The following is an extract that appeared in the Flintshire Observer on 16th December 1915, no spellings have been altered from the original article.
WHITFORD BOY AS A BOMBER, HERO OF THREE GLORIOUS FIGHTS
Private J Rowlands, a Whitford from Geli, comes first in several ways – No 5301, No 1 Platoon, ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, but is modest.
He wrote to the Vicar of Whitford the other day acknowledging a letter he had received from the Rev Ellis Davies. He concluded his letter – ‘I have no news in particular.’ From the body of the letter we ‘ as you presume, it is very dangerous work bomb throwing. We are always in front of the firing line, watching an opportunity of dropping them a few souvenirs in the shape on bombs, which piny havoc amongst them also when we make a charge the bomb throwers are always leading. Still, I have taken part in three great battles – Ncuve Chappellc, Festubert, and that of Loos without receiving a scratch, whilst others are knocked down before they have been in the trenches ten minute. It seems that the Hand of Providence is upon me. Only the other night I and another bomb thrower (a Flintshire man – Joe Williams of Connah’s Quay) were going towards the firing line when a shell burst within twenty years without touching either of us’ – and he say no news in particular.
Joseph Rowland was born circa 1870, the son of Jacob and Caroline Rowland, who on the 1871 census were living as Lodgers at 21, The Squares, Whitford. Jacob, 27, a Collier, Caroline,25, and their 2 children, Hugh W., 2 and Joseph 15 months were in the household of Abel Williams, his wife Harriet and their 3 children.
By 1881 the family had move into a house in Mostyn Squares, Jacob, 39 was a Labourer in the Iron Works, Caroline,35, Hugh William, 12, Joseph, 9, John Thos. 6, Edward 4, and their first daughter,Ellin, 8 months had all been born in Whitford.
The 1891 census shows the family still in Mostyn Squares, Joseph now 50 was a General Labourer, Caroline was 44. All the family on this census had been born in Mostyn, Flintshire. Hugh W., 22 and Joseph, 20 were General Labourers, John, 20 was a Farm labourer, while Edward, 13 and daughter Mary H., 7 were both scholars.
I believe by 1895 Joseph had met and married Annie Elizabeth Cawley, who had been born in Tarvin, Cheshire and they married in a Civil Ceremony in Chester. (Cheshire West ROC/35/19).
Joseph took his bride home to Mostyn Square where they are found on the 1901 census. Head of the household was Joseph, 30 a Farm Labourer, his wife Annie Elizabeth, 30 had given birth to 2 children, James Edward, 5 and baby Jacob, age 3, both born in Whitford.
1911 sees the family enlarged and living at 24, Squares, Glan y don, Mostyn, Holywell which had 3 rooms and the family were all bilingual. Joseph, 40 now a Colliery Labourer below ground and Annie Elizabeth, 40, had been married 15 years and 7 children had been born, but sadly 2 had died. Eldest child was Jacob, 13, who had been born at Mostyn as were the other children, James Edward, 9, Joseph Stanley, 7, Harold, 5 and Reginald 3.
Joseph must have enlisted at the start of the war as his Flintshire WW1 Index Card (Whitford F 7) which gave his address as Y Gelli, Lloc, Whitford, gives his Period of Service as 4 years and the card was signed by John T. Rowland, who I believe, is possibly the brother of Joseph’s father Jacob. I also believe that the reason that he filled in and signed the card is that Joseph’s wife Annie Elizabeth may have died in 1915, as I found a death certificate for a Anne Elizabeth at Whitford (Flintshire (Mold) WHIT/24/58), but the death certificate would have to be purchased to confirm or deny.
This would also explain why a John T. Rowland was to sign, along with the Vicar of Whitford, Ellis Davies, 2 other Flintshire WW1 Index cards for a Thos. Edw. Rowland, Gelli, Bach, Lloc (Whitford L54) and a John Wm. Rowland, (Whitford L 55) of the same address. Both these soldiers survived, but I cannot quite place how they are connected to Joseph and John T. Rowland except brothers Edward (could he be Thos. Edw.?) and Hugh William (could he be John Wm.?).
It could also explain a little why on the Joseph Rowlands in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 the Sole Legatee was his father John* (sic) who received £3 19s 1d on the 26th June 1917 and his War Gratuity of £11 10s on the 24th October 1919. There were a few recharges to the Regimental Paymaster of 3/7d on the 14th June 1917 and 3/8d on the 11th December 1917 also a claim of 7/2d on the 6th October 1917.
*Was this a clerical error or misinformation as Joseph’s wife, Annie Elizabeth had died in 1915, if I am right, and perhaps John T. ROWLAND had helped her while Joseph was away?
Joseph Rowlands in the UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 tells us that he was born in Whitford, Flintshire and enlisted in Holywell.
Joseph Rowlands in the British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 tells us that his first Theatre of War was France and he entered it on the 17th February 1915 and was killed in Action on the 3rd March 1917.
Any help would be gratefully received.