Daniel was one of four children born in 1897, in Brindley Ford, to Daniel Rowley and his wife, Mary Louisa, née Harrison. They had married at St. James’, Newchapel in 1890 and lived at 13, Bourne Street. Following his father’s early death in 1899, his mother married Michael Flanneghan in 1901. The family continued to live at 13, Bourne Street and three more children were born. Michael died in 1907.
In 1911, still at 13, Bourne Street, 13-year-old Daniel was living with his widowed mother, two siblings and two half-siblings. Still at school he probably went to Brindley Ford School before leaving aged 14.
Daniel enlisted at Tunstall in the North Staffordshire Regiment with a regimental number 61576; no battalion is known as his service records cannot be found. However, Daniel later transferred regiments. His new unit was the East Surrey Regiment from where he was posted to the 1st/23rd (County of London) Battalion London Regiment. This battalion mobilised in the St. Albans area in preparation to embark for service in France, crossing the English Channel to Le Havre on March 16th 1915. It is not known if Daniel was with them or joined in the field later as no date of entry is stated on his medal card. The 1915 star was not awarded so it would seem that he did join later.
The 1st/23rd Battalion attached to the 142nd Brigade 47th (2nd London) Division and in May 1915 saw action in the Battles of Aubers Ridge and Festubert, and again in September and October in the Battle of Loos, where the battalion fought in the murderous action at the Hohenzollern Redoubt. Vimy Ridge was the next major action for Daniel and his mates in May 1916 and within the next two months, the 47th Division fought in the Battle of the Somme. In the major attacks at Flers-Courcelette and then the bitter fighting which cost many men in the division their lives when they bravely fought hand to hand during the capture of High Wood. This was a major victory for the army. The 1st/23rd Battalion also fought in the actions at Transloy Ridge, the capture of Eaucourt and the Butte de Warlencourt.
After spending a miserable winter in the trenches, one of the worst in living memory, the lads were ordered into the attack on the high ground at Messines in the first weeks of May 1917. The Third Battle of Ypres was their next battleground in July and August at Pilkem Ridge. They fought in appalling conditions in the Salient where the division continued fighting towards Passchendaele until late September when they were ordered to leave the Salient and prepare to fight on another battlefield at Cambrai. Here in November the division captured Bourlon Wood and then fought in another bitter action during the enemy counter attack.
March 21st 1918 was the start of the enemy’s Spring Offensive. Daniel and his mates were in the St. Quentin area at this time fighting a controlled withdrawal. During these enemy assaults the division suffered major losses and had many of their soldiers taken prisoner. By August the enemy advance had been reversed. The “turn of the tide” and the Second Battle of the Somme found the 1st/23rd Battalion pushing the enemy back at Albert over the old Somme battlefield and then on to Bapaume. During these actions, on August 30th 1918, Private Daniel Rowley was sadly lost on the battlefield. He was 21 years old and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial.
Daniel is also remembered on the Brindley Ford memorial.
Elaine Bryan and Michael Turnock.