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  • Christina Drummond

Lance Corporal Leigh Richmond Roose MM, 9th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Lance Corporal Leigh Richmond Roose MM, 9th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action on the Somme.

The son of a Presbyterian minister, he was educated at Holt Academy, Aberystwyth University and King’s College, London, where he studied medicine. When he wasn’t studying, he could be found playing football. He is considered one of the most famous amateur football players in the world from the pre-war era, and earned twenty-four international caps playing for Wales. His international career spanned the years from 1900 to 1911, playing against England, Scotland and Ireland. He had a reputation as a playboy and an eccentric character, with his exploits frequently appearing in the press and in many books.

Lance Corporal Roose joined the army at the outbreak of the Great War, serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps in France and Gallipoli. On his return to England he enlisted as a private in the Royal Fusiliers and served on the Western Front, where it was commented on that his goal-keeping ability lent itself to his superb grenade-throwing. In August of 1916 he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery for his part in a successful attack on the Germans at Ration Trench – it was his first time in action, the regimental history recording: "Private Leigh Roose, who had never visited the trenches before, was in the sap when the flammenwerfer attack began. He managed to get back along the trench and, though nearly choked with fumes with his clothes burnt, refused to go to the dressing station. He continued to throw bombs until his arm gave out, and then, joining the covering party, used his rifle with great effect.” He was then promoted to the rank of lance corporal.

After ninety-nine days of consecutive fighting, he was mown down by machine-gun fire during an attack on the German trenches at Gueudecourt. The last person to see Lance Corporal Roose alive was former amateur international player Gordon Hoare, who described him as “running across No Man’s Land at full speed towards the enemy”. His body was never recovered, and his name appears on Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Leigh, from Holt near Wrexham in Denbighshire, was 38 years old.

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