This soldier’s story has been difficult to track.
There is an index card for Thomas Rowlands in The Flintshire Roll of Honour at The County Record office in Hawarden. (Card Saltney Ferry F 30). The address given is 15, Victoria Road, Saltney,. It says his regimental number was Private 24443 1/5th P.O.W. Coy. Deceased September 1918. The card was not signed or dated. Someone filled in this card for Thomas. The death date of September 1918 proved to be incorrect when we examined his Army Discharge papers.
There is a medal index card accessible on www.ancestry.com for a soldier named Thomas Rowlands which states that he was originally Private 2443 of the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry. He was later transferred to the Labour Corps with the regimental number 612262. He was awarded the Victory and The British War medals.
So Thomas Rowlands who once lived at 15 Victoria Road Saltney was Private 2443 AND became Private 612262.
Thomas Rowlands’s Discharge Papers from the army still exist and are accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk. They are almost entirely concerned with medical matters, however we can glean some of his story from them. What follows is an attempt to summarise the records.
A Medical History Form tells us that he had been born in Manchester about 1895. He enlisted in Frodsham on the 4th May 1915. His occupation was a Labourer. (On another form it said he was a Farm Labourer and on another, a ‘Carter’). He was 20 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighed 121lbs and had a chest measurement of 35 inches with an expansion range of 3 inches. His physical development and vision were good/normal. His medical category when he joined was A1. His next of kin was his mother who lived at 13 Maelor street, Rock Ferry, Cheshire. He was a Roman Catholic. His own permanent address on one paper said that he lived at 9 Tollelmache (?) Terrace, Hoole Lane, Chester.
He was assigned to various regiments throughout the war. they were The Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry4252, RFA (Royal Field Artillery) 4252, Labour Corps 612262, then 115 POW Coy
Through January, March and April 1916 he spent two long periods in hospital. There seems to have been a problem with an undescended testicle. Some (at least) of this hospital treatment was in the Southern General Hospital Portsmouth. Whatever the problem the treatment and recovery were lengthy.
In August 1916 he embarked for France. He joined his Battalion in September 1916. He was listed on Casualty records in June and July with groin problems and in August he was in hospital in Rouen. From there he was sent to England where he spent a month in Regents Park War Hospital Southampton where they seemed to have treated him for an abscess which they said had arisen from an original barbed wire injury.
Following this in September 1917 he was sent to Balyvonaire Military Camp in Cork which is where some soldiers went to convalesce though it was a barracks and not a hospital camp.
In April 1918 he was in France. He was recorded at Etaples and Rouen. Throughout March and April 1918 he presented problems with deafness.
After the war he was discharged on 1st May 1919. He had made an application to have his discharge be classified as including a disablement that had been aggravated by or attributed to his service in the war. He claimed that his deafness had been caused by concussion of explosion. He was medically examined at Prees Heath Military Hospital where his ears were syringed and found to be much improved. They could find no signs of perforation and on the 23rd September 1919, his application was rejected. He was demobilized to ‘Class Z’
Thomas Rowlands is named on The Saltney Ferry Memorial but it has not so far proved possible to determine, when, where or why he died. There are some possibilities but these are speculation. Any help with this story would be appreciated. (He certainly did not die in 1918 as stated on the Flintshire card.).
I have a more detailed transcript of his Discharge papers. Please make contact through the website if you would like more detail.
Researched and compiled by Mavis Williams