Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Remembering a Veteran: Kermit Roosevelt, British and U.S. Armies

Kermit Roosevelt (1889–1943), MC, was one of fours sons of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt who served in combat in the First World War.

British Officer in Mesopotamia
In 1909 Kermit, who shared TR’s passion for adventure, requested permission to join his father on his planned African safari. His father eventually consented to Kermit’s request, but only after challenging his son to demonstrate his appreciation of the opportunity by working all the harder in college after his return. Kermit honored this promise by completing Harvard’s course of study in less than three years. The pair set out again in 1913, this time in search of the source of the Amazon’s Rio da Dúvida (River of Doubt), later renamed Rio Roosevelt.   

American Officer in London

Impatient for American participation in the First World War, Roosevelt joined the British Army to fight in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). He was attached to the 14th Light Armoured Motor Battery of the Machine Gun Corps, and saw action at Tikrit and Baghdad. He was later awarded a Military Cross for his British service and wrote an admired memoir of this period, War in the Garden of Eden, in the interwar period. When the United States finally joined the war, Roosevelt was transferred to the AEF in Europe, relinquishing his British commission to serve as a U.S. field artillery officer. 

After the war he was a successful businessman and  writer despite fighting a lifelong battle with depression and alcoholism. His son, also named Kermit, was a notable operative in the early days of the CIA.

In the Second World War, he similarly served in both nation's armies before his suicide while posted in the Aleutians.

1 comment:

  1. How very sad.....the Aleutians might now have been the best WWII post for an older officer struggling with alcohol and depression.