No. 5749 Private Andrew George Rowan
Andrew Rowan was born in Werribee in 1896, and was the only son of Andrew Dunbar Rowan and Annie Cattanach Troup, of Ballater, Werribee, Victoria. Andrew also had two sisters:
- Helen Margaret "Nellie" Rowan, who was born at Clunes in 1894, and
- Florance Annie "Florrie" Rowan who was born at Werribee in 1902.
Andrew was educated at the Geelong College, before becoming a farmer. He had an interest in military matters, and on his enlistment papers he stated that he had the following previous experience.
- Three years with the 29th A.L.H. at Werribee, until February 1916.
- Two months with 3.V.R. in Melbourne.
- Two years S.C. [School Cadets] 69th Battalion at Werribee.
“ROWAN. - In fond and loving memory of our dear
daughter and sister, who died at "Ballater," Werribee, 25th May, 1914.
The Argus, 25 May 1916, p.1.
At the age of 20 years, and 2 months, Andrew George Rowan enlisted in the A.I.F. on 23 February 1916 at Melbourne, and provided a letter of consent from both of his parents. He first went to the Broadmeadows Camp where he was appointed to the 7th Battalion, 18th Reinforcements. The 7th Battalion, 13 to 23 Reinforcements embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A33 Ayrshire on 3 July 1916. Two months later they disembarked at Plymouth in England, and went to the 2nd Training Battalion at Perham Downs, where he stayed for one month. It was here that he was promoted to Acting Corporal.
On 2 October 1916, they proceeded to France, and arrived at the 1st A.D.B.D. at Etpales Camp, France on 9 October 1916. On joining the 7th Battalion from the reinforcements, his acting rank was withdrawn, and he reverted to the ranks.
On the 1 November 1916 they marched out of the camp to their Unit which was located at Gueudecourt, in the Somme department of northern France, where he was taken on strength two days later. He was admitted to No 1 A.G. Hospital at Rouen one week later, suffering from tonsillitis. On the 17 November 1917 he was transferred to No 2 Construction Depot at Rouen. This was a large supply and support base, in northern France.
On 28 November, he joined the 1st A.D.B.D. at Etaples Camp, from the Hospital. (Australian Divisional Base Depot)
He was back in the 24th General Hospital from the 16 January 1917 until the 2 February 1917, when he was discharged to B/D Hypertrophy Tonsils, and went back to the 1st A.D.B.D.
On the 27 February he was "T.B." reclassified A, and was able to re-join his Battalion in France on 10 May 1917.
The 7th Battalion was withdrawn from the front line for training on 9 May 1917 and did not return to action in Belgium until the Ypres offensive of September and October. It fought major battles at Menin Road on 20 September and Broodseinde on 4 October 1917.
From the Battalion’s War Diary:-
"October 4, 1917. 7th A.I. Brigade advanced its front to BROODSEINDE RIDGE in conjunction with the 6th A.I. Brigade on Right, and 11th A.I. Brigade on Left. The attack was launched in two phases:- 25th Battalion attacking the Red line, and 26th Battalion attacking the BLUE line. 27th Battalion were in Support, and 28th Battalion in Reserve. The attack was successful, and the BLUE Line was reported captured according to schedule."
[No mention of casualties]
It was during this advance to Broodseinde Ridge that Private Rowan was wounded in action on 4 October 1917. Sometime after the event, April 1918, two of his fellow soldiers made a statements that they were near Private Rowan on the morning of 4 October 1917, when he was hit in the back by an exploding enemy shell. They took him out of the shell hole and handed over to two stretcher bearers from the 8th Battalion.
At a Court of Inquiry that was held by the C.O. of the 7th Battalion on 19 February 1918, his status was changed to "Wounded and Missing in Action". A further Court of Inquiry held on 24 June 1918 determined that he had been "Killed in Action".
A report of his wounding was published in The Argus.
“ROWAN, Andrew G. only son of Mr and Mrs A.D. Rowan, of "Ballater", Werribee, has been wounded while serving with the 7th Battalion in France. He is an old Geelong College boy.”
The Argus, 15 November 1917,p.6.
After learning that his only son had been wounded and missing, Mr A.D. Rowan decided to sell his farm at Werribee, and held a sale on 18 April 1918. This included his pedigreed draught mares, shorthorn cattle, Yorkshire pigs, farming implements and everything. After the sale, he relocated to Romford, Inverness Avenue, Malvern, Victoria.
Six months after he had been killed, The Argus contained a report that "Private A.G. Rowan, who was previously reported wounded, is now reported as wounded and missing since 04 October 1917. He was 22 years of age".
The Argus, 20 April 1918,p.18.
It was not until nine months after his death that The Argus reported his death, as follows:
"Officially reported killed in action (previously reported wounded and missing), 4th October, 1917, Corporal Andrew George, beloved only son of Andrew D. and Annie C., and loving brother of Florrie Rowan, of "Romford," Inverness Avenue, Malvern. Aged 21 years.
The report was also covered in the Werribee Shire Banner, 11 July 1918, p.2.
Medals & Entitlements:
- British War Medal - issued
- Victory Medal - received 17 December 1923
- Memorial Plaque - received 25 November 1922
- Memorial Scroll - received 7 April 1922
IN MEMORIUM - ROWAN.- A tribute to the memory of our dear friend, Corporal Andrew George Rowan, killed in action in France. October 4th, 1917. 'A friend worthy of remembrance.' - Inserted by his sorrowing friends, J. and M. Blencowe and family, Bendigo.
Werribee Shire Banner, 3 October 1918, p.2.
CONDOLENCE. At a meeting of the Werribee Shire Council, Cr. Shaw moved that a letter of condolence be sent to Mr. and Mrs. Rowan, for the loss of their son, Corporal A. G. Rowan, who died on active service.
Werribee Shire Banner, 1 August 1918, p.3.
His name is commemorated in two Registers
a. The Register of Menin Gate Memorial. Part 9. (Australians R-Z), and
b. The Register of Polygon Wood Cemetery and others. (Divisional Collecting Post Cemetery Extension, Boesinghe, Belgium as -
"ROWAN, Pte. Andrew George, 5749. 7th Bn.
4th Oct., 1917. Age 21. Only son of Andrew
Dunbar Rowan and Annie Cattaanach Rowan, of
"Rickland", 12, Lambert Road, Toorak,
Victoria. Native of Werribee, Victoria".
The Werribee Avenue of Honor.
“Werribee was favored with a fine day for the planting of the first trees in the Avenue of Honor, and a good number of people assembled in buggies, jinkers, motors, and on foot.
The following additional donations are acknowledged:
Mr Andrew Rowan £1. “[Private Rowan’s father]
Werribee Shire Banner, 8 August 1918, p.3.
Werribee Presbyterian Church. - On Sunday last a memorial service was conducted in connection with the death of the late Corporal A. D. Rowan. There was a large congregation. The Rev. W. E. Ash spoke of the call of God to Joshua to play the man, as Moses had done. The glory of manhood, as seen in the case of those two men, was that the true man welcomed burden-bearing the husband, the father, the son, the soldier. It was the same with the best women. Sons, parents, nations, churches, had to bear their load, in the spirit of the Master. This was what the deceased soldier had done, and his parents were doing. The choir sang "Crossing the Bar," and the organist Mr. G. M'Keown, played Chopin's "Funeral March."- The amount donated by the Presbyterian congregations in the parish to the French Red Cross fund was £8/12/9, as follows: Werribee, £4/12/9; Truganina, £4
Werribee Shire Banner, 25 July 1918, p.2.
Corporal A. G. Rowan. The young soldier was reported wounded and missing on Oct. 4th, 1917, and although diverse rumours have floated to Werribee of his death, hopes have been entertained that the worst would be that he was a prisoner in the hands of the enemy. However, confirmation has now been received of his death, and our readers will join with us in extending sincere sympathy to his parents and sister, who until recently were highly respected and esteemed citizens of Werribee.
Werribee Shire Banner, 11 July 1918, p.2.