George Roupell

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George Roupell
George Roupell VC.jpg
Born(1892-04-07)7 April 1892
Tipperary, County Tipperary, Ireland
Died4 March 1974(1974-03-04) (aged 81)
Shalford, Surrey, England
Guildford Crematorium, Surrey, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1912–1946
Service number5360
UnitEast Surrey Regiment
Commands held1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
36th Infantry Brigade
114th Infantry Brigade
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
Russian Civil War
AwardsVictoria Cross
Order of St George 4th Class
Order of the Bath
Croix de Guerre

Brigadier George Rowland Patrick Roupell VC CB DL (7 April 1892 – 4 March 1974) was born in Tipperary and was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life and military career[edit]

George Roupell was born into a military family; his father, Francis F. F. Roupell, having served with the British Army in the 70th Regiment and commanded the 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment between 1895 and 1899.[1][2] George's father had married Edith Maria Bryden at Kingston in 1887.[3]

George was educated at Rossall School[citation needed] and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was commissioned in the East Surrey Regiment, 2 March 1912[4] and was appointed lieutenant on 29 April 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the First World War.[5][6]

World War I[edit]

At the outbreak of war, the 1st Battalion the East Surreys were deployed as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) into northern Belgium. Roupell commanded a platoon in the BEF's first major action; the Battle of Mons in August 1914. Roupell kept a diary throughout the war which has since been a useful, and sometimes humorous, source of insight and observation on the events that he witnessed and participated in. In the trenches at Mons he recounted how he had to hit his men on the backside with his sword in order to gain their attention and remind them to fire low as they had been taught![7]

Soon after, following the retreat from Mons in September, Roupell led his platoon in the first Battle of the Aisne. Once again, he came under heavy fire, this time while crossing the Aisne on a raft. The Surreys' advance was pushed back with heavy casualties.[8]

Early the following year, during the continued fighting around Ypres, Roupell was 23 years old, when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC. His citation reads:

For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on 20 April 1915, when he was commanding a company of his battalion in a front trench on "Hill 60," which was subjected to a most severe bombardment throughout the day. Though wounded in several places, he remained at his post and led his company in repelling a strong German assault. During a lull in the bombardment he had his wounds hurriedly dressed, and then insisted in returning to his trench, which was again being subjected to severe bombardment. Towards evening, his company being dangerously weakened, he went back to his battalion headquarters, represented the situation to his commanding officer, and brought up reinforcements, passing backwards and forwards over ground swept by heavy fire. With these reinforcements he held his position throughout the night, and until his battalion was relieved next morning.

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.[9]

He was decorated with his VC by King George V on 12 July 1915.[10] In addition to his Victoria Cross he was awarded the Russian Order of St George (4th Class)[11] and the French Croix de Guerre,[2] and was Mentioned in Despatches.[12]

He was retrospectively appointed temporary Captain 29 December 1914, to the 20 April 1915, inclusive[13] and again later the same year.[14]

Roupell was aboard TSS The Queen when it was captured and sunk in the channel in October 1916.[15]

Roupell was promoted to acting brigade major on 29 December 1917.[16] On 9 May 1918 he was seconded to the general staff at the rank of temporary major.[17]


Following the end of hostilities in Europe, Captain Roupell, still acting major,[18] was promoted to acting lieutenant colonel in charge of Battalion between December 1918[19] and March 1919.[20] His appointment to the general staff was confirmed on 1 July 1919.[21] During this time he was attached to the allied force under Edmund Ironside and sent to support Tsarist Russians as part of the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War. On a visit to a Tsarist unit, they mutinied and Roupell and others were taken prisoner near Arkhangelsk, sent to Moscow and finally repatriated in 1920.[2]

Early in 1921, Roupell married Doris P. Sant in Paddington.[22] Daughter Phoebe and son Peter were born in 1922 and 1925 respectively.[23][24]

Roupell's inter-war military career continued with steady promotions to staff captain (1921)[25] brigade major (1926)[26] and major (1928).[27]

During the inter-war period, Roupell served in Gibraltar, the Regimental Depot, India and the Sudan and he attended the Staff College, Camberley.[2] As major (GSO2), Roupell spent two years from 1929 at the Royal Military College of Canada[28][29] and in 1934 a year with the British troops in China.[30][31] Following his return, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel (1935).[32]

World War II[edit]

At the outbreak of the Second World War, in September 1939, Roupell was promoted to colonel[33] and, promoted to acting brigadier[34] placed in command of 36th Infantry Brigade from 7 October 1939.

Roupell's 36th Brigade were deployed as part of the 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division in April 1940 and became part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), taking part in the Battle of France. The German thrust near the Somme river towards Abbeville eventually cut off the BEF, northern French and Belgian forces from the rest of France. Roupell's brigade headquarters near Doullens was attacked by enemy troops and on being told of the threat Roupell is reported to have exclaimed: "Never mind the Germans. I'm just going to finish my cup of tea."[35] When the brigade headquarters was overrun on 20 May 1940, Roupell gave the order for the survivors to split up into small groups and endeavour to re-contact Allied troops. Roupell, with a captain and French interpreter, avoided capture, hiding by day and walking at night for over a month. They arrived at a farm near Rouen where the two officers remained for almost two years, working as labourers. With the help of the French Resistance they were moved through unoccupied France into non-belligerent Spain, finally boarding ship in Gibraltar and returning to the United Kingdom. Following his return he was appointed commanding officer of the 114th Infantry Brigade, part of the 38th (Welsh) Infantry Division, on 18 March 1943, a command he held until 2 November that year.[36] He was appointed as garrison commander at Chatham, where he remained until retirement.[2]


In 1946 Roupell was formally retired from the army on retirement pay and granted the honorary rank of brigadier. [37] and, at the age of 58, excused from the reserve list of officers in 1950.[38]

He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey in 1953.[citation needed]

He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1956.[39]

In 1954 he was appointed Colonel of the Surreys, succeeding Arthur Dowler,[40] and was to be the last Colonel of The East Surrey Regiment, relinquishing office in 1959 when amalgamation with The Queen's Royal Regiment took place to form the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment.[41]

George Roupell died in Shalford, Surrey, on 4 March 1974 (aged 82). His grave is located at Guildford Crematorium.


  1. ^ "No. 27092". The London Gazette. 23 June 1899. p. 3942.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Brigadier G R P Roupell VC CB DL 1954–1959". The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  3. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  4. ^ "No. 28586". The London Gazette. 1 March 1912. p. 1561.
  5. ^ "No. 28836". The London Gazette. 1 June 1914. p. 4381.
  6. ^ "No. 28851". The London Gazette. 21 July 1914. p. 5661.
  7. ^ Ascoli, David (30 July 2001). The Mons Star. Birlinn. ISBN 978-1-84158-127-9.
  8. ^ Gilbert, Adrian (2 November 2010). "Battle of the Aisne - Assault". Challenge of Battle: The real story of the British Army in 1914. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  9. ^ "No. 29202". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 June 1915. p. 6115.
  10. ^ "Brigadier George Rowland Patrick Roupell VC". Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  11. ^ "No. 29275". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 August 1915. p. 8504.
  12. ^ Farrow, Lawrence (12 June 2003). "THE 14TH BRIGADE IN THE LINE IN FLANDERS". Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  13. ^ "No. 29226". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 July 1915. p. 6810.
  14. ^ "No. 29474". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 February 1916. p. 1665.
  15. ^ "ROUPELL, BRIGADIER GEORGE ROWLAND PATRICK (1892–1974) ESR/25/ROUP/ 1916–1992". Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  16. ^ "No. 29915". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 January 1917. p. 913.
  17. ^ "No. 30765". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 June 1918. p. 7543.
  18. ^ "No. 31027". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 November 1918. p. 13877.
  19. ^ "No. 31260". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 March 1919. p. 4168.
  20. ^ "No. 34725". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 April 1921. p. 7473.
  21. ^ "No. 31447". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 July 1919. p. 8798.
  22. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  23. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  24. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  25. ^ "No. 32317". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 May 1921. p. 3738.
  26. ^ "No. 33209". The London Gazette. 8 October 1926. p. 6440.
  27. ^ "No. 33451". The London Gazette. 28 December 1928. p. 8540.
  28. ^ "No. 33479". The London Gazette. 22 March 1929. p. 1972.
  29. ^ "No. 33711". The London Gazette. 28 April 1931. p. 2736.
  30. ^ "No. 34098". The London Gazette. 23 October 1934. p. 6711.
  31. ^ "No. 34226". The London Gazette. 3 December 1935. p. 7671.
  32. ^ "No. 34233". The London Gazette. 20 December 1935. p. 8197.
  33. ^ "No. 34725". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 November 1939. p. 7473.
  34. ^ "No. 34751". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 December 1939. p. 8245.
  35. ^ Sebag-Montefiore, Hugh (1 June 2006). Dunkirk, Fight to the Last Man (1 ed.). Viking. p. 720. ISBN 978-0-670-91082-3.
  36. ^ "Orders of Battle – Unit Commander and/or Staff Officer Details". Orders of – Second World War Military Unit Database. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  37. ^ "No. 37471". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 February 1946. p. 391.
  38. ^ "No. 38903". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 May 1950. p. 2234.
  39. ^ "No. 40787". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 May 1956. p. 3101.
  40. ^ "No. 40221". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 February 1954. p. 3882.
  41. ^ "No. 41839". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 October 1959. p. 6418.

Listed in order of publication year

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Arthur Dowler
Colonel of the East Surrey Regiment
Succeeded by
Regiment consolidated to form the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment