This page is dedicated to the memory of:
Royal Army Medical Corps
Roger was born at Redditch in April 1942, the youngest of three sons to Edith May and Frederick Walter Nutbeem. His brothers were Stuart (1938) and Trevor (1940). After attending Alcester Grammar School he went on to agricultural college, followed by two years in Holland working and studying the Dutch system of dairy farming. He then changed direction, and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps aged 20, qualifying as a dispenser. His potential had been recognised though, and he was selected for officer training in 1967, then commissioned into his old Corps – the Royal Army Medical Corps.
After training Royal Army Medical Corps recruits, first as a platoon officer, then as a company commander and ‘house officer’, Roger developed his adventure training skills, becoming an expert canoeist and mountain expedition leader. In addition, he was a keen folk singer, with a talent for playing a somewhat battered guitar that went with him on exercises and became a welcome feature of team self- entertainment during long deployments. His knowledge of dairy farming also proved useful on one exercise in Germany when his unit was camped in a barn. One of the cows was in labour and having a difficult time. Roger sorted her out and delivered the calf, using a block and tackle! When the farmer arrived, he was a bit concerned to see all this going on without him, but it was soon schnapps all round.
Roger was totally committed to the Royal Army Medical Corps and had an ability to motivate people. He was never happier than when working with young people who shared his enthusiasm and zest for life. He was second in command of 16 Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps which was deployed to the South Atlantic as part of 5 Brigade. He was particularly admired by the Airborne element of 16 Field Ambulance, the Parachute Clearing Troop Royal Army Medical Corps, who were later to achieve great things alongside their Royal Navy and Royal Marine counterparts of ‘The Red and Green life Machine’, the Field Hospital at Ajax Bay in 1982.
Roger deployed south in QE2, continuing to chivvy, cajole, challenge and generally inspire his men. One of his subordinates described him as ‘turning up everywhere – you never knew when or where he was going to pop up next. He was the guy who kept us going …’
After visiting Ajax Bay when he landed there on the 2nd June, Roger travelled round to Fitzroy in the RFA Sir Galahad on the 8th June. The ship was attacked there by Argentine fighter-bombers, and Roger was killed instantly, on the upper deck, by a bomb fragment. His body was later recovered to shore, temporarily interred, and then repatriated to the UK. He now lies in the military cemetery at Tidworth.
Roger left a widow, Tricia, who he had married in 1970, and who was appointed MBE in her own right for the work that she did for the 16 Field Ambulance Wives Club in the aftermath of the Galahad disaster. They had two children – Martin (1974) who is now in management, and Kathryn (1977) who has just graduated from the University of London in English and Drama. Happily, Tricia has now remarried and lives in the south west of England.
This poem was sent by an Australian exchange Doctor who knew Roger well.
“Epitaph for a Soldier”
Build me no monuments should my turn come;
Please do not weep for me and waste your tears.
Write not my name on honour rolls of fame
To crumble with man’s memory through the years.
Wear no dark clothes; speak in no saddened voice
Seeking rare virtues, which do not exist;
Just let me lie under the cool sweet earth
And sleep in peace, where I will not be missed.
I ask for one thing, that in still far off days
Someone who knew me should in their daily round
Suddenly pause, caught by some sight or sound,
Some glance, some phrase, some trick of memory’s ways
Which brings me to his mind. Then I shall wait
Eager with hope: perhaps to hear “How great
If he were with us still.” Then, at the end
All that I wish for – just: “He was my friend.”
By David McNicholl