Edward Roe

As a Sapper, Roe's Regimental Pay per Diem was  1s. 2 1/2d. plus Working Pay per Diem of 1s. to 4s.

Roe appears to have arrived in April 1859 with the detachment from the Thames City.

In March 1860, he was part of the detail working at the Harrison River under the Command of Captain Grant.

RE Camp, Harrison River,


I deeply regret to have to report that Sappers “Elliot”, “Manstree” and “Roe” of this Detachment were accidentally drowned last evening, while attempting to return in a canoe from the mouth of the Harrison River, during a severe storm.

From the evidence of Sapper Brown, the only one of the Canoe’s Crew who was saved, it would appear that after spending an hour or so at Mr. William’s house at Carnarvon, they started on their return in opposition to his (William’s) advice about 6:30 pm, being anxious to get back to camp by dark.

On rounding a point a mile below this camp the canoe became exposed to a heavy sea and swamped, but being in shallow water, they got out – hauled her on the beach and emptied her.

They then tracked her along the shore for 300 or 400 yards and again attempted to cross the river – The violence of the gale however precluded the possibility of steering, and driving before it, she gradually filled and soon upset in deep water.

Brown, who had light boots on, swam to the canoe, and got astride her, and, having kept hold of his paddle, managed to reach the shore, and crawl nearly dead into camp.  Of the other three poor fellows who had Gum boots on, Brown says that One (Sapper Roe) held on to him for a short time but soon sank exhausted – of the other two he saw no more.

Immediately on Sapper Brown’s arrival in camp, I took every means in my power by sending boats and men to the spot, to rescue any that might still be floating or have been thrown on the beach, but I regret to say all my efforts were unsuccessful - The Storm was one of the most terrific I ever witnessed.

Could I possibly have foreseen that men would have been rash enough to venture out in a light canoe in such weather, I would have sent down to stop them if possible, and deeply as I lament the melancholy loss of 3 fine young fellows I cannot but remark on the recklessness of the second attempt to cross the river, when the canoe had already been swamped with them in shallow water.

Brown assures me that the men were all quite sober and kept their presence of mind till the last minute, and I think the loss of at least one, viz: “Manstree”, who was the most powerful swimmer in the Detachment, was owing to his having long boots on, which must have utterly incapacitated him for swimming.

I have not yet succeeded in recovering the bodies, as the wind has been too strong to cause any extensive search to be made: but when it lulls, I trust that the clearness of the water will admit of their being found.

I should remark that the canoe, which was a long, light, frail affair, belonged to Sapper Roe, one of the poor fellows we have lost.

Feeling as I do the responsibility of the charge of so many men, I trust you will allow me to observe that an occurrence of this nature could not possibly have been foreseen.  The weather, when the men went down from this camp, was nearly calm.  The Storm came on without any warning, and as but an hour elapsed between its commencement and the occurrence of the accident there would hardly have been time to stop the men even if I had sent a messenger down immediately. – Again expressing my deep regret that I should have to report the loss of so many men of a Detachment under my temporary command.

I have etc., etc.,

H. Spencer Palmer
Lieutenant Royal Engineers

P.S. Brown I am happy to say is quite recovered this morning.

To Colonel R.C. Moody RE
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Sunday, 18th March, 1860