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William Cecil Rowell was born on 29th November 1892 and was the only son of Mr and Mrs Spencer Rowell of Kenwyn, Newton Abbot.

William passed Royal Military College in 1913 and was commissioned into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, landing in France with the 1st Battalion in August 1914. His papers state he stood 5ft 5.5in.

The following month, on 10th September 1914, William was wounded by a shrapnel bullet to the right arm. Having spent three months recovering, he rejoined the Battalion in the December.

In January 1915 at La Bassee, William was wounded a second time. 3453 Private John Gleaves claimed to have rescued Lt Rowell and a Private, saving their lives on the battlefield. He told reporters at the time he had been mentioned in despatches and was recommended for the Victoria Cross.

This was to be the end of Rowell’s service with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment overseas. After a spell in hospital he was then employed at the depot and can be found as the approving officer on many a man’s enlistment papers.


He then transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and qualified as a pilot in October 1918.

A day after the Armistice, on 12th November 1918 William crashed his aircraft whilst flying in Kent. He survived the crash, but shattered his thigh.

In January 1919 it was decided that his leg would be amputated. The operation resulted in William suffering septic poisoning, from which he never recovered.

Captain William Cecil Rowell died in London in May 1919. He was just 26 years old.


For his war service, his father Spencer applied for his late sons 1914 Star with clasp, the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Paul McCormick
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2 Responses to Captain William Cecil Rowell

  1. Robert Pearson says:

    Hi I recently took a photo Of Wc Rowells gravestone, Would you like a copy for your collection, if so please send me your e-mail address and ill send them to you

    all the best


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