Remembrance – Harry Herbert Rowe


Today we remember Thurlby man Harry Herbert Rowe, killed on 3rd May 1917 serving in the 2/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Ridings regiment.

One of two local men serving in the regiment that were killed on the same day. The other man being Ernest Turner of Baston.

In local newspapers he was referred to as Hy Rowe, Harry, but military records refer to him as Herbert Rowe.

Herbert was born in the late summer of 1888 in Thurlby to Henry Rowe a farm labourer born in Thurlby in 1847 and his wife Emily Kemp born in Laxfield Suffolk in 1856.

  • Henry and Emily were married in 1887 and along with Herbert had three other children:
  • Harry Herbert Rowe born 1888, Thurlby
  • William Henry Rowe born 1890, Thurlby
  • Mabel Rowe born 1893, Thurlby.
  • A fourth child who they sadly lost before 1911.

In 1891 the family were living in Station Street Thurlby where they remained until at least 1911, when Herbert was a 22 year old Waggoner on a farm.

Herbert was a well known figure in the neighbourhood and was a good worker at the Wesleyan Chapel, Thurlby in the Sunday School and Wesley Guild. He also acted as poor steward, an office which had been held by members of his family for over twenty years.

In November 1916 Herbert made an application to be exempt from military service. This was something that people in necessary employment such as agriculture could do to allow them to continue working and therefore be exempt from conscription. The application was heard in the Bourne Rural Tribunal of Tuesday 14th November 1916, but his application was refused.

Herbert enlisted into the army in Bourne but the exact date is not known although December 1916 would be the earliest possible.

Herbert’s military records have not been found and are most likely to have been destroyed in the London warehouse fire caused by the Blitz.

Herbert’s original regimental number was possibly 5079, later to be replaced with the new numbering system 241661 in 1917.

The 2/5th Battalion had been training in Bedford at the end of 1916 and in January 1917 were mobilised as part of the 186th Brigade of the 62nd Division. They embarked in Southampton on the SS Queen Alexandra on the 11th January. It is unlikely that the untrained Herbert would have been with them at this time.

As we are unsure of Herbert’s exact movements during the war we can only look at the movements of his Battalion during the final month of his life.

2nd/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division.

Battalion Diaries

1st April 1917 – Behagnies
Battalion moved from Achiet le Petit, Achiet Le Grand and Gomecourt into Behagnies. Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

2nd April 1917 – Behagnies
Five men of C Company accidentally wounded by explosion of bomb or hidden German device in billet. Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

3rd April 1917 – Behagnies
German aeroplane destroyed two obversation balloons at Behagnies and though fired on escaped. Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

4th – 8th April 1917 – Behagnies
Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

9th April 1917 – Behagnies
Brigade practice attack for coming attack on Bullecourt

10th April 1917 – Behagnies
5am Battalion left for concentration of troops behind Ecoust ready to move through as advanced guard in the event of the Anzac corps, who were attacking, breaking through. Troops were ordered back at 7.15am as attack had been postponed.

11th April 1917 – Behagnies
5am Battalion again left for concentration behind Ecoust. Anzacs take both 1st and 2nd objectives but later in the day are driven out. Battalion with other units of brigade billet at Mory.

13th April 1917 – Mory
2nd Lieut Fisher and 12 other ranks along with similar parties from other units of the brigade, successfully fired Bangalore Torpedoes in the enemy wire West of Bullecourt. The Divisional Commander expressed his appreciation of this work.

14th April 1917 – Mory
Lieut L D Goldseller the battalion signal officer was mortally wounded whilst reconnoitring the German position South West of Bullecourt. He was accompanied by four battalion guides who were able to carry him back to Ecoust. As a result of this no 5036 Private E C Rust was awarded the Military Medal and no 5222 Pte C Crabtree and No 5100 Private C Chapman were mentioned in Divisional Orders.

15th April 1917 – Mory
Lieut L D Goldseller was buried by the Jewish Chaplain opposite Mory Abbye (B22a.6.8 – sheet 57c.N.W.

17th April 1917 – Mory
During the afternoon the emeny shelled the Eastern outskirts of Mory where the Battalion was bivouaced and caused casualties of 3 men killed and 9 men wounded in the Battalion. Camps were then moved into the open South of Mory.

15th to 30th April 1917 –
Mory Battalion was employed along with other units of the Brigade repaving Mory roads, the carrying of gas shells forward for special company Royal Engineers, digging in of cable between L’Homme Mort and Ecoust also on filling in craters in Mory and Ecoust. During this period special training was carried out in practicing the attack on the Hindenberg line at Bullecourt.

1st May 1917 – Mory
9am to 12.30pm Companies employed in making strong posts and specialist training 2-4pm Companies went over miniature trench system of Bullecourt and studied the roads and trenches and barrage lines.

2nd May 1917 – Mory
9am to 12.30pm Interior economy and preparation for going into the line. Afternoon companies again went over miniature trench system of Bullecourt. 9.15pm battalion marched to Ecoust (Embankment) where they drew mats for getting over wire, bridges for crossing trenches and bombs. They then formed up on tape line ref Map1:10000 Ecoust St Mein U26.d.9.9 to V26.b.7.1 all was completed by 1.30am and without casualties. Tanks followed the battalion down from L’Homme Mort to Ecoust.

3rd May 1917 – Ecoust
3.45am Zero hour, at Zero hour minus 8 minutes Battalion were moved forward to attack Hindenberg Line West of Bullecourt. A heavy barrage commenced at Zero. A company reached objective and held it until 4pm when they were counter attacked and bombed out, they returned on to embankment, B, C and D companies came under heavy shell fire, rifle and machine gun fire and were held up in front of Enemy front line trench, small parties holding out in shell holes until after dusk when they returned to embankment. Battalion suffered heavy casualties. The following officers were killed, Captain and Adj T Bentley, Lieut D Walker. Missing believed killed 2nd Lieut Jacobs. Missing Captain G Glover, Lieut G Ridley MC, 2nd Lieut E T Sykes, 2nd Lieut Heaton, 2nd Lieuts Darwent and Hutton. Wounded, Captain W Shaw, 2nd Lieuts Fisher A and Simmonds. Shell Shock Lieut K C Feathers and Captain Walker J. N.P Ot Men Killed 2, Missing 123, Wounded 275
8pm Six posts were put out in W.26.C&D under Captain Goodall. Lieut Haigh went out with stretcher bearers to bring in wounded.

4th May 1917 – Ecoust
Battalion still holding the line, wounded dribbled in all day, shelling was heavy at night. Battalion were relieved by 2/6th and 2/7th Duke of Wellingtons and marched back by companies to Mory Cops into camp. During relief there were no casualties. Arrived Mory Copse about 2am next day.

Herbert Rowe was presumed dead on the actions of the 3rd May 1917 when his Battalion attacked the Hindenberg Line at Ecoust in the same attack that cost the life of Baston man Ernest Turner.

This was the original information we found from medals rolls, we have however since found a H Rowe in the International Red Cross Prisoner of War Records.
Here we find document A46935, H Rowe, Private 241661 (old number 5079) Duke of Wellington’s, West Riding Rgt, C Company. Missing since 3.5.1918.
Per: Mrs E Rowe, (Mother), Northorpe, Thurlby, Nr Bourne, Lincolnshire. There are no further records as we would normally expect in the case of other prisoners of war we have researched. Therefore his inclusion of a single page in these records and a missing date over a year after the Army has presumed his death is a bit of a mystery.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Herbert Rowe, 241661, 2nd/5th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment who died on 3 May 1917. Remembered with honour, Arras Memorial and also on the roll of honour in St Firmin’s Church, Thurlby.

Herbert’s cousin Walter Needham of Thurlby also served in the British Army and was killed only 13 days before Herbert.…/harry-h…/