Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.

W. J. Rowley

William John Rowley was born at Chelmarsh in 1878 and was baptised at the Parish Church on 23rd June. He was the son of William, a farm labourer, and his wife, Letitia.

William John moved to Shifnal and, later, Sheriffhales where he became a farm waggoner. He married Lucy Evans in 1899. By 1911 they had three children: Arthur, 11; Ernest, 9 and Hilda, 7.

William joined the Army early in the war, serving with the 5th Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry. He went to France on 4th August, 1915 and was killed in action on 25th September, 1915. He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

The Regimental History records:

. . . on the night 23rd/24th of September [1915] the battalion in fighting order, strength 17 officers, 780 other ranks, moved up to Ypres by train. The trenches in Railway Wood were occupied by the battalion in preparation for the attack which was to be made on the following day with the object of holding back German troops from the Battle of Loos.
At 3.50 a.m. on the 24th September our guns bombarded the enemy trenches till 4.20 a.m. Retaliation immediately followed and a bombardment of our trenches was maintained throughout the day, resulting in Captain S. G. Beaumont being killed and 8 other ranks wounded. At 3.50 a.m. on 25th our artillery again intensely bombarded the enemy trenches and at 4.5 a.m. the battalion was in position for the assault. A and D companies and half B Company with two machine guns and signallers were in company column in front of our own trenches, and half B and C Companies in support in the trenches.
At 4.20 a.m. the assault took place and, as far as the battalion was concerned, was successful in that it carried out its allotted task and reached the second line of enemy trenches. The battalions on the right and left, however, were not able to reach their objectives, and consequently, when the Germans brought up fresh troops for the counter-attack, the position of the 5th K.S.L.I, became untenable, and there was nothing to do but to retire to the original line—or what was left of it—as the trenches had been filled in almost everywhere by the German shell fire. This retirement was effected about 8.15 a.m., the losses being very heavy, so much so that later in the day it was ncccssary to reinforce the remnants of the battalion by two platoons of the 6th Somerset L.I. The Germans bombarded the trenches heavily up till 1 p.m., and again from 9 p.m. till midnight. Just before midnight the battalion was relieved by the 6th D.C.L.I. and returned to billets near Poperinghe.
The casualties during the attack were 7 officers killedand 5 wounded, 41 other ranks killed, 280 wounded, 100 missing, 7 wounded and missing. [Wood pp. 135-6]

Private William Rowley, 17487, KSLI, was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1915 Star.

This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.