Those Commemorated

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that 9246 Private Norman Edward Rouse died aged 20, and was buried at the Lapugnoy Military Cementry, Pas de Calais, France.

Norman Rouse was baptised in Wolford on 7th March 1897, the youngest child of Charles Rouse, a labourer, and his wife, Sarah, of Great Wolford. He had two older siblings, Ethel and Ernest.

Norman is listed in the 1915 Evesham Journal "Roll of Honour" as having enlisted in "Kitchener's Army" ("The New Army"). This comprised all-volunteer battalions raised, at the insistence of Horatio Kitchener, the newly-appointed Secretary of State for War, during the few weeks immediately following the outbreak of hostilities. The volunteers signed on for three years or until the conclusion of the war; these newly-raised battalions were named "Service Battalions" to distinguish them from their Regular and Territorial Army counterparts.

The 10th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment was raised at Budbrooke Barracks during August 1914, at which time Norman Rouse would have been only 17 years old. The battalion was sent to Tidworth, on the edge of Salisbury Plain, to commence training, becoming part of 57 Brigade of the 19th (Western) Division.

The 10th Warwicks landed in France on 17 July, 1915, and made for the La Bassée Front. During April, 1916, the 19th Division moved to the Somme battlefield and took a principal part in the taking of the village of La Boisselle. The 10th Warwicks remained on the Western Front throughout the war; in fact, by the Autumn of 1918, they were back where they had started out, in the La Bassée area. According to the battalion's War Diary, a series of attacks and enemy counter-attacks on 21 and 25 September resulted in extremely heavy casualties, amongst whom Norman Rouse presumably numbered.

The last census in which the Rouse family appear together was in 1901. Brother Ernest died in 1904 at the age of 12, followed shorthly thereafter by father Charles, aged 44. Norman and his sister, Ethel, are recorded in the Great Wolford Census of 1911, living with their widowed mother and her brother, Thomas Allen. Ethel married in 1915, and appears to have spent the rest of her life in Blockley; mother Sarah died in the Spring of 1918. Thus, of the immediate family, Ethel alone would have survived to mourn Norman, and she probably would not then have been resident in the Wolfords.

Lawrie Thompson / David Farman