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Eric Roberts was born in 1896 in Trefriw, Carnarvonshire Wales, where his father Thomas worked as a miner. At some point early in his life his family moved to Glenridding and Thomas started working at Greenside Mine. We believe Eric had a brother who died as a child and this may have been Heber Edward Roberts, who died in Glenridding at the start of 1901 aged 7.
The Roberts family lived at 28 Glenridding, two doors down from the family of John Pool, who was the same age as Eric, and would have attended Patterdale School with him. At some point between 1901 and 1911 Thomas died, and his mother moved to Chacewater, near Truro in Cornwall, where Eric’s father Thomas was born.
We know from Eric’s Medal Index Card (see below) that he must have enlisted in late 1914 or early 1915 into the Royal Engineers and arrived in France at the end of August 1915. Unfortunately we currently have no other details of his time in the Army before he was demobilised on the 27th March 1919. He is remembered alongside his school friends on the Glenridding Village Hall Roll of Honour.
When the war ended Eric seems to have joined many of the other men from the Dale who left to seek their fortune in America. In August 1922 he embarked from Liverpool aboard the White Star Liner Cedric bound for New York, arriving on the 3rd September 1922. His job is given as a “fitter”, and his landing papers show that his mother was still living in Chacewater, Cornwall. Eric returned home to see his mother at the end of December 1926 aboard the Cunard ship Berengaria, leaving once more for New York aboard the Ascania on the 24th Feb 1927. At some point that year he appears to have got married, although by 1930 he was living alone in Detroit as a boarder with no sign of his wife. It is quite possible he was in contact with other folk from the Dale who were working in Detroit at that time in the car industry, including The Marr Brothers and Joe Graham.
The only other trace of Eric we have found so far is a journey he made from Quebec in Canada back to the UK aboard the Cunard White Star liner Alaunia in August 1932. Once again on his travel papers he gave his proposed address in England as being 6 High Street, Chacewater, Cornwall, although we have no way of knowing if his mother was still alive at this point. We believe Eric then remained in Cornwall until his death at the age of 67 in 1964.
If you have any further information on the story of Eric or his family please let us know.
Sapper Eric Roberts
684, 512342, Royal Enginners
Born December 1896, Trefriw, Wales. Died March 1964 aged 67 in Cornwall
Son of Thomas and Mary Roberts, 28 Glenridding & Chacewater, Cornwall
Eric Roberts’ Medal Card
The Liner Cedric which first took Eric to New York