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Lieutenant Patrick Joseph “Paddy” Roche – Olympian
First World War Army Indian
Lieutenant Patrick Joseph Roche
View record on CWGC

Patrick “Paddy” Roche was born in Blackpool, a suburb of Cork, Ireland, in 1886.

Paddy was educated at Blackrock College for Boys before taking up studies at Queen’s College in his native Cork, where he graduated with a degree in engineering.

It appears Paddy was interested in sport from a young age, as he used to play Gaelic football in his youth before joining the Knockrea Athletic Club in 1905.

After 1905, running became Paddy’s key focus, going on to become one of the finest sprinters in Ireland.

Paddy won the 220-yard sprint at the Gaelic AA Championships in 1906 and subsequently competed at the Irish AAA Championships. He won both sprints there in 1907 and was crowned victor of the 100-yard dash in the 1908 and 1909 editions of the All-Ireland championships.

On his way to his first title, Paddy defeated defending champion Dennis Murray and twice equalled the national IAAA 100-yard record.

Paddy also represented Ireland internationally, winning the 110-yard sprint against Scotland three times in 1907, 1908, and 1910.

As Ireland was part of the British Empire at the time, Paddy was selected to represent Great Britain at the London Olympics. He reached the semi-finals of the 200 metres event but was pipped to the post by George Hawkins. Like Paddy, George would also lose his life in the First World War.

Returning empty-handed from London, Paddy competed in a 220-yard event in Dublin against a team of Irish American athletes, emerging victorious.

Following graduation, Paddy joined the Indian Civil Service. On the outbreak of the First World War, he joined the Indian Army Reserve of Officers. He was attached to the 1st King George’s Own Sappers and Miners, Royal Engineers (India).

With his unit, he moved to Mesopotamia but contracted typhoid in Baghdad (present-day Iraq) and passed away aged 30. Just two days before his death, Paddy had been gazetted for a Military Cross.

Paddy Roche competing (Getty Images)