Roy Launceton – a mysterious hero

Early life & family – Roy was the son of Mrs. Laura Mary Launceton, a widow who, between 1918 and her death (age 68) in 1930, lived at 5 Dennington Park Mansions, West Hampstead. The family were members of the congregation at Hampstead Parish Church.

War service

He was commissioned as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant on 22 April 1916. He joined the 16th (Service) Bn (Duke of Cambridge’s Own) of the Middlesex Regiment – a reserve battalion formed in September 1914 from public schools units – and was subsequently attached to the 2nd Bn (23rd Infantry brigade, 8th Division). His battalion was mobilized for war at the beginning of November 1914 and went to France, providing reinforcements for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) after the Regular Army had been badly beaten by the Germans at the battles of Mons and the Marne.

His unit remained on the Western Front throughout the war, taking part in a number of actions, including the Somme (1916) and the 3rd battle of Ypres (1917). Roy was promoted to Lieutenant in September 1916 and to Captain in July 1917.

Death & commemoration – He died on 24 March 1918 after the battle of St Quentin, at the start of the Somme campaign of 1918. He was aged 34, and had survived almost 3½ years of fighting. He is buried at Assevillers New British Cemetery, Somme (grave ref: II.E.7) and commemorated on the War Memorial in Church Row. His mother claimed his personal effects and his medals.

Whilst his life may have been a mystery to begin with, he was a real hero.

This page was last updated on November 24th, 2014.

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