Lieutenant Rice Edwin Rowlands
Royal Army Service Corps
Plas Newydd, Llangoed
Rice Edwin Rowlands was born in 1880; his birth registered in Bangor. He was the youngest of 9 children to John and Ellen Rowlands. The address on his headstone is ‘Plas Newydd’ which is a fine old farmhouse in Llangoed, built by a member of the Bulkeley family and later owned by the Church. Local people still remember members of the Rowlands family; Willie, Edwin and Elin living there until about 1980. It remains a private house.
The Census of 1881 confirms this information: living at Plas Newydd in Llangoed were John Rowlands, age 43 and a Farmer of 80 acres employing 3 men; his wife, Ellin was the same age and had been born in Llangoed (John was born in Penmon). All their children were born in Llangoed: John age 17, Mary 15, Eliza 13, Ellen 10, William 9, Hugh 7, Humphrey 4, Owen 2 and Rice 10 months. Four Servants were listed; 3 Agricultural Labourers and 1 Domestic Servant.
By 1891, still at Plas Newydd in Llangoed; Ellen Rowlands was a widow and a Farmer, age 53; Mary was 25, Elsie 22, William 19 and a Farmer’s Son. All the younger boys were Scholars; Humphrey 14, Owen 12 and Rice age 10. There were 2 Agricultural Labourers and 1 ‘General Servant (Domestic)’.
In 1901 at Plas Newydd Ellen Rowlands was still a Farmer, now age 64; her daughter ‘E. A. Rowlands’, age 33 was a Hospital Nurse; ‘W. Rowlands’ age 30 was a Farmer; Ellen age 29 had no occupation; Hugh, now 26, was listed as a Farmer.
By 1911 William Rowlands was the head of the household, now age 39, married and a farmer; his wife Mary was 25 years old (also from Llangoed). William’s sister, Elizabeth A. Rowlands, age 42 lived with them – she was a District Nurse. Another sister, Ellen M. Rowlands also lived in the house, now age 40. There were 3 servants, one ‘General’ one ‘Cow Man’ and a ‘Horseman on Farm’.
Rice was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant during March 1915 into the Army Service Corps, having had no previous military service. He was recorded as being single and living at Tros Gors, Llangoed; he was of independent means.
He started his military service in Portmadoc then Denbigh and by July 1915 was in Blackheath. In January 1916 he was promoted to Lieutenant and was based in Woolwich ‘in charge of drafts being prepared for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force’. He himself should have gone out with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force but the order was cancelled in April; instead he was sent to Seaford that month as Requisitioning Officer. By July 1916 he was sent with the Expeditionary Force France, as Transport Officer, Supplies Purchasing Branch.
He is recorded as having 7 days leave in May 1919 and rejoined the service at the end of his leave. He was promoted to Acting Captain from June 1919. Again he was granted leave in December 1919 at which point he was in Algeria, Tunis district. He ‘Proceeded Home for demobilization 3rd June 1920’ and was finally demobbed on 17th June 1920.
At that time his next of kin were his sister, Miss E A Rowlands of Llysun, Llangoed and his brother Mr Humphrey Rowlands of Fronhal Dyserth, Flints.
There is further correspondence in the War Office archives where his brother, H Rowlands of Trosgorse, near Beaumaris writes on behalf of his sister, in late 1924; after the death of Rice Rowlands. It seems that Rice supported his sister financially and they ask for his estate to be free of Death Duties. This dispensation had been introduced to reduce hardship after the war. The War Office refused the request, stating that his death was more than 3 years since he had left the Army.
Rice Rowlands had died on 7th September 1924, at Scio House, Roehampton ‘as a result of war service’. This is reflected on his headstone inscription in Penmon Churchyard: ‘Also Rice E. Rowlands of Plas Newydd . . . who died on the 7th Sep, 1924 as a result of service as an officer in H. M. Army from 1915 to 1919 aged 44 years’. Scio House was a hospital for military officers.
The report of his death in the North Wales Chronicle of September 12th reads: ‘Llangoed – The death of Mr Price Edwin Rowlands at Scio House, Roehampton, took place on Sunday, in his 44th year, the son of the late Mr and Mrs Rowlands, Plasnewydd, Llangoed. The internment was at Penmon Churchyard on Wednesday, the vicars of Penmon and Llangoed (the Revs. D. Evans and A. H. Grey-Edwards) officiating. Mr Rowlands was of a genial disposition and was well liked. After being in business in Liverpool and London he spent ten years in Paris. In the late war he acted as an officer in France, Algeria and Tunisia. When demobilized he rejoined his old business firm at Cairo until his health failed.’
The entry in the personal column of Births, Marriages and Deaths reports his name correctly: ‘Deaths – Rowlands – September 7th, at London, Rice E. Rowlands, late of Liverpool and Llangoed. Interred at Penmon Church, on Wednesday.’
Rice Rowlands is buried with a grand marble headstone, in the same grave as his eldest brother, Dr John Rowlands of Bodorgan. The grave inscription says ‘In loving memory of Dr. John W. Rowlands of Bodorgan who died August 26th 1892 aged 28 years. Also Rice E. Rowlands of Plas Newydd, brother of the above, who died on the 7th Sep, 1924 as a result of service as an officer in H. M. Army from 1915 to 1919 aged 44 years.’
Because his death is some years after the war, he is not commemorated on any War Memorial, nor is he listed as a war casualty by Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Their cut-off date for someone to be classified as a casualty was midnight, 31st August 1921.
From the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum in Caernarfon: ‘He served with the Royal Army Service Corps (later popularised as ‘Dad’s Army’). He had the rank of Lieutenant in 1918. Unfortunately another man whose death through service goes unrecognised by CWGC because he died after the 1921 cut off’.
His service is recorded along with all other local men, in the Village Hall, Llangoed: Gosodwyd y Gof Femrwn - Hwn i fynu gan Blwyfoliar(?) - Llangoed, Penmon, Llaniestyn a Llanfihangel - Gydnabod gwasanaeth teyrngarol y Molwyd a’r Morwyr isod yn y - Rhyfel Mawr Europeaidd 1914 – 19
Army / Lieut. Rice Rowlands
Bridget Geoghegan 2016