James was born in Holt in Denbighshire in 1893. His parents were John and Sarah Rowlands. They had married in West Bromwich in 1887 and he was descibed as a ‘fellmonger’ on the wedding certificate. (This is someone who dealt with the skinning and tanning of animal hides). Their first son John (junior) was born in Cheshire in 1887. In 1914 on his eldest daughter’s wedding certificate he was described as a ‘hawker’.Clearly this family traveled a lot until they eventually seemed to settle in 7 Milford street Mold.
The eldest child John (junior) lived with his grandparents in West Bromwich before joining the army. He too was killed in WW1 and he and James are listed together on the Mold memorial. John Rowlands (junior) has his own page on this website.
James had one older sister, Sarah (junior) who had been born in 1890. Sarah married Albert Harry Anderson in Worksop in 1914. Albert was also killed in WW1 and he is the first listed soldier on the Mold memorial. Albert Anderson has his own page on this website. Three years after Albert’s death, widow Sarah remarried William John Berriman and they lived in Sheffield. There is one surviving letter that James wrote to Sarah and which we will post further down this page.
The complete list (as far we know) of all the children born to John and Sarah Rowlands was detailed on the 1911 census. This tells us that Sarah Rowlands had given birth to 11 children and that 9 had survived. The census form includes the names of 11 children – as they added the two dead children. The places of birth demonstrate that this was indeed a travelling family. In 1911 the family lived at 3 Court, Milford Street, Mold and the father John Rowlands was a 56 year old labourer.
John born 1887 Sandbach
William born 1889 Sandbach( Died)
Sarah born 1890 Northwich
James born 1893 Holt
Margaret b 1895 Holt
Elizabeth born 1897 Oswestry
Eliza born 1899 West Bromwich
Charles born 1904 Bridgenorth
David born 1906 Mold
Evan born 1908 Mold
George born West Bromwich Died
James was a 22 year old unmarried farm labourer when he decided to enlist in the army. He signed up in Mold in March 1915. (His big brother had been killed ten months beforehand). By February 1916 he was part of the Expeditionary Force in the Middle East. He wrote the following letter from Egypt to his sister Sarah in May of that year.
May 31.5.16 2928 Pte J Rowlands
B Coy 1/5 R W Fus
158 Infantry Brigade
Med Exp Force
Once again I am taking the pleasure of writing to you these few lines in answer to your kind and welcome letter which I received on the 28th May and was glad to know that you received my letter and photo which I sent to you quite safe. Well I am sister I am glad to tell you that this leaves me in the very best of health at the present time when writing. Hoping this will find you and your friends one and all the same. Well you say it took my letter six weeks to reach you I dare say it would seem a long time to wait but it is better late than never as it took your letter a month to reach me as you know it is such a long way to travel and they get delayed on the way sometimes they will go in a fortnight and sometimes it will take them a couple of months. Well dear sister you say our Lizzy is in a place in Sheffield and you say she forgets she has a sister so near to her. You must take no notice of her as she won’t be there long. Well you say you received my photo all right and it is a good one. It wasn’t bad anyway. Well dear sister I am sorry I haven’t much news totell you so I will close now with all the best of love till we meet again. I remain yours truely brother.
On 8th Mar, 5 RWF paraded and moved from their bivouac area to assemble for an attack the following day on Tell’Asur.
Once again a thick mist descended which impeded the advance considerably and altered the plan of attack. Despite the the mist and heavy enemy machine gun and rifle fire, the advance continued and Cairn Hill was captured at dawn. By 0830, the Turks were seen to retire form Tel Asur. The situation remained unchanged until1030 when the enemy counter attacked but were driven off.
On 10 Mar the battalion assembled near Wadi Kola but the following day found it clear and 5 RWF was able to consolidate its position on the high ground.
Most of this research was undertaken and documented by Mrs C Senior – she is the grandaughter of Sarah who received the letter from Egypt. Mr and Mrs Senior are to be congratulated on their meticulous research and thanked very much for so generously sharing it with us for this website. Mr and Mrs Senior have published a booklet detailing their family history quest. Follow this link to the chapter headed “Lost but Found” 109_rowlands_01 and read about the detective work that led them to John and James Rowlands. I know that they are very keen to discover any living relatives in Mold. If anyone reading this thinks they are descended from this family who lost three young men to the cruel ‘Great’ war, then please let us know via our contacts page and we will pass on details to Mr and Mrs Senior
The photograph of James, the Death Penny , the medals and the Hat Badge have been shared by Andrew Gray. He tells us they were in his Father’s collection. Many thanks Andrew.