Frederick Rowson, Private 44200, 74th Coy Labour Corps, formerly 64370, The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 9th Inf. Labour Coy
Died of pneumonia 30th December 1917 in hospital in Belgium, aged 42
Frederick Rowson was baptised on 31st March 1875 at St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield, the son of Ann and John Rowson, a printer/compositor of Macclesfield. In 1881, seven year old Frederick was living at 8 Little St, Macclesfield with his parents, older sisters Sarah Ellen (13) and Alice Ann (9), and adopted sister Minnie Jones (18). Frederick’s father died in 1888, and by 1891 the 16-year-old, employed as a cattle drover, was living at 23 Allen Street, Macclesfield with his widowed mother and his sister Alice.
On 9th April 1894 Frederick married Bertha Potts at St Paul’s Church, Macclesfield. Both were aged nineteen; Frederick stated that he lived at 19 Cuckstoolpit Hill and Bertha’s home was at 3 Allen Street, a few doors away from where Frederick previously lived. By 1901 the couple were living at 1 Daisy Bank and had three sons: Harold (6), John Fred (4) and William (1). Ten years later, in 1911, the family had moved to 22 Mills Croft and had another five children: Eva (9), Lily (7), Doris (4), Annie (3) and baby Stanley (6 months). Another son, George, was born in 1915, making nine children in all.
Frederick was still employed as a cattle drover in 1911, but he later found employment as a porter at Manchester’s London Road Station.
The family later moved to 5 Turnock Street, Macclesfield.
Frederick enlisted, or was conscripted, into the King’s Liverpool Regiment with service number 64370 on 5th August 1916. He subsequently transferred to the Labour Corps, with service number 44200, and was sent to France in the spring of 1917. The Labour Corps was formed in January 1917, manned by officers and other ranks who had been medically rated below the “A1” condition needed for front line service. The Labour Corps carried out such tasks as building and maintaining the huge network of roads, railways, canals, buildings, camps, stores, dumps, telegraph and telephone systems, etc, needed to run an efficient army, and move supplies to where they were required.
Sadly, after being sent to join the Army in 1916 Frederick was not given any leave and his wife never saw him again. In December 1917, whilst serving somewhere near the border between France and Belgium, Frederick became ill with pneumonia, and three weeks later on 30th December 1917 he died in a hospital north-west of Poperinge, Belgium, at the age of 42.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 25th January 1918:
LOCAL SOLDIER’S DEATHMrs Rowson, 5 Turnock Street, Macclesfield, has received news that her husband, Pte Frederick Rowson, Labour Company, died of pneumonia in hospital in France on December 30th. Pte Rowson had been ill for about three weeks.The late Pte Rowson was forty-two years of age and in civil life was employed as a porter at London Road Station, Manchester. Before going to Manchester he was a cattle drover in Macclesfield and worked principally for Mr Kirk. Pte Rowson enlisted on August 5th 1916 and was sent out to France nine months ago. He was drafted out without coming home on leave and Mrs Rowson had never seen her husband since the day on which he left to join the Army.Mrs Rowson has nine children and three sons are serving with the colours. One, Pte Harold Rowson, Ches Regt is now in hospital in England, having been gassed whilst fighting in France. He is twenty-three years of age and was educated at St Peter’s day school along with his soldier brothers. The second brother, Pte John Fred Rowson, Ches. Regt., is serving in Egypt, where he has been for the last two years. He is 21 years old and in civil life was in the employ of the British Automobile Traction Company Ltd, King Edward Street, where his brother, Harold, was also employed. The third brother, Pte William Rowson, is stationed at Filey, Yorkshire, with the Border Regt. He enlisted at the early age of sixteen and saw six months service in France with the Rifle Brigade. He was sent back to England on account of his age. He is now only eighteen.
Private Frederick Rowson is buried in grave Ref. XIV. H. 17 at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. His wife asked for a cross and the words “To live and love and then to part, is the greatest sorrow of the human heart” to be added to his headstone. A photograph of the headstone may be seen on The War Graves Photographic Project website.
Father of Harold Rowson, who joined the 7th Cheshire Regiment in 1912, serving in Gallipoli and France, later being transferred to the Worcestershire Regt, and received an injury to his left shoulder in September 1917, was mildly affected by gas in December 1917, and received a gunshot wound in September 1918; John Fred Rowson, who served with the Cheshire Regiment in Egypt; and William Rowson, who enlisted in June 1915 when only sixteen years of age and served as Rifleman 12845 with the Rifle Brigade in France for six months before being sent back to England in May 1916 when his true age was discovered. His discharge document stated that he was “a sober and hard-working lad who was doing well in the army.” William then served with the Border Regiment at Filey, England.
All three of Frederick’s sons survived the war.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield
Cheshire Parish Marriage Registers: St Paul’s Church, Macclesfield
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 25th January 1918, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)