The Soldier's Details

Surname:
Rowell
First Name:
Edward John
Nick Name:
Ted
Rank:
Corporal
Regimental #:
WX10793
Company:
‘C’ Company
Enlisted:
15.01.1941
DOB:
9.08.1916
Place of Birth:
Fremantle, Western Australia
Father's Name:
George Thomas Rowell
Mothers's Name:
Gertrude Alma Rowell (nee Rouse)
Religion:
Methodist
Pre-war Occupation:
Hairdresser
Memorial:
Epitaph, Singapore Memorial, Column 135, Age 25.
Cause of Death:
Killed in Action
Place of Death:
Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
Date of Death:
12.01.1942
Buried:
Where killed at map reference 758128 by Major A. Cough Party on 21.12.1942.

General Description

Ted Rowell enlisted AIF 15 Jan 1941 and soon after joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘C’ Company, 11 Platoon. He was promoted to Corporal serving under Commanding Officer Lt Boyle.  Other Corporals with 11 Platoon included:
Cpl J.A. Baker (lost at sea when ‘Rakuyo’ Maru sank South China Sea 1944)
Cpl Danny Bevis – Returned to Australia, however died several years after returning.
Cpl Climie (survived the sinking of Rakuyo Maru, was picked up by Japanese naval ship.  Died in an air-raid Japan 1945)
Cpl Minchin (sailed ‘Rakuyo’ Maru with Climie, however perished when ship was torpedoed and sunk by US Navy)

and Cpl Foxall (d. cholera, Beke Tuang 40km Hospital camp.  Burma-Thai Railway July 1943).

The six Corporals of 11 Platoon left with the first work party out of Singapore – ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion. 

 

Edward John Rowell

Edward John Rowell

Rowell

Rowell

His parents George Thomas Rowell and Gertrude Alice Rouse married Fremantle 1913. It is not known when the Rowell family moved to Bayswater, however we believe Ted attended school here.
When Ted enlisted 15 Jan 1941 he had been residing Murray Street, Bayswater working as a hairdresser.  His father George was a wagon builder and also residing in Murray Street with Ted’s mother and Ted’s sister Ethel.
George Rowell died at Bayswater in Oct 1978 aged 93 years.  He was buried at Karrakatta.  Gertrude Rowell died Bayswater in 1981aged 88 years, and was also buried Karrakatta.
We regret we have been unable to find any further information about Ted and his family.

Below:  1936, Ted’s older brother Ken announces his engagement.

Below:  Sister Ethel becomes engaged in 1943.

 

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (WX10793) Acting Corporal Edward John Rowell, 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion

 

Speech transcript

WX10793 Acting Corporal Edward John Rowell, 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force.
KIA 12 February 1942
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 27 September 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Acting Corporal Edward John Rowell, who was killed while serving in the Second World War.

Born in Fremantle on 9 August 1916, Edward Rowell was the son of George Thomas Rowell and Gertrude Alma Rowell of Bayswater, Western Australia. On 15 January 1941 he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force. He was posted to the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, a support unit for the 8th Australian Division. The battalion came together at Northam military camp, east of Perth, where it carried out its training. In July 1941 the battalion moved to Adelaide, and then to Darwin in October.

Following Japan’s entry into the war in early December 1941 the Malayan peninsula was invaded by Japanese forces. At the end of the month the 2/4th Machine Gun battalion was dispatched from Darwin to join the main body of the division in Malaya, via Port Moresby. However, following a Japanese attack on Rabaul, New Britain, the convoy was turned back to Sydney to take the long way round, via Fremantle. It finally reached Singapore in January 1942.

From mid-January, the units of the 8th Division were involved in fierce fighting against the Japanese forces on the Malayan peninsula, and it was not long before the 2/4th Machine Gun battalion was in action.

By the beginning of February, British and Commonwealth forces had been pushed back to the island of Singapore, and on the night of 8 February Japanese forces began landing.

Almost 1,800 Australians were killed in the month-long campaign in Malaya and Singapore – 900 were killed in just one week of fighting on Singapore Island. The 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion suffered more than 200 casualties during the battle of Singapore, one-third of its total strength.

On 12 February, 30 members of the battalion were killed in action, including Acting Corporal Edward Rowell. He was 25 years old.

His name appears on the Singapore Memorial at the Kranji War Cemetery. His name is also listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among some 40,000 Australians who died while serving in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Acting Corporal Edward John Rowell, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section

 

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