Who was Mervyn Roach?

Mervyn Roach was my grandfather’s half-brother, the son of the late Richard & Eliza Roach, who ran the Post Office & General Stores in the village of West Down, North Devon. Mervyn worked for the Post Office in London, hence enlistment in the 1/15 London Regiment (Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles), “B” Company No. 8 Platoon. This was a volunteer and territorial force from 1798 to 1921.


This diary is a record of daily life in France until he went on leave. He returned to the front but did not take up the diary again.


Mervyn died on the 23rd December 1915 and is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves section of Bethune cemetery. His name is on West Down war memorial and there is a memorial tablet on his parents’ grave in West Down churchyard. He was 25.


The diary refers to my grandparents, Alf & Zillah Roach who sent food parcels -some of which arrived in good order. Others not. He also mentions Lucy Perryman to whom he got engaged when on leave. While working in London he lived with his Aunt Emma. He frequently mentions her in the diary.

His cousin James Harris, also of West Down was  killed in France. He was the village baker. He, like many West Down young men enlisted in the Devonshire Regiment.  He died on November 10th 1917 and is buried in Pont d’ Achelles Military Cemetery