Frederick Arthur ROPER (1896-1917)

9th Infantry Brigade AIF

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Frederick Roper

33rd BATTALION A.I.F.

Private: 1236 Frederick Arthur ROPER.


Born: 27th October 1896. Walcha, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:

Died: 7th June 1917. Died of Wounds Messines, Belgium.


Father: William Roper.

Mother: Eliza Roper. nee:.


INFORMATION

Frederick Arthur Roper enlisted with the 2nd Reinforcements, 33rd Battalion AIF and embarked from Sydney on board HMAT A74 "Marathon" on the 4th May 1916 and disembarked at Devonport England on the 9th July 1916.

HMAT A74 Marathon

HMAT A74 "Marathon"

Frederick and the 2nd Reinforcements were marched in the the 9th Training Battalion but less than a month into his training Frederick was admitted to the (VD) Hospital at Bulford where he received treatment for Gonorrhoea. Frederick was transfered to Fovant Camp on the 28th of August and Struck off Strength on the 21st October 1916. After Frederick was discharged from Fovant on the 21st of November he had spent a total of 108 Days in treatment. Frederick was marched in to the No:1 Command Depot on the 23rd of November 1916 and rejoined the 9th Training Battalion the next day.

Whilst at the durrington Army Camp at Larkhill, Frederick was Charged with the A.W.L. from place of Parade detailed by his C.O. Award Forfeits 2 Days Pay by Officer Commanding, 9th Training Battalion on the 10th December 1916. Frederick proceeded overseas for France on the 20th December via Folkstone onboard the "Princess Victoria"

S.S. Princess Victoria

S.S. Princess Victoria"

Frederick disembarked at Etaples on the 21st of December and was marched out to the Front on the 25th where he was Taken on in Strength with the 33rd Battalion and joined D Company at Armentieres on the 26th of January 1917. Frederick was detatched to duty with 2nd Australian Tunnelling Corps on the 7th of February 1917 but rejoined the 33rd and was admitted to Hospital on the 2nd March after he was treated by the 11th Australian Field Ambulance who evacuated him the the 7th General Hospital suffering from Orchitis. Frederick was treated for Mumps at St Omer for the next 3 weeks and upon his discharge was marched in to rejoin his unit on the 28th of March 1917 in the Field.

9th April 1917.

On the 9th the 33rd once again took over the fron line, again at L'Epinette. They moved to Senninghem on the 12th where they were headquartered until the 25th. Then once again they were on the march, via Renescure and Pradelle to Armentieres, Where, on the 28th they gained a well earned rest. On the 21st May the men of the 33rd were moved to Le Touquet to Ploegsteert Wood for the usual working parties, trench maintenance being high on the agenda for the comming offensive. Three days later they were at St Vyes for more of the same, releived on the 26th May by the 34th Battalion and moved back to billets at Nippe.

(Never a Backward Step; Edwards 1996)

At 4:10am enemy opened a heavy bombardment on our on our front line from RIVER LYS to LOWNDES AVENUE, being particularly heavy on left Company Sector. At this point enemy dropped a curtain of shrapnel and H.E. on Supports and Communication Trenches. S.O.S. was at once sent up. Artillery responded at once. Enemy evidently attempted to raid but did not reach our parapet. Barrage slackened at 6:35am. Enemy used light and heavy Minnewerfere togeth with all sizes of H.E. Our casualties, 5 killed, 15 wounded, including 1 Officer Lieutenant: Clarence William BODDY slightly wounded.

9th May 1917.

Informant; Lieutenant: 1205 William Alexander McLEAN. At 1:00am I reached the bombing post and the ledt of "D" Gap. We were observing down the gap and saw movement 70 yards down the gap. We then saw three crouching figures with round caps making for our support line. I ordered the men to get there rifles and bombs ready and told them to fire. The three Germans dropped flat. Private: 5043 Albert Francis LANE of his own accord jumped out of the bay and got to a point 15 yards down the gap and commenced to throw bombs. The Lewis Guns then commenced to fire at the place where the men had been seen. We then saw 25 Germans making back to their own line. The Lewis Guns then fired three seperate bursts at them and we saw at least 6 Germans fall, in NO MAN'S LAND 70 yards from our own front line. The Lewis Guns continued firing and were sweeping perfectly. We then saw a German limping 30 yards from our own trench; the Lewis Gun was turned on him and he fell.

Three men and myself went out immediately and found a German sitting in a shell hole. We brought him in although he was screeming with pain. The stretcher bearers were sent for and the German was taken to Company Headquarters, thense to the Aid Post. Our party threw 24 bombs and fired 50 rounds from their rifles. The Lewis Gunners fired 10 magazines. The Germans made their entrance by means of the old trench which runs from our lines through NO MAN'S LAND. From the point where Private: 5043 Albert Francis LANE threw bombs the gap is heavily wired and we could make no progress to attack them. The Germans also left in a diagonal direction so it was impossible to get in NO MAN'S LAND and cut them off.

Officer of the Watch.

LE TOUQUET 1:00am. Enemy silently raided our trenches and were driven off with Lewis Gun fire and bombs leaving 1 prisoner in our hands. Trench maintanence and repairs were carried out over the next 4 days.

33rd Battalion Unit Diary

7th June 1917.

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES

The 3rd Australian Divisions first major offencive was at Messines Ridge on the 7th June 1917. The Australian 3rd Division was a part of the II Anzac Corps which was allotted to the first assault. The 25th New Zealand, 3rd Australian Division with the 4th Australian Division in reserve. The 4th Division were battle hardened troops who had fought many major battles.The 3rd Australian Division were having problems getting to the "jump off" point. The day before the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades were bombarded by German Gas-Shells around Hill 63 and Plugstreet Wood. Many of the Aussies were not wearing gas masks, but dispite this they pressed on even though they received 500 casulties.

They made it to the "jump off" point but only just with some of the men from the 9th and 10th going straight over the top without stopping. The mines went up and the attack commenced behind a protective barrage. The II Anzac Corps were attacking on the right with their objective being the southern shoulder of the ridge which included Messines, the Dover and St Yves areas as far south to the east of Plugstreet Wood.

Major General Sir John MONASH's 3rd Division had to contend with a tricky 3 mile approach out of Plugstreet Wood and after the German gas attack, but they were not detered. The 9th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General: Alexander JOBSON and the 10th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General W R NICHOLL had just made the jumping off point but some of the men did not stop, going straight into the assault from the approach march.

Their objective lay between St Yves and the Douve. The mines at Trench 127 and Trench 12 at Factory Farm were laid to aid this task. The explosions erupted a few seconds before zero hour and created craters of 200 feet in diameter, completely obliterating the German defence line as the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades went over the top. The mine crates forced the 9th and 10th Brigades to veer to the left and right which caused some confusion with the main assault. It is testimony to the quality of training that every man knew the ground, tasks and objectives so well.

Private: 1804 John CARROLL 33rd Battalion, rushed the enemy's trench and bayoneted four of the German occupants. He then noticed a comrade in difficulties and went to his assistance, killing another German. He then attacked single handed a German Machine Gun Team, killing all three of them and capturing the gun. He later rescued two of his comraded who had been buried alive by German Shell Fire, and in spite of heavy shelling and machine gun fire he dug them out alive and saved them from certain death. John was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The German foward zone was completely engulfed and taken by the main assault. The two supporting battalions of each brigade then passed the leading battalion to continue the advance. The men were constantly re-supplied and the ridge was taken. There were many German prisoners taken during the offencive. The 3rd Division was well ahead with the 9th Infantry Brigade pushing on beyond Grey Farm, and on the right the 10th Infantry Brigade were veering left towards Septieme Barn north of Douve.

The German resistance was heavy but was generally brushed aside by tanks and artillery before the infantry had to become too involved.The 4th Bavarian Divisions Artillery had made little impact, but as the day wore on the 3rd Division and later the 4th Australian Division received many casulties from German artillery. (70% of all casulties during WW1 were from artillery).

By 9:00am nearly 6 hours after the assault began the Germans were in dissaray, but there was a major problem as the Australians received less casulties as anticipated and when ordered to dig into the ridge they had so many men, that some could not find shelter. the 35th battalion were dug in around Seaforth Farm.

The second phase of the operation was to take the Oosttaverne Line. The 3rd Australian Division would now be in reserve with the 4th Division attacking. The 9th Infantry Brigade (33-34-35-36Bn) were near Thatched Cottage facing Warneton. The river Lys was to their right and the Plugstreet Wood was now behind them.

Once their objectives were taken the troops consolidated. A barrarge to stop and counter attack was shortnened and caught three battalions which had to retire. By 9:00pm this part of the Oosttaverne Line was abandonded. At 10:45pm General Godley ordered the 3rd and 4th Divisions to retake it. This they did by the early hours of the 8th of June.

The Battle for Messines Ridge during May-June 1917 saw 35 officers and 1,631 other ranks loose their lives.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.
33rd Battalion. AIF 8 Officers 382 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 10 Officers 378 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 431 Other ranks
36th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 421 Other ranks
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 2 Officer 17 Other ranks
9th Light Trench Mortor Battery. 1 Officer 2 Other ranks

Field Dressing Station, Messines 07/06/1917

FIELD DRESSING STATION, MESSINES 7th June 1917.

Frederick Died of Wounds at Messines during this action from Multiple Gun Shot Wounds on the 7th June 1917 and was treated by the 9th Australian Field Ambulance in the Field and is remembered with honour and is commemerated in perpetuity by the Commonweath War Graves Commission at the Strand Military War Cemetery.

Strand Military War Cemetery

Grave of Frederick Arthur ROPER

Strand Military War Cemetery

STRAND MILITARY WAR CEMETERY

Guyra Argus. Thursday 16th August 1917.

Major: Harold Fletcher WHITE. D.S.O., writes from France to Mr H Roper of Walcha, as follows: "It is sad news I have for you of your son, No. 1236, Private F. A. Roper. He was shot by a sniper while digging a new line of trenches he had gallantly helped to capture from the enemy. He died at his post, game to the last a thorough soldier. Allow me to offer you my deepest sympathy in your sad loss.

Trove Article

Family Information

Frederick was a single Labourer from Derby Street, Walcha, New South Wales upon enlistment.

Frederick Roper     Frederick Roper

Frederick Arthur Roper; Walcha Memorial Hall.

My great uncle Frederick Arthur Roper Service Number: 1236. Enlisted: 24 January 1916, Armidale, New South Wales. Last Rank: Private. Last Unit: 33rd Infantry Battalion. Born: Walcha, New South Wales, 27 October 1896. Home Town: Walcha, Walcha, New South Wales. Occupation: Labourer. Died: Died of Wounds (GSW - multiple), Belgium, 7 June 1917, aged 20 years. Cemetery: Strand Military Cemetery.

Karen Roper Payne. (December 2015)

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Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)

Under Construction; 09/06/2010-08/02/2016.


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