, born Paddington, Middlesex.
Elizabeth Harriot Roper (nee Fitz-Gerald), 29, born Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.
Geoffrey Desmond Roper, 1 month, born Kensington.
1 monthly nurse.
1911 Copthorne School, Crawley, West Sussex.
George was 11 years old, he and his brother were Resident Scholars at the independent school. Bernard Harry Rendall was Proprietor of School and Schoolmaster.
George attended Copthorpe School, before moving on to Winchester College, from 1912 – 1917. He was in House E.
Probate to Freeman Roper Esq – father.
18th May 1919 The Times reported that Second Lieutenants Knight and Roper, of 7th Brigade RFA, stationed near Ipswich, were sailing in an open boat, when a strong wind drove their boat against a buoy and it capsized. Mr Knight managed to swim ashore but Mr Roper was drowned.”
FORDE ABBEY, Somerset.
Forde Abbey, was left to George’s mother, Elizabeth by her cousin, William Herbert. The Roper family moved in to Forde Abbey in 1905. In 1943, Elizabeth Roper died and the house passed into the care of George’s brother, Geoffrey. The beautiful house & gardens is now in the care and responsibility of George’s great niece and her husband.
FUNERAL OF LIEUT. ROPER
Amidst many manifestations of respect and with full military honours, the funeral of 2nd Lieut. George Fitzgerald Roper, R.F.A., stationed at Warren Heath Camp, Ipswich, who was drowned in the river Orwell as a result of a sailing accident on May 18th, and who in the words of his Commanding Officer was loved and respected by every officer and man in the brigade and was an excellent officer in every way, took place on Wednesday, the cortege starting from the Great White Horse Hotel. Amongst the mourners were Mr. Freeman Roper, of Forde Abbey, Chard, Somerset (father), Mr. Geoffrey Desmond Roper (brother), Mr. R. Swyer and Lieut. D. Hunt, R.A., and the Rev. C.C. Harper.
The gun-carriage and the deceased officer’s charger were accompanied by a firing party consisting of an officer and forty rank and file. The coffin was borne and lowered into the grave at the Cemetery by eight brother officers, who acted as pall-bearers, the clergyman officiating being Chaplain the Rev. A.G. de la Pryme (late Archdeacon of N.E. Rhodesia).
The body was enclosed in a zinc-lined shell, the outer coffin being of plain English oak, with brass fittings, the brass breast plate bearing the inscription:- “2nd-Lieut. George Fitzgerald Roper, born April 19th, 1899, died May 18th, 1919.”
Amongst the floral tributes sent were wreaths from mother, Kitty, Daddy, and Geoff; Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Hunt, Miss Hunt and Miss M. Hunt; Lieut. D.A. Hunt, R.F.A., Lieut.-Col. R.J. Paterson, C.M.G., D.S.G., R.F.A.; the officers, R.A., Warren Heath: officers of the 29th Brigade, R.F.A.; warrant-officers, staff sergeants, and sergeants, 20th Brigade, R.F.A.; and a beautiful cross from the N.C.O.’s and men of the 127th Battery, R.F.A.
Photograph and extra information courtesy of Suzanne Foster, Winchester College Archivist.