3/442 Private Philip Roots
Philip Sydney Roots was born on 3rd December 1889 in Sussex, England the son of Mr Henry Arthur Roots, Hove, Sussex.[i]
Philip like a number of other young single men was recruited in England and Scotland to fill positions in Mental Institutes throughout New Zealand. Philip arrived in New Zealand about 1910 as he played representative soccer (Association Football) for Wellington in 1911 – 1914[ii] and also played soccer for the Porirua Mental Hospital team. Philip Sydney Roots was the captain of the Porirua Mental Hospital team that in 1913 won the Charity Cup and were runners up in the Wellington Championship.
Hospital AFC team 1913
Philip Sydney Roots-middle second row.
Six of the players from the team served with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) [iii]
On 21st October 1914 Philip Roots was one of nine men[iv] from Porirua Mental Hospital to enlist in the New Zealand Medical Corps, five of the men were from the Hospital team and their recruitment officer was Major McKillop who they worked for when he was Doctor McKillop the Superintendant of the Porirua Asylum. Major McKillop had also played with the Porirua Mental Hospital soccer team.
The new recruits were trained at Trentham where 3/442 Private Roots, Mounted Ambulance was promoted to Corporal before going overseas on 14th December 1914 with the 2nd Reinforcements Medical Corps, Mounted Field Ambulance. Corporal Roots arrived in Egypt in January 1915 and on joining the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces (NZEF) Corporal Roots reverted to the rank of private and was transferred from Mounted to the Field Ambulance as New Zealand units prepared for the landings in the Dardanelles, Turkey. Private Roots sailed with the Field Ambulance, on 12th April 1915, for the landings at Gallipoli.[v]
Also sailing with the Field Ambulance and from Porirua were Privates Heath, Foster, Munro, Topham, Walsh and Lance Corporal Singleton[vi]. Private Roots served at ANZAC Cove with the Field Ambulance till 22 August 1915 when he was transferred as a Sapper to the Signals Company of the New Zealand Engineers. Sapper Roots remained at ANZAC until 24th October 1915 when he was shipped to Lemmos Island, Greece for rest. Sapper Roots remained at Lemmos for a month, two weeks of it spent in hospital with influenza, before returning to ANZAC Cove. Sapper Roots would remain at ANZAC Cove for a week before he was evacuated, 12 December 1915, on the Hospital Ship HS Oxfordshire with bronchitis to the NZ General Hospital in Cairo, Egypt.
Following recovery Sapper Roots was attached to New Zealand General Hospital and remained in Cairo until June 1916 when the hospital transferred on 13th September 1916 to Brockenhurst, England. Sapper Roots remained with the NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst being promoted to Corporal on 11th January 1918. Philip Sydney Roots married Dorothy F K Humphries in June 1919[vii] and it is possible that the couple returned together to New Zealand in September 1919 when Corporal Roots was repatriated.
Corporal Roots was discharged on 5th December 1919 he had served 5 years and 49 days with the NZEF. Philip initially returned to work at Porirua Mental Hospital but may have received land in the Returned Servicemen’s ballot as he was playing soccer in Gisborne in 1920 and his medals were sent to him there in 1921.
Philip his wife and any family did not remain in New Zealand both Philip and Dorothy are recorded as dying in Gosport, England in 1967.[viii]
Philip’s Gallipoli Shield was released to a close relative in 2012.
Allan Dodson – November 2014
Alexander Turnbull Library – ref 1 / 2 -194970 – F : Mental Hospital Football Club 1913
Mental about Wests - 100 years of fame, fortune, drama & despair: PHC Lucas & H Moran
Archway Archives New Zealand Military records: 3/422 Philip Sydney Roots
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Records: 3/411 Henry Heath
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Records: 3/401 Herbert Foster
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Records: 3/97 Wilfred Singleton of Roots
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Records: 3/445 Arthur Harold Topham
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Records: 3/426 Kenneth Munro
[i] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 3/422 Private Philip Sydney Roots
[ii] Crazy about Wests: List of Wellington Association Football representatives who also played for the Porirua Hospital team.
[iii] NZEF Members in the 1913 Hospital AFC team : H Heath, G Hughes, P S Roots, C Russell, W Skinner, J Willis.
[iv] Porirua Hospital staff enlisting: J Alexander*, H Heath*, A Foley*, H Foster, K Munro, P S Roots*, W Skinner*, A Topham, F Walsh* (* AFC player)
[v] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 3/422 Private Philip Sydney Roots
[vi] Archway Archives New Zealand Military files: 3/411 Henry Heath, 3/401 Herbert Foster, 3/460 Francis William Walsh, 3/445 Arthur Harold Topham, 3/426 Kenneth Munro, 3/97 Wilfred Singleton
[vii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 3/422 Private Philip Sydney Roots
[viii] UK Free BDM: Roots Dorothy FK & Roots Philip