1914 - 2023

The Marston Lads

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William Rowe

Killed in Action
17th August 1917

Aged 18

The 6th Siege Battery
Royal Garrison Artillery

Gibsons Fold


In Marston cemetery William was remembered by his family with a dedication on a family memorial.

William Rowe was born in 1898 and the oldest son of Mark and Annie Rowe.

In 1901, the family were living in Lancashire. In 1901, William, who was aged 3 months, had two older sisters, Annie aged 9 years, and Harriot aged 5. Both of these sisters and their mother were born in Northwich, yet the father Mark was born and living in Lancashire, young William Rowe also being born in Lancashire. It's safe to presume Annie's first husband had died, and certainly, in the 1911 census, the marriage is given as 16 years, which confirms both Annie and Harriot were stepsisters to William. The 1911 census also states 'total children born 6', and 'still living 4'. Only three children were living at Marston in 1911 and all were boys, therefore at least one of his two stepsisters had died and within the previous 10 years.

Mark Rowe was working as a Rock Miner at the nearby mines at Marston. Little doubt the connection that his wife Annie had with the town and with Mark Rowe working as a rock miner in Birkenhead in 1901, is what brought the family to Marston. They were living at 'Gibsons Fold Marston' which research suggests was at the back of Ollershaw Lane, which could mean anywhere. If you can help with this location please get in touch.

After conscription was introduced in January 1916, 18-year-olds were required by law to join the army. If you deserted the army, you were arrested and either given a spell in prison, some were given hard labour – or sentenced to death by firing squad.

Due to Williams enlistment records missing, it's impossible to say exactly when he joined the war effort. But due to his age, the very earliest would be January 1916.

William joined the 2nd Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. Each siege battery was equipped with four 6-inch Howitzers which fired a 100-pound (weight) shell to a maximum range of 6,000 yards. These units had well trained and drilled soldiers and were a tight-knit group of a well-oiled machine.
We know William is buried at Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steenwerck in France and was killed the 17th August 1917, the day after the Battle of Hill 70 had started. Certainly, the location of both suggests it was this battle where William lost his life together with a number of his comrades from the same Siege Battery. Steenwerck is just 26 miles from Hill 70.

The Battle of Hill 70. The battle was costly for both sides and many casualties suffered from extensive use of poison gas, including the new German Yellow Cross shell containing the blistering agent sulphur mustard (mustard gas).
Note: Throughout the First World War you will see a number of hills being given a number; Hill 60, Hill 62, Hill 70 and so on. The number is relative to how many metres above sea level the hill was. This information aided the underground war which mined underneath German-held hills for later detonation, something the British were particularly good at.
William Rowe is buried at Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steenwerck in France.
Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steenwerck, France.
Tony Hayes