Private Thomas Rowell

8th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry

Private Thomas Rowell was born in 1897 in Ashby Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. He was the son of Arthur and Ada Rowell and one of a family of five. The 1911 census records the family as living in Stanley Street Middlesbrough, where Thomas’s father, Arthur, was working as a labourer on the steelworks.

Thomas Rowell enlisted in Scunthorpe during December 1914 and was initially attached to the 8th Service Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. At the time of his enlistment, he was living in Laneham Street Scunthorpe. On the 1st September 1915 he was transferred to the 8th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry which came under the command of the 63rd Brigade in the 21st Division. The Battalion embarked at Southampton and arrived at Le Harve on the 10th September 1915.

The Division marched immediately to the front and went into battle on 25th/26th September 1915 at Loos where they engaged the enemy just two weeks after arriving in France. On October 2nd 1915 they went to Borre and then spent the next five months near Armentieres in trenches known as the “Mushroom”. Christmas Day 1915 was spent in the front line trenches.

On March 21st 1916 the Battalion moved from Armentieres to Strazelle, to the east of Hazebrouck. In April they moved, via Meaulte, near Albert on the Somme, to La Neuville where they underwent training for “the big push”. The 8th Battalion went into the attack at 7.25 am on July 1st 1916 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The following is an extract from the 8th Battalion War diary:

Directly the artillery barrage lifted our men advanced at quick time. They were hit by very heavy machine gun fire and although Officers and men were being hit and falling everywhere the advance continued steadily on, and was reported to by a Brigade Major who witnessed it “to have been magnificent”

Private Thomas Rowell was killed in action on the 1st July 1916 during the Battle of Albert

Remembered with Honour
Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.