Major-General Oliver Roome. RIP.

Discussion in 'Memorials & Cemeteries' started by CXX, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. CXX

    CXX New Member

    Major-General Oliver Roome, who has died aged 88, saw action in the Second World War and subsequently became involved in sponsoring young people on voyages in sail training schooners.

    In May 1942 Roome, a young Sapper officer, embarked for the Middle East and served in the North Africa campaign as a troop leader with 6 Field Squadron RE. His baptism of fire was the Battle of El Alamein.

    On the morning of October 24, his troop, part of a convoy, was stationary in a taped gap in the middle of a large enemy anti-tank minefield when they were attacked by Stuka dive-bombers. There was no cover, and nowhere to go, so they made themselves as small and low as they could.

    In contrast some Maoris, part of 2nd New Zealand Division, who had been a long time in the desert, stood up and threw cricket balls to each other as the bombs whined down. Roome said later that it was a valuable lesson in risk assessment.

    Oliver McCrea Roome, eldest son of Major General Sir Horace Roome (Engineer-in-Chief, India, from 1943 to 1947), was born at Dehra Dun, India, on March 9 1921.

    He was educated at Wellington before going to RMA Woolwich for a week. On general mobilisation, in September 1939, he enlisted and, after the Officer Cadet Training Unit, was commissioned into the Royal Engineers.

    In July 1943, then a captain with 626 Field Company RE, he took part in the invasion of Sicily. As his unit came ashore from a large liner, he found the enemy cleared from the beachhead but had to deal instead with an unexploded bomb.

    In September, he landed on the toe of Italy, near Reggio di Calabria and, in the long slog northwards, his units were involved in clearing mines, booby traps and anti-personnel devices. They also accompanied infantry patrols, repaired demolished roads and built a notable amount of the Bailey bridging erected in the campaign.

    Roome moved to HQ Eighth Army in January 1944 as GSO3 (Operations). He took command of 625 Field Squadron in June but was wounded in October and evacuated. After a spell in England, in December 1945, he moved to HQ Allied Land Forces South East Asia in Singapore.

    He commanded 219 Field Park Company in Malaya in 1946 and then went to the War Office as GSO 2 (Intelligence). After attending the Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME), he was second-in-command of 11 HQ Regiment RE at Ripon.

    Staff College was followed by a staff appointment at GHQ Middle East Land Forces in the Canal Zone. In 1959, after appointments as a company commander at Sandhurst and GSO 2 at HQ Scottish Command, he moved to Germany to take command of 38 (Berlin) Field Squadron RE, part of the Berlin Brigade.

    Command of 107 Corps Engineer Regiment TA was followed by a return to RSME as chief instructor. In 1965, he became head of the officer manning branch at the MoD and, in 1970, promoted brigadier, he was their director of Army recruiting. Roome was promoted to major-general in 1973 upon his appointment as Chief, Joint Services Liaison Organisation, in Bonn. He retired from the Army in 1976.

    He settled on the Isle of Wight and became involved in local, particularly youth, activities and sailing. He had a great interest in the era of square rigged ships and, in 1973, started sailing as a watch officer in the sail training schooners Sir Winston Churchill and Malcolm Miller.

    Each autumn, from 1976 to 1993, he sailed in the ships on a two-week voyage for people aged 16 to 24. In 1980, he started sponsoring young people from the Isle of Wight on voyages in the ships with the help of a charitable trust. More than 200 islanders took part in these voyages under his auspices.

    He also sailed some 70,000 miles around northern Europe in his own boat, Morning Sky, a 32ft Nicholson sloop. He joined the Royal Cruising Club in 1973 and was Rear Commodore from 1984 to 1987.

    He was a member of the Royal Solent Yacht Club from 1939, the Royal Ocean Racing Club from 1947 and the Royal Yacht Squadron from 1981. From 1971 to 1973, he was Commodore of the Royal Engineer Yacht Club. Appointed CBE in 1973, he was Vice Lord Lieutenant, Isle of Wight, from 1987 to 1995.

    Oliver Roome died on November 8. He married, in 1947, Isobel Anstis Jordan. She predeceased him and he is survived by their two sons and a daughter.

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