John Henry Rowlands was born at the end of 1880 in Aldershot. His parents, Samuel Wilson Rowlands and Mary Ann Bright, married in the June qtr of 1880 in Winchester.
Unfortunately, the family cannot be traced in the 1881 census. A second son, William Charles, was born in 1886. Samuel died in 1889 at the age of only 32.
Two years later, Mary Ann married Edward Edwin Savage in Winchester in the March qtr of 1891. The 1891 census took place soon after and they can be found living at 2, Spring Gardens, Durngate. Edward is a painter’s labourer and Mary Ann a laundress; both are 34 and born in Winchester. A few houses along live Mary Ann’s parents, William and Eliza Bright, at 9, Spring Gardens. Their grandson, William Rowlands (5), is with them. John Henry, aged 10, is a patient at the County Hospital in Winchester. Soon after, in the June qtr of that year, Edith May Savage was born.
In the 1901 census, Edward and Mary Savage, both 44, are living at 20, Union Street, Winchester, with John Henry (20, bread baker), William Rowlands (15, draper’s porter), and their daughter Edith (9). Edward is a house painter and Mary a charwoman.
Unfortunately, Mary Ann died in 1909 at the age of 51.
In the 1911 census, John Henry is boarding with his step-father Edward Savage (54, house painter) at 2, Greyfriars Terrace, Lower Brook Street, Winchester. John is working as a house painter for a builder. His brother, William Charles (25, storeman for a brewery), is also living there. Edward Savage states that he is a widower and has had two children, only one of whom is still alive: Edith May, aged 19, who acts as his housekeeper.
On 16th November 1911, John Henry Rowlands married Annie Louisa Jessie Hoskins in Milton, Gillingham, Dorset. Annie was born 25th March 1887 so was 7 years younger than John. They lived at 5, Hyde Close, Winchester, and had two children: Cyril John (b 3rd September 1912), and Constance Annie Mary (b 7th April 1916), both born in Winchester.
In December 1915, at the age of 35, John enlisted with the Royal Berkshire Regiment as a private but a year later on 6th December 1916, was transferred to the 1st/5th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment with the service number 47962. He trained in the UK until July 1917 and was then sent to Egypt on 19th July 1917. Cairo was headquarters to the United Kingdom garrison in Egypt and, along with Alexandria, it became the main hospital centre for Gallipoli in 1915, dealing with the sick and wounded from operations in Egypt and Palestine. John was wounded once (details unknown).
From October-November 1917, John would have been involved in The Third Battle of Gaza, The Capture of Junction Station, and The Battle of Nabi Samweil. In 1918, the Devonshires took part in The Battle of Tell’Asur and The Battle of Berukin.
In March 1918, John Henry was promoted to Lance Corporal, but he became ill with appendicitis and died on 25th June 1918. He was 37 years old. John is buried at Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, situated about 5km south east of the centre of Cairo.
In August 1918, John’s widow Annie signed the Declaration ‘by the Widow of a Soldier in support of her to Pension for herself and for her children’. The army record gives more details:
Annie Louisa Jessie Rowlands – married 16 Nov 1911 at Milton
Gillingham Dorset to John Henry Rowlands, 47962 L Cpl 1.5 Devons,
who died at 31 General Hospital Cairo on 25 June 1918 aged 37 years.
Cyril John b 3 Sept 1912
Constance Annie Mary b 7 April 1916
Both of 5 Hyde Close, Winch
Date of birth of widow: 25 March 1887
Witnessed by magistrate on 3 August 1918
Recommended by Major Atkinson, Exeter, and a person at 26 Jewry St, Winchester
John’s younger brother, William Charles Rowlands, enlisted in the Hampshire Regiment in June 1917 as a Private. The Winchester War Register states that he served with the Worcester Regiment and Hampshire Cyclists. William served in France and was gassed in 1918, but he survived the war. His address in his army record is 21, North Walls.
John’s widow Annie remained in Winchester. She and her son Cyril (27) can be found in the 1939 Register still living at 5, Hyde Close. That same year her daughter Constance married Francis N Heapey in Winchester.