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News > From The Archives > Rossall's First Victoria Cross

Rossall's First Victoria Cross

George Rowland Patrick Roupell
George Rowland Patrick Roupell

In the Lent term of 1907 a young man called George Rowland Patrick Roupell joined MF  House  from his home in Southern Ireland, known then as Tyler’s, after the Houseparent. He would remain for two years at Rossall before continuing his education at Sandhurst from where he was to embark on a military career full of incident and variety. A really remarkable man!

He was commissioned into the East Sussex regiment and appointed lieutenant just before the outbreak of the First World War. Early in 1915, at the age of 23, after a year of fighting near the river Aisne and Ypres the following incident took place, which led to his being awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest of all military honours.

 On the 20th April in a front trench, part of the infamous Hill 60, subjected to heavy enemy bombardment, he was wounded in several places but remained at his post. During a lull in the shelling he had his wounds quickly dressed and returned to the trench, once again under heavy fire. With a now much weakened unit he then made his way back to base, again under heavy fire, reported the situation to his commanding officer and brought up reinforcements. Thus the position was held until morning when a relief unit arrived. In his award citation unusually quoted in full in the Rossall Register we read: ‘This young officer was one of the few survivors of his company and showed a magnificent example of courage, devotion and tenacity, which undoubtedly inspired his men to hold out till the end’

After the First War he went on to join the allied intervention in the Russian Civil War becoming a Prisoner of War in Moscow. He fought again in the Second World War in France, spending two years with another officer disguised as farm labourers near Rouen. From they were eventually smuggled by the Resistance through France into Spain, returning to the UK via Gibraltar.    

After several further promotions and distinctions, the Russian Order of St. George and the French Croix de Guerre among them, he became Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey. He died in 1974  aged 81, after a remarkable and fulfilled life, including two marriages. His diaries and journals can be viewed at the Imperial War Museum in London.

Richard McDowell

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