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LAMBLE, Roy MC (1883-1958)

LAMBLE, Capt Roy MC (1883-1958)

Soldier and staff member, and known as ‘Rats’ Lamble, Roy was born at Durham in 1883, the son of George Robert and Catherine Mary nee Mullins. In 1897, when living at Buckland’s Hill, Newtown he entered Geelong College as a day student, becoming Dux of the School in 1900. He then took two years of an Arts degree at Ormond College, University of Melbourne before returning to the College as a House Master for twelve years from 1903.

After the outbreak of World War I, Roy Lamble enlisted in the AIF on 1 May, 1916. He had been appointed Adjutant at the Geelong Camp in 1915, then transferred to Ballarat and served in a similar capacity there. Shortly before his embarkation in 1916 he married Elizabeth Parsons Campbell, daughter of Edward Campbell and Margaret nee Parsons; her address on the Embarkation Roll was Mrs E P Lamble, Rathkeak, Heidelberg.

He left for the front on 27th May 1916 on HMAT All Ascanius, as Adjutant of 39 Battalion, 10th Brigade, which was raised at Bendigo and served in France. A T Patterson wrote of his service in the history of the 39th Battalion, The Thirty-Ninth: 'The first adjutant of the 39th Battalion was Captain R Lamble. On him devolved much of the arduous, detailed work of forming and organising the unit. A keen and able administrator possessing both geniality and the gift of tact, he made an indelible imprint on the 39th. Only those with military service can appreciate the real importance of the adjutant's duties both in peace and war. While on service, Captain Lamble was often busy for twenty-four hours a day. The high efficiency of the battalion owed much to his qualities. In May 1917, when he joined the Brigade staff the whole battalion regretted his departure. Later he became Brigade-Major. He was awarded the Military Cross, gazetted on 3rd June 1918; the citation read: 'This officer has acted first as Assistant Brigade Major and later as Brigade Major during the past six months. He has at all times shown exceptional ability, thoroughness and organising powers and his work has been of a uniformly high standard. He has had much to do with the drafting of orders and plans for both Major and Minor Offensives and much of the success of those operations is undoubtedly due to the careful and able manner in which this Officer carried out his duties’. He was also mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig's Despatches, gazetted on 1st June 1917' .


He wrote to the Principal, W T Price from France, dated 7 April 1918, and part of this letter is quoted in Pegasus of May 1918: ‘In spite of over two and a half years' absence, I find that the fifteen years at the College has still too much hold on me to let me forget the many pleasant times I had there, and the sight of the Xmas Pegasus yesterday, decided me to write...We woke up one day in a very delightful back area, where we were training, to find that the long threatened push had started. From that time for nearly a week we were making moves on very short notice, and having at times plenty of excitement. It is wonderful how little sleep one can do with when the occasion demands — I beat all my records this time. However, we got here in time to be of great use. It was pitiful to see the population making their way back with all they could take of their household goods, in many cases pushing their loads on the big barrows that are so common all through the country...This is quite the best part of France we have been in — the Somme and the Ancre are full of fish, and the country is like that which the Barrabools would be if they were covered, with small woods dotted about...Alan Tait called in two days ago —he has a commission in a Scottish regiment, and seeing Australians in the village, came in to see if he knew anyone, and we both got a surprise’ .

Roy Lamble took leave to England in June 1918, having been promoted Brigade Major in January, and returned to Australia on HMT Themistodes, embarking on 12th June 1919. His battalion's battle honours were Messines 1917, Ypres 1917, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Somme 1918, Ancre 1918, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, St Quentin Canal and France and Flanders 1916-1918.

The Australian War Memorial (AWM) Collection holds several letters, one written by General Birdwood to Lamble, congratulating him on being awarded the Military Cross, also two postcard photos of Lamble. There is also a group portrait of the Headquarters Staff of the 10th Infantry Brigade, taken on 7th July 1918, in front of the Chateau at Querrieu, while the Brigade was in reserve, before moving to the Hamel sector from which it advanced in the offensive of 8th August. This photo includes Pte J C Hendy, Captain R Lamble MC, and Lt C C Gale, all Old Geelong Collegians. Roy Lamble, among others including C E W Bean, consented to assist with the writing of The Thirty-Ninth, his unit history.

In 1928, Lamble returned to the College to teach and in 1932 following the inauguration of the Officers’ Training Corps at the School Lamble took command of it. His ‘retirement in 1947 ended an association of fifty years during which, boy and man, he had been a member of the school under its first six Headmasters’ . His brother Dr Gilbert Lamble (1885-1917) was also educated at Geelong College. During Roy Lamble’s ‘retirement’ he generously assisted the Brotherhood of St Laurence at Carrum Downs.

Sources: Notman et al. Centenary History; Extracts: James Affleck, Collegians’ at the Great War pp232-233; Pegasus December 1947 p5; Obituary-Pegasus, December 1958 p59.
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