Rowe, William



Private William Thomas Rowe – 195302 – ACTIVE SERVICE (World War I)

On November 1, 1915 William Thomas Rowe completed the Attestation Paper for the Canadian Army (Expeditionary Force). He was 28 years old when, as a married man, he enlisted for the duration of the War. William Thomas was born in Wollaston Township, Hastings County, Ontario and gave his birth-date as August 6, 1887. On his Attestation Paper William indicated ”he did not presently belong to an Active Militia and that he had never served in any Military Force”. There is nothing on his File to indicate where he was educated or to what level. As far as his Trade or Calling is concerned he lists Farmer. William Thomas was 5′ 5¾” tall, with a 36¼” chest (expanded); his weight is listed as 134 pounds. He had a medium complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair. His Medical Examination was completed October 9, 1915 in Lakefield. He had no medical issues or physical limitations and as such he was deemed fit for Overseas duty with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His next-of-kin was listed as his wife, Mrs. Mary Anne Rowe, of Lakefield, Ontario. William Thomas signed the Oath and Certificate of Attestation on November 1, 1915 in Peterborough, Ontario. The Certificate of Magistrate was signed by the Justice on November 1, 1915. William Thomas Rowe was taken-on-strength with the 57th Battalion (Bn) as a Private (Pte) and was assigned Service Number 195302. When the 93rd Battalion (Peterborough) Canadian Expeditionary Force which was authorized and formed up on December 22, 1915, Pte Rowe was taken-on-strength with this new Unit.

The 93rd Bn, after training through the winter and spring at 5 different area Centres, departed by train from Peterborough on May 29, 1916. They made a short stop at Barriefield Camp located at Kingston, Ontario before moving on to the main Canadian Expeditionary Force Training Centre located at Valcartier, Québec, to complete Basic Infantry training, before being transported overseas to the UK, by ship. The 93rd Bn embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 15, 1916 aboard the SS Empress of Britain.


Pte Rowe disembarked at Liverpool, England on July 25, 1916. On September 7, 1916 he was struck-off-strength from the 93rd Bn on transfer to the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR) stationed at Otterpool, England. Pte Rowe embarked from England and disembarked at France on September 8, 1916 where he was taken-on-strength with the 5th CMR in the Field. On September 25, 1916 he left for the 3rd Echelon Battalion (E Bn) arriving September 28, 1916. He left for and joined his Unit October 2, 1916 which, according to the 5th CMR War Diaries, were already on the Front-Line.

It is interesting to note that the Military Records for the 4 Rowe Veterans show that they all embarked at Halifax, Nova Scotia on the SS Empress of Britain on July 15, 1916. In the paragraph above the dates, up to October 2, 1916, for Pte William Thomas Rowe coincide exactly with those for Pte James Howard Rowe. Both were with the 5th CMR and it is believed that they are cousins.
The 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles was a Québec Regiment raised in the Eastern Townships from volunteers of the 7th and 11th Hussars of Sherbrooke, Québec. On January 1, 1916, the 5th CMR was converted to an Infantry Unit and attached to the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade.

Military Records indicate that on October 14, 1916, it was reported that Private William Thomas Rowe was killed-in-action on October 10, 1916.

The 5th CMR War Diaries indicate that on October 10, 1916, there were a number of occurrences that could explain the death of Pte Rowe. ”The first was at 1:30 AM, when a German 5.9” shell struck the mouth of the Headquarters Trench killing two men. Then, during the early morning hours and in the evening a number of Patrols were sent out to inspect the condition of the German wire and to prevent them from repairing it. Next, from 5:55 PM and 6:20 PM, the Front-Line and support Trenches were hit with whiz bangs, shrapnel, and 5.9” shells killing two men. Finally, in addition, both the 5th CMR and 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade War Diaries indicate that, on this day, time was spent digging assembly Trenches 100 yards in front of the Front-Line Trenches”. It is worth noting, that the name of Private William Thomas Rowe appears on the Vimy Memorial as one of the 11,000 Canadian soldiers ”who were posted as missing, presumed dead in France”, indicating that his body was never found. His name also appears on Page 157 of the First World War Book of Remembrance located in the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Ontario.

There is no reference in Private William Thomas Rowe’s Military File indicating what Military Medals he was awarded but based on his Military Service, he should have received:

British War Medal 1914 – 1920; and
Victory Medal.
He also qualified for War Service Badge CEF Class “A”.
Memorial Crosses were sent to Pte Rowe’s wife; Mrs. M.A. Rowe of Lakefield and his mother; Mrs. S. Rowe of Young’s Point, followed by the Memorial Scroll on January 22, 1912 and the Memorial Plaque on December 31, 1921.

Based on his Military File, Private William Thomas Rowe served a total of 11 months and 10 days with the Canadian Expeditionary Force: 7 months and 15 days in Canada, 1 month and 24 days in England – including transit to England, and 1months and 2 days in France.
An excerpt from an article in Maclean’s by Barbara Ameil, September 1996:

The Military is the single calling in the world with job specifications that include a commitment to die for your nation. What could be more honorable.


William Thomas Rowe was born August 6, 1887 in Wollaston Township, Hastings County, Ontario, son of John James Rowe and Susan Sutton. William Thomas worked as a labourer; he was the 3rd eldest of 6 children.

On January 6, 1908 William Thomas Rowe married Mary Ann Bunn, born 1889 in England, in Peterborough. In the 1911 Census they had two sons: Henry, born October 1908 and Bertram, born October 1909.
Mary Ann Bunn’s parents are Henry Bunn & Emma Roberts.


William Thomas’ paternal grandparents are Thomas and Susan Rowe. His maternal grandparents are James and Ann Sutton.
William Thomas’ parents; John James Rowe, born February 18, 1862 in England (Immigrated in 1862), married Susan Sutton, born December 26, 1858 in Ontario, on February 27, 1883. They had six children:
Albert J. Rowe, born December 28, 1884;
William Thomas Rowe, born August 6, 1887 in Wollaston Township, Hastings County, Ontario;
George Henry Rowe, born March 5, 1891 in Smith Township, Ontario;
Charlotte A, Rowe, born September 5, 1892;
Emma S. Rowe, born March 31, 1895; and
Florence M. Rowe, born September 16, 1897.

Susan Sutton’s Parents are James and Ann Sutton.
George Henry Rowe, born February 16, 1880 in Lakefield and James Howard Rowe, born June 9, 1891 in Lakefield are sons of William Rowe born about 1861 in England. (actually ½ brothers)
George Henry Rowe, born March 5, 1891 in Smith Township and William Thomas Rowe born August 6, 1887 in Hastings, Ontario are sons of John James Rowe, born February 18, 1862 and Susannah Sutton.

It sure appears that William and John James are brothers making the sets of brothers, cousins.