Robert Owen Rowlands was born in the first quarter of 1885 in Buckley, Flintshire. He was one of 9 children born to Joseph & Margaret Rowlands, only 6 of whom were still alive by the 1911 Census.
In 1891, as seen in the Census of that year, Roberts was living with his parents and 4 brothers at 1, Stanley Road, Buckley, Flintshire. The whole family spoke only Welsh, and Robert’s father Joseph was a coal miner.
By 1901, the family had moved to an address in Cymau, simply put on the Census as ‘Barracks’. This seems to be on a lane that connects Cymau with Ffrwd. There are a few properties adjacent with the same address, and these are situated between Plas Maen Cottage and Ffrwd Cottages. Robert, now age 16 is here with his parents, four brothers and a sister. His father is still a coal miner – a hewer, and his 3 older brothers all have jobs; A timber cutter, a farm boy and one works in a blacksmith’s shop. It’s Robert’s occupation that is a slight enigma. His occupation reads as ‘Sailor, Seas’. This requires more research as so far I can find no record of this. The family are also identified as now speaking both English & Welsh.
At 26 years old in 1911, Robert was single and still living at home with his parents and two of his brothers. His father Joseph is still a miner, but is now a timberer, and Robert, along with his two brothers, are also in the pit. He and one of his brothers are both hewers, with the other being a waggoner. They are still living in the same immediate area as in the previous Census, but in this year their address is given as ‘Plas Maen Cottages, Cefn-y-Bedd.
It is unclear when Robert joined the Army, but on Ancestry.co.uk and Findmypast.co.uk, he is said to have enlisted in Caergwrle, however, at present I am unable to find an image of any of his documentation. The possibility is that his documents were one of the many destroyed during WW2.
Again, because of the lack of current documentation it is unclear when Robert was promoted to Acting Sergeant – his rank when killed aged 31.
Robert was awarded the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the ’15 Star. From his medal record card, we can also see that he entered into the theatre of war on 27th September 1915. This ties in perfectly with the records of the movement of his Battalion at this time:
“10th (Service) Battalion
16.09.1914 Formed at Wrexham as part of the Third New Army (K3) then moved to Codford St. Mary, Salisbury Plain to join the 76th Brigade of the 25th Division and then moved to Bournemouth.
29.04.1915 Moved to Romsey and the Barrosa Barracks, Aldershot.
27.09.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne.
15.10.1915 Transferred to the 76th Brigade of 3rd Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914, First Battle of Ypres.
Winter Operations 1914-15, The First Attack on Bellewaarde, The Actions of Hooge, The Second Attack on Bellewaarde.
The Actions of the Bluff and St Eloi Craters, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of the Ancre.”
Robert is commemorated at Ypres (Menin Gate), Panel 22, Stone A.