Samuel, Clarence and Francis were three of eleven children born in the Inverell district to their parents Josiah and Lydia. The family lived on their farm at Cherry Tree Hill north of Inverell.
Francis, the first of the boys to enlist, joined up at Inverell in October 1915 when he was twenty one years old. He became a member of the 18th Battalion, 8th Reinforcement which left Australia on HMAT A60 Aeneas in December 1915. After three months in Egypt his Battalion was sent to France at the end of March 1916. Francis became ill in September, requiring his transfer to hospital in England. Due to illness he did not rejoin his Battalion in France until November 1917. The following year he was again transferred to hospital in England after being wounded in action. He was returned to Australia in November 1918 and discharged the following April.
Samuel enlisted at Inverell in December 1915. At this time he was a twenty six year old Farmer and had served two years with the 6th Light Horse. His younger brother Clarence, who had spent a short time with the Light Horse, enlisted in early January 1916. Both men joined the First Contingent of The Kurrajongs who left Inverell together on 12 January 1916 for the Narrabri and Armidale camps.
Samuel became a member of the 33rd Battalion, D Company which trained at Armidale and Rutherford prior to sailing from Australia on HMAT A74 Marathon in May. After arriving in England further training was undertaken at Salisbury Plain. Samuel was transferred to the 3rd Battalion in September and sent to France with this unit. After only a few weeks he became ill and was returned to hospital in England. The following year Samuel was transferred to the 18th Battalion and again served on the Western Front where he was gassed in May 1918. He was invalided to hospital in England for treatment of mustard gas poisoning. He returned to Australia in January 1919 and was discharged medically unfit three months later.
By February 1920 Samuel had been admitted to the Prince of Wales Military Hospital in Sydney with a severe skin condition and spent nearly four years in a warm oil bath. He died in hospital in 1924 and his body was returned to Inverell for burial.
Clarence was rejected at Armidale camp in March 1916 due to illness. Determined to serve his country, he re-enlisted in Sydney in July and was appointed to the 2nd Battalion, C Company at Cootamundra before being transferred to the 17th Battalion, 11 Reinforcements. With this Battalion he sailed for England on HMAT A11 Ascanius in October 1916. He went to France in April 1917 and after spraining his ankle in December was sent back to England. Clarence then transferred to the Machine Gun Corps in April 1918 before being returned to Australia and medically discharged in November.
The Rolfe brothers are remembered at Inverell where their names are recorded on the Inverell and Oakwood Honor Rolls.