A Face for Corporal Roberts

Posted by:

One of the items that Gary McMaster most wanted was a photograph of Corporal Harold Roberts. The CGS research team determined that Roberts graduated from Wilmerding High School in 1913. Unfortunately, no book for that year could be located in the archives of Lick-Wilmerding High School, the San Francisco Historical Society or the San Francisco Public Library. The June 1911 Commencement Issue of the school newspaper, Wilmerding Life, carried an informal group photograph of the class of 1913, but entirely without names.

Newspaper research yielded several articles about Roberts and his family, including marriage notices, obituaries and reports about his heroic death and honors. A few included photographs but most were small and without significant detail. The photo archives of the San Francisco Public Library’s History Center had a folder on Roberts which contained this image from the San Francisco Call Newspaper. There was no notation to indicate its source or whether it was ever printed.

One article covered the medal presentation of the French Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) made to Harold’s father, John Roberts, on the steps of the San Francisco City Hall in 1919. The item contained a small oval photo insert of Harold Roberts which McMaster is using to create a more accurate depiction than the painting that now hangs in the Camp exhibit. Curator McMaster made a blurred sepia drawing of the image and added the correct World War I issue helmet and uniform to create this likeness.

He has commissioned a Sacramento artist to paint a new portrait to hang in the base museum. It is scheduled to be finished and delivered to Camp Roberts this coming Saturday for a preview during the Camp Roberts Open House. McMaster has promised to send us a photograph of the finished work when it is hanging in the Museum.

Read the entire series:

  • Part 1 — Searching for Harold Roberts
  • Part 2 — Roberts: What We Found
  • Part 3 — Roberts’ Battlefield Letter
  • Part 5 — A Hero’s Final Resting Place