CAPTAIN RICHARD LANG ROSCOE
4TH FEBRUARY 1917 AGE 19
BURIED: CONTAY BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE
"He is my very best officer. I don't know what I shall do without him," wrote Colonel Barker of the 22nd (Kensington) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, on hearing that Captain Richard Roscoe had been dangerously wounded by shell fire, losing a leg whilst asleep in A Company's HQ post after 48 hours in the front line. "He was splendidly brave and as clever as a man of 40, although just 20". According to the War Graves Commission records Captain Roscoe was in fact still only 19. He had been gazetted Lieutenant on 19 October 1914 when he can only have been 17. "He is now my Senior Captain and one in whom I had the most implicit confidence," Colonel Barker continued. However, despite the stretcher bearers taking immense personal risks themselves to get Roscoe medical treatment, he died the following day.
Captain Roscoe was vouched for from another source too. He was Hector Hugh Monro, Saki's, Company Commander and Munro's friend, Corporal Spikesman, described Roscoe as "one of the finest fellows". Monro was chatting to Roscoe moments before he was shot, just after he'd uttered his immortal last words, "Put that bloody cigarette out".
Richard Roscoe's inscription, confirmed by his father Philip Roscoe, is a quotation from Tennyson's Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington:
All is over and done:
Render thanks to the giver,
England, for thy son.
Let the bell be toll'd.
Much of the information on Roscoe comes from G.I.S. Inglis's book The Kensington Battalion: Never Lost a Yard of Trench. Although not published until 2010, the book benefits from the fact that Inglis did much of his research whilst many of the survivors were still alive.