19-year-old Private John Geoffrey Rowley was killed in action on 8th October 1918 whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. Born in Solihull on 27th July 1899, he was baptised at St Alphege Church, Solihull on 20th August 1899.
He was the younger of the two surviving sons of parents Alfred and Mary Ann (née Nott) who had married in 1892 in their home town of Martley, Worcestershire. The couple apparently had a third child who died before 1911.
The eldest son, William Alfred, was born in 1896 in Martley, but the family had moved to Streetsbrook Road, Solihull by the time of John’s birth in 1899, where Alfred was working as a stockman. By 1901, Alfred had become a labourer and was working on the canal at Tipton, Staffordshire. By 1911, the family was still in Tipton, with Alfred being recorded as a lock-keeper, and 15-year-old son William described as an assistant in the hair-dressing trade. 11-year-old John was still at school.
We don’t have any information on John’s occupation before joining the Army. but, according to the December 2014 Newsletter of the Lichfield and Walsall Archdeaconries Society of Change Ringers, he was a bell-ringer at Tipton.
According to Soldiers Died in the Great War, John was living at Bilston, Staffordshire when he enlisted in the Army in Wolverhampton.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial, France. Having moved away from his birthplace by the age of one, he is not commemorated on Solihull war memorial.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977