Private 13259 Levi Rowley

Killed in Action on Saturday, 25th September 1915, age 19.
Commemorated on Panel 60 to 64 of Loos Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

10th Bn., Gloucestershire Regiment. 1st Brigade of 1st Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Smethwick, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 9th August 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1768222/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Levi Rowley registered September quarter 1896 in Dudley.

1901 Census
2 Lower Chapel Street, Rowley Regis, Staffs.
Benjamin Rowley (43, Brickworks Labourer, born Rowley Regis), his wife Mary Ann (40, born Rowley Regis), and their 7 children: Benjamin (18, Brickworks Labourer, born Rowley Regis), Arthur (13, born Rowley Regis), John (9, born Rowley Regis), Alfred (7, born Rowley Regis), Levi (4, born Rowley Regis), Bert (3, born Rowley Regis), and Florrie (11 months, born Rowley Regis).

1911 Census
49 Dibble Road, Smethwick, Staffs.
Benjamin Rowley (54, Labourer, born Tividale, Tipton), his wife Mary Ann (53, born Tividale, Tipton), and their 8 children: Benjamin (29, Labourer, born Tividale, Tipton), Arthur (24, Widower, Labourer, born Tividale, Tipton), John (20, Labourer, born Tividale, Tipton), Alfred (17, Labourer, born Tividale, Tipton), Levi (15, Labourer, born Tividale, Tipton), Bert (14, born Tividale, Tipton), Florrie (11, born Tividale, Tipton) and Edith (9, born Tividale, Tipton).

Personal Data

'Soldiers Died in the Great War' shows Levi as born in Tipton, apart from this reference there is nothing to connect him to the town. The 1901 census shows the family living at Lower City Road which is beyond the boundary in the Rowley Regis part of Tividale.

After Levi's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £3/12/11d (3 pounds, 12 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his father, Benjamin, in December 1915. His War Gratuity was £3/10/0d (3 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to his father in August 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Levi had enlisted in approximately September 1914.

A Pension Card does exist in respect of Levi suggesting that a claim was made, but the amount of the pension is not recorded. It does show a change of claimant in 1934 when Mary Ann (Levi's mother) died, suggesting that a pension was still being paid.

Action resulting in his death

The 10th Gloucesters (10/Glos) and 8th Royal Berkshires (8/RBerks) were New Army battalions who landed in France in August 1915. They joined the 1st Brigade of the prestigious 1st Division, replacing two Guards battalions moving to the newly-formed Guards Division. On 25th September, these inexperienced New Army battalions were to lead the attack for 1st Division in the opening attack of the Battle of Loos.

The 1st Brigade was the first wave for 1st Division attacking from just in front of Vermelles eastwards towards Hulloch. The 10/Glos were located to the south of 8/RBerks who had their left flank on the Vermelles/Hulloch road (see the map). In front of the Gloucesters, in No-Man’s-Land, was the wood Bois Carré.

The attack began at 06.30am after an artillery bombardment and the release of gas. The wind was generally not favourable, and the gas affected the British troops as much as the Germans; the 10/Glos were not the worst affected of the British troops, but still had men out of action before the attack commenced.

The Germans had used Bois Carré to observe the British front-line, and they had dug forward of the wood and located several machine guns. The bombardment had not destroyed this feature, and the machine guns were to cause severe casualties to the 10/Glos.

Despite the unsuppressed wood and the gas, the 10/Glos overran both Bois Carré and the German front-line trench, their New Army comrades 8/RBerks were equally successful. This success came at enormous cost to the 2 battalions in what was their first action. To their right, the other 2 battalions of 1st Brigade (1st Loyal North Lancs and 2nd King’s Royal Rifle Corps) were not as successful, being held up by un-cut wire and machine-guns.

The 10/Glos came under fire from the German support trench where many of the German front-line troops had retreated. After a short pause to re-organise, 10/Glos attacked again over open ground, and the Germans were again forced to retreat to the east towards Hulluch.

By 08.00am, the 10/Glos had taken the German 3rd-line trench, Gun Trench, where they dug in; the attack towards Hulluch was continued by the 1st Camerons and 1st Black Watch. The remaining men of the 10/Glos formed a redoubt about 1200 yards from their start-point (at Point 89) and prepared this any German counter-attack, no such attack occurred and they held the redoubt until 27th September when they were relieved.

The 10/Glos had 489 casualties (killed, missing and wounded) of whom 153 men and 8 officers were killed on the 25th September, another 11 men died of wounds on the next 2 days. Levi, like the majority of the 10/Glos killed that day, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

Rowley Levi Loos 1st Div Map drawn with reference to 1915 Vol 2 Official History by Sam Eedle Design, many thanks to Sam for permission to use.

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