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2nd Lieutenant 2nd Leeds Pals (Bantams)

1877: Ernest Roscoe was born in Bramley, the third child of John Thomas Roscoe and Eliza Kilburn. (Find My Past 2015)

1885-1891: He was a pupil at Leeds Modern School (Leeds WWI War Memorials 2015)

1891: He started work as an insurance clerk, and became manager of the Britannic Assurance Company. But by…

1901: He was manager of a company making paint and writing signs.

1902: He married Edith Mary Haigh, and their son, Ernest Haigh Roscoe, was born in 1904. (Find My Past 2015)

1914: Ernest had become a managing director of the firm of Messrs.Gawthorpes, a sign printers in Leeds. He was involved in politics, as an enthusiastic worker for the Leeds League of Young Liberals, was a member of the Leeds Modern Old Boys’ Association and also of the National Lifeboat Institution. He was generally a well-known man in the area, so it is not, therefore, surprising that when war was declared in August 1914 Ernest was involved in the raising of the 2nd Battalion, the Leeds Pals, known as the Bantams, due to their being less than the regulation 5ft 3ins required for enlisting in the army. Ernest was the first officer appointed to the Leeds Bantams, as a 2nd Lieutenant, and he became the battalion adjutant.

1915: In June the Bantams were training near Ilkley, at their camp in Raikes Road, Skipton. The men had been filmed training, and a large party of officers motored across to Ilkley on 17th June to watch the film. Five of them had hired a car, which broke down and had to be replaced for the return journey. They were joined by another officer, a second whose motorcycle had also broken down, and a mechanic, in addition to the driver, giving a total of nine passengers. It was a large car but even so it was over-loaded. It had oil-lamps, which were not ideal for the night conditions, and it was thought to have reached the dangerously high speed of 30 miles an hour. For reasons that were never satisfactorily established, just after the Chelker Reservoir the car left the road, burst a tyre, hit the wall and rolled over, throwing many of the passengers out. Lt. Roscoe was one who was thrown, and he suffered a fractured skull as a result. All of the passengers were injured, some slightly, but Lt. Roscoe the most seriously. Two of them ran the three miles back to Addingham to fetch help, and when it came the injured were taken to Skipton Hospital for treatment. This was all reported in the Craven Herald:

‘ROSCOE – June 26th, at the Skipton and District Hospital, as a result of injuries sustained in a motor car accident, Second Lieut. Ernest Roscoe, of the 17th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Bantams), aged 38 years. He was buried in Lawnswood Cemetery with full military honours, and is named on the War Memorial there.’ (Craven’s Part in the Great War 2015)

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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