Joseph Oliver Rowlands was the son of Councillor William and Elizabeth Rowlands (nee Peters), Nant Mawr Farm. Oliver was born in 1888. William and Elizabeth had 9 children, 3 alive in 1911. Living at home in 1911 were William 32, Charles 26, Oliver 22, Bessie 19, and George Herbert 17. Oliver was employed as a grocer; his brother Charles was a school teacher.
Oliver’s card in the County of Flint Index records that he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. This was the Belgian Croix de Guerre as recorded in the supplement to the London Gazette 12 July 1918 as “14220 Private Oliver Rowlands, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (Buckley, Flint)”. The circumstances of the award are not known but the description of the medal on Wikipedia notes that The World War I Croix de Guerre was established by royal decree on 25 October 1915 as an award for bravery or other military virtue on the battlefield. It was only awarded to individuals. The Croix de Guerre was not only awarded for bravery but also for three years or more of service on the front line, or for good conduct on the battlefield. Oliver received the award in July 1918 three years after he embarked for France.
From his service record, Oliver joined LNLR at Liverpool 5 September 1914. He was 26 years, 154 days old and listed occupation as grocer. He served mostly with 10th (Service Battalion) LNRL and embarked for France from Folkestone 31 July 1915. He was posted to 2/4 LNRL 30 March 1918. He was appointed unpaid Lance Corporal 1 March 1915, and appointed paid Lance Corporal 28 June 1915. He reverted to Private at his own request 11 April 1916.
Oliver was wounded by a gas shell 11/12 May 1918 and died of wounds at Rouen 17 May 1918. He served in France for almost three years. His private property (photographs and one cloth wallet) was forwarded to Mr. William Rowlands, Nant Mawr Farm, 17 September 1918. William Rowlands confirmed receipt of his medals.
The Rowlands family is remembered on a grave at St. John’s Churchyard (A15 Row 2):
In Loving Memory of Esther daughter of William & Elizabeth ROWLANDS Died January 26th 1901 aged 18 years. “Be ye Ready”. Also to the cherished memory of JOSEPH OLIVER son of the above who died May 17th 1918 in a military hospital at Rouen from wounds received in action. ” A beautiful; memory left behind” Also the above William Rowlands Died Dec 22nd 1932 aged 84 years. Also the above Elizabeth Rowlands died August 13th 1934 aged 76 years. “Rest In Peace”.
Oliver’s death was recorded in the County Herald, May 31, 1918
Buckley Soldiers Death. We regret to hear that Private Oliver Rowlands, son of Councilor Rowlands, has died from shell wounds.