Ernest Roome was a Reservist at the outbreak of the Great War. He was employed by John Dickinson working at one of their Mills as an Engineer’s Labourer, and was called back to duty when War was declared. He was born in 1879 at Nash Mills, one of four children born to William and Annie Roome, living at Nash Mills Road. At the time of the 1891 Census William worked as a Bricklayer’s Labourer and by 1901 he was employed as an Engine Fitter’s Labourer. Annie was employed at John Dickinson’s Paper Factory working as an Envelope Packer.
By 1911 the Census recorded that Ernest had married, and by that time had one son and three daughters, and together with his wife Elizabeth the family lived at 32 Railway Terrace.
Ernest had served in the Army before the Great War, but details of his service have not been found. As a Reservist he was called back to service at the outbreak of War, and enlisted at London as a Guardsman. The Abbots Langley Parish Magazine Roll of Honour listed him serving with the Grenadier Guards in September 1914. His Medal Roll record indicated that he embarked for France on 6th November 1915, and the Parish Magazine reported in September 1916 that he had been wounded.
On 21st March 1918 the German Army launched its Spring Offensive. A sudden attack along the British Front Line between Arras and St Quentin, in dense fog, and following a massive artillery barrage, caused great confusion. The British were forced to desperately defend their lines, and eventually fell back in a dis-ordered fashion. Five Abbots Langley men were killed in this action around the end of March. One of these was Ernest Roome. Just before the attack, on 20th March, the 2nd Grenadier Guards were in reserve at Arras. On the 21st March the town was shelled as the German offensive began. As things became desperate along the British Front the Guards were ordered back to the Front Line on 25th March, to defend a position between Ayette and Boisleux St Marc (south-east of Arras). At about 7pm the Germans were spotted advancing, covered by machine gun fire, which caused a number of casualties. Determined fire from the Grenadiers halted the advance. Ernest Roome may have been wounded in this attack. He was buried at Merville, some 40 miles from this area, which suggested that he had been wounded and evacuated to the hospitals behind the lines, where he finally succumbed to his wounds on 27th March. On 26th March the Guards moved on to a new position near the Arras to Albert railway close to the village of Moyenneville. Soon after dawn on 27th March the Germans attacked their position. Many men were injured by shelling, but the Guards held the line, and continued to hold the line for several more days. Maybe Ernest Roome was wounded or killed in this action and somehow he made it back to Merville on the same day as his death was recorded as 27th March 1918. Ernest was one of five men from Abbots Langley killed in the German Spring Offensive.
“In May 1918 the Abbots Langley Parish Magazine recorded “Ernest William Roome was a Reservist in the Grenadier Guards, and was called to the Colours at the outbreak of war. He was a married man with five children, whom he leaves to mourn his loss, and to whom we offer our sincerest sympathy. He lived at Railway Terrace, which small part of the Parish has been very badly hit”.
Ernest Roome was buried at Merville Communal Cemetery in Northern France, and was commemorated on the Abbots Langley War Memorial and the John Dickinson War Memorial.