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In the footsteps® of

Captain James Patrick Roche MC

47th Trench Mortar Battery

James Patrick Roche

The group listening to the story of Captain James Patrick Roche MC.  [© Ian R Gumm, 2015]

Captain James Patrick Roche MC was 29 years old when he fell on 7th June 1917. He was the son of Stephen and Elsie Roche of Monasterevan, an old Blackrock College boy and had been a barrister before the war. James was one of four brothers who joined the Army, and was gazetted Temporary Second Lieutenant Infantry dated 27th May 1915.

47th Trench Mortar Battery was the indigenous mortar support for the 47th Brigade of the 16th (Irish) Division. For the Battle of Messines the Battery was in support of the main attack in the vicinity of the Petit Bois and Maedelstede Farm craters near Wytschaete. On 7th June 1917 Captain James Roche was in the Leinster's dugout with Lieutenant Colonel Thomas R A Stannus, the Adjutant Captain L L Acton, Captain J A J Farrell, the Battalion's acting Second-in-Command, two Artillery Liaison Officers and four other-ranks when an artillery shell burst amongst them. James, the two artillery officers and four other-ranks were killed, Lieutenant Colonel Stannus and Captain Acton were seriously wounded. Lieutenant Colonel Stannus would later die from his wounds and Captain Acton was crippled for life.

Colonel Rowland Fielding, CO 6th Conaught Rangers wrote of James that he was "one of the wittiest raconteurs I have ever met, and as brave and ready a soldier as I have ever seen. As a brigade trench mortar officer, he was a genius. In conversation he was remarkable." I was said that whenever he was about to issue one of his quips, a small smile would alight on his face, and would linger when the jest was done.

His parents had the words "An Roisteach Flaitheamhail, Fearamhail nar thug ariamh Eitheach" inscribed on his headstone, they translate as: "The generous and manly Roche who never uttered a falsehood."

Captain James Patrick Roche had earned the Military Cross for gallantry which was gazetted in January 1917. He is buried in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Grave X 87.

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Page last updated: 22 April 2022