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Earnest Roach was born in July 1890 in Workington. His father, John Porter Roach, was a Steelworker. Earnest was one of nine children born to John and his wife Mary Jane Magee. Their eldest son John was born in 1876 but died aged just 5 in 1881. They had two more son, William (in 1878), Robert (1882), then three daughters, Margaret Beatrice Ada (in 1884), Lily (1887), and Annie Ruth (1889). After Earnest was born they had two more children, James (in 1893) and Edith Mary in 1913).
Earnest grew up in Workington where his father continued to work as a Steelworker until his death in 1902. Around 1905 Earnest’s sister Margaret married Thomas Daniel Hicks, brother of John Hicks, and moved to Glenridding where Thomas worked at Greenside Mine. By 1911 Earnest had joined them and was living with them at 1 Mires Cottage and working alongside his brother in law at Greenside Mine.
We know that Earnest was a member of the Patterdale Football Team, and and was part of the squad of 1914 Ullswater Rovers Football Club when they triumphed in the replay against Appleby in the Penrith and District Cup of April 1914, which Ullswater won 3-
Along with many of his teammates Earnest signed up at the outbreak of the war and joined the Royal Garrison Artillery, serving in the 115th Heavy Battery. This Battery was formed at Woolwich on 28 September 1914 from 5 Company, RGA and embarked for France on the 2nd October 1914. The Heavy Batteries of the RGA were equipped with heavy guns, usually 60 pounder (5 inch) guns. They were most often deployed to destroy or neutralise enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines (see more info here.)
We do not have any specific details on Earnest war service as his service records have been lost, although it is likely that he served throughout the war. Given his embarkation in October it’s quite possible Earnest served in some of the early battles, including Mons, in which case he would have qualified for the 1914 Star, awarded to men “who actually served under fire of the enemy in France and Belgium between the 5th August, 1914, and midnight 22nd/ 23rd November, 1914”. We have found other snippets of information about his unit, who served with distinction in many of the key campaigns on the Western Front. They were singled out by Sir Douglas Haig's (British Army Commander-
So far we have found little trace of Earnest after the war, although we believe that he may have married Annie Watson in Salford in 1926. We believe he died in Darlington in 1948. Strangely, despite being a resident of the village, miner at Greenside, and member of the Football Team, he was not included on the Glenridding Village Hall Roll of Honour.
In terms of the rest of his family his elder sister Margaret and her husband Thomas had three children born in Glenridding, Bertram (in 1906), Elsie (1908) and William Henry (1909) -
If you can add anything to the story of Earnest or his family please contact us.
The Ullswater Rovers Football Team in 1914. Earnest is in the back row on the rightas you look at the photo next to Fred Dewis. The other team members are named on our 1914 Ullswater Football Team page.
60 Pounder Gun of the Royal Garrison Artillery
Gunner Earnest Roach
115th Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery
Born July 1890 in Workington. Died Sept 1948, aged 59 Darlington
Son of John Porter and Mary Jane (nee Magee) Roach
Husband of Annie Watson (?)
Brother in law of Thomas Hicks, Mires Cottage Glenridding
Miner at Greenside and Player for Ullswater Football Club
Earnest’s Medal Index Card above, and below his entry on the Medal Roll for the 1914 Star