Service Details

THOMAS ROWLANDSON: Some Details of his Military Service

  • May 1900: enrolled into the 2nd Voluntary Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry. Aged 18.
  • 27 February 1901: 2nd Field Service Company, Northumberland Fusiliers regimental no.9075. Aged 19.
  • 22 June 1902: discharged Aged 20.
  • June 1902: re-joined 2ndB.D.L.I. Aged 20
  • 1 April 1908: transferred to 6th DLI (T.A.) Aged 26
  • 5 August 1914: mobilized Aged 32
  • September 1914: transferred to Royal Engineers Signals (R.E.) 1801; later Aged 32
  • 18 April 1915: entered France Aged 33
  • 11 February 1919: disembodied Aged 37.
  • 19 July 1920: 6th DLI Aged 38.
  • 18 July 1926: discharged Aged 44
  • November 1936: enrolled National Defence Company Aged 54
  • 25 August 1939: embodied, transferred to 13th DLI (HD) “D” Coy. Aged 57
  • February 1941: discharged Aged 59
  • May 1941: Home Guard 11th DLI Aged 59
  • 3 December 1944: Home Guard “stood down” [1]
  • 31 December 1945: Home Guard formally disbanded [2]




2nd Voluntary Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry

In December 1887, the Durham Rifle Volunteer Corps underwent a reorganisation and became the 5 Volunteer Battalions, Durham Light Infantry.  The 2nd served volunteers from the Bishop Auckland, Middleton, Stanhope and Barnard Castle areas with its HQ at Bishop Auckland.  In January 1900 an appeal was made to the Volunteer Battalions to raise a company of 116 all ranks to reinforce their regular battalions serving in South Africa.  Many more men in County Durham responded to this call than were required.[1]

The 1st Volunteer Service Company formed from the 5 Durham Volunteer Battalions embarked at Southampton 23rd February 1900 and reached the 1st Battalion, DLI early in April soon after the relief of Ladysmith.  It was camped at Elandslaagte and shared the same fortunes as the 1/DLI until 9 October 1900 when it was sent to Van Reesnen as part of the Drakensberg Defence Force.  It remained there until April 1901 and embarked for home at Durban 8 May 1901.

The 2nd Volunteer Service Company sailed from Albert Dock (Liverpool?) 15 March 1901 and joined 1/DLI 23 April 1901 at Eden’s Kop near Heidelberg becoming an integral part of the regular battalion.  It was relieved at Bankop, on the Swaziland border by a 3rd Volunteer Battalion in April 1902.  The 2/VSB embarked at Cape Town 12 May 1902.

The 3rd Volunteer Service Battalion embarked 9 July 1902.

The 4th Volunteer Service Battalion, formed from Durham and Northumberland volunteer battalions embarked at Southampton 14 March 1901 and on arrival was attached to the 2/Buffs on blockhouse duty between Balmoral and Brugspruit near Pretoria on the Lourenco Marques Railway.  It was later attached to the 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers until it embarked at Cape Town May 1902. [2]

The Durham Volunteer Battalions contributed 10 officers and not less than 400 men.[3]

27 February 1901: Thomas Rowlandson, aged 19, served with the 2nd Field Service Company, Northumberland Fusiliers (regimental no.9075).  It therefore seems probable that he was with the 4th Volunteer Service Battalion with the 2/Buffs and later attached to the 2/NF. Accordingly, it is likely that he served in South Africa between April 1901 and May 1902.  Peace was signed 31 May 1902. [4]  Thomas Rowlandson was discharged 22 June 1902 and immediately re-joined the 2nd Voluntary Battalion, DLI.


Bishop Auckland Town Hall is the home of a commemoration to the 136 men who served with the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Durham Light Infantry and participated in the Boer War 1899-1902.  The text reads:

Boer War 1899-1902

In grateful remembrance of the members of the 2nd Vol. Battn. Durham Light Infantry who in a day of stress and danger offered themselves in patriotic devotion to safeguard the interests of the Empire and served in South Africa with the Volunteer Service Companies and Imperial Yeomanry.

Erected by their fellow townsmen and friends.

The names and rank of those serving with the following companies and yeomanry is given.

1st Service Co. with Durham L.I.

25 names

2nd Service Co. with Durham L.I.

26 names

3rd Service Co. with Durham L.I.

22 names

Service Co. with Northumberland Fusiliers

27 names including Pte. T. Rowlandson

Served with Imperial Yeomanry

36 names


The Durham Volunteers went to training camps such as in 1906 at Conway, in 1907 and 1908 at Ripon.  Between 1888 and 1909, 16 brigade camps had been held and a further 6 battalion camps. [5]

Under the Army reforms of 1908, the Volunteer Forces were dissolved 31 March 1908.  The Territorial Force was inaugurated the following day when it was organised into regional Divisions, area Brigades and local Battalions.

Thomas Rowlandson was to be promoted to Sergeant but since his service record has not been researched then the exact dates of his promotions remain unknown – possibly he was promoted to sergeant about 1910. [6]

Tom’s good friend was Private W. Castle and a photograph of him is provided below.


Boer War Commemoration

Boer War Commemoration

Boer War Commemoration Names

Boer War Commemoration


[1] “Faithful: the story of the Durham Light Infantry” S.G.P. Ward1962 p.262-264

[2] Otherwise known as the East Kent Regiment, a Regular Army unit

[3] Ward p.264-265 & “The Faithful Sixth: a history of the Sixth Battalion The Durham Light Infantry” H. Moses 1995 p13-15 for additional details

[4] Ward p.316

[5] “The Faithful Sixth: a history of the Sixth Battalion The Durham Light Infantry” H. Moses 1995 p.19

[6] His service record has not yet been researched.  A family photograph shows Thomas in uniform with his 3 stripes estimated to be 1910 (T. Rowlandson Collection)

6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry

1 April 1908: The volunteers were reorganised on the lines of the regular army, in brigades and divisions with staffs of regular officers, complete with all their ancillary services.  Under the new scheme the counties of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire supplied 2 divisions, the Northumbrian and West Riding, to the former of which all the Durham Territorial Battalions were assigned.  A Division was in effect a self-contained army of approximately 18,000 men including infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineer, medical, supply and signal units. The Northumbrian Division was typical, consisting of three infantry brigades, the Northumberland, the York and Durham and the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Brigades. Each brigade was composed of four infantry battalions.

The new Durham battalion designations were as follows:

  • The 1/VB became 5th Battalion Durham Light Infantry with HQ at Stockton.
  • The 2/VB became the 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry with HQ at Bishop Auckland (Bishop Auckland 2 companies, Spennymoor 1, Crook 1, Stanhope 1, Barnard Castle 1, Consett 2).
  • The 3/VB became 7th Battalion Durham Light Infantry with HQ at Sunderland.
  • The 4/VB became 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry with HQ at Durham.
  • The 5/VB became 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry with HQ at Gateshead.

They were brigaded in the Northumbrian Division in the following manner:

  • Northumberland Brigade: 4th 5th 6th & 7th Northumberland Fusiliers
  • York & Durham Brigade: 4th East York, 4th & 5th Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) and 5th DLI
  • Durham Brigade: 6th 7th 8th & 9th DLI

In 1907 Lieutenant General Robert Baden-Powell was appointed to command the Division and he held command from April 1908 to 1910.  Members of the 6/DLI Territorial Force attended weekend training camps such as: [1]

  • 1909: Fitches Farm, near Witton-le-Wear and Blackhall Rocks
  • 1910: Witton-le-Wear and Rothbury, Northumberland
  • 1911: Bisley (Glos. or Surrey?)
  • 1912 and 1913: Scarborough
  • 1914: Conway, North Wales

1914-1919:  The Great War: The 50th (Northumbrian) Division

A Summary

The Northumbrian Division moved to France in April 1915.  In May 1915, the Division was numbered as the 50th and the Brigades received the following numbers:

  • 149th Northumberland Brigade
  • 150th York and Durham Brigade
  • 151st Durham Brigade [2]

The 50th Division served on the Western Front for the rest of the war. In 1915 it took part in the Second Battle of Ypres and the Battle of the Somme in 1916.   In 1917 it took part in the Battle of Arras and the Third Battle of Ypres. As a result of the losses suffered in the German Spring of 1918 (First Battle of the Somme and Battle of the Lys), the division had to be comprehensively reorganized.  The assigned infantry battalions were reduced to cadre on 15 July 1918 and left the Division. Thereafter, it took part in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line and the Final Advance in Picardy, 1918.  [3]      

Between 4 August 1914 and 15 July 1918, 1/6 DLI came under the orders of 151st Brigade 50th Division and between 16 August 1918 and 6 November 1918 it came under the orders of 117th Brigade 39th Division.[4]  Thomas Rowlandson served with the Royal Engineer Signals attached to the 50th Division known as 50th Divisional Signal Company.[5]  At the outbreak of war, the Divisional Royal Engineers were the 1st and 2nd Northumbrian Field Companies commanded by Major G.C. Pollard and Major J.E McPherson respectively and the Northumbrian Divisional Signal Company under the command of Captain W.H. Dodds.[6]


[1] H. Moses 1995 p.19  & photographs T. Rowlandson Collection

[2] Ward p.265 & 266


[4] Ward p.334

[5] “The Fiftieth Division 1914-1919” E. Wyrall 1939 p.359

[6] Wyrall p.3

Serjeant T. ROWLANDSON, R.E. (50 Div. Signal Coy.)

Military Service Summary 1914-1919

Phase 1: Home

  • 4 August 1914 – 18 April 1915: Home

Phase 2: Ypres Salient & Armentieres Sector

  • 19 April 1915 – 13 March 1916: Ypres Salient & Armentieres Sector including leave 30 July – 4 August 1915
  • 14 March – 19 April 1916: sick, No.10 C.C.S. Poperinghe, Australian Hospital, Boulogne & No.5 Convalescent Camp
  • 20 April – 8 August 1916: Armentieres Sector

Phase 3: The Somme

  • 9 August – 1 December 1916: with the Division
  • 30 October 1916, awarded the Military Medal
  • 2 December 1916 – 29 March 1917: Signalling Classes

Phase 4: Arras Sector

  • 30 March – 15 October 1917: Arras Sector, mainly Signalling Classes
  • 30 July – 1 September 1917: leave

Phase 5: Northern France

  • 16 October 1917 – 22 March 1918: Bollezeele area (between Dunkirk/St. Pol) Signalling Classes

Phase 6: The British Withdrawal & Spanish Flu

  • 23 March 1918 – 28 April 1918: German Spring Offensive – leave cancelled, travelled from Calais to Harbonnieres (Somme) then part of the British retreat northwards
  • 3 May 1918 – 8 June 1918: Champagne area: Signalling Classes until the German Aisne Offensive commenced
  • 9 June 1918 – 27 July: moved southwards, finally to Dieppe area
  • 28 July 1918 – 13 September 1918: sick, pneumonia, No.5 Stationary Hospital, Dieppe. Probably Spanish Flu.

Phase 7: The Somme, Albert

  • 14 September 1918 – 31 December 1918: Albert area: Signalling Classes
  • 7 January 1919: Home
  • 13 January 1919: Final Discharge


Serjeant T.Rowlandson

Serjeant T.Rowlandson


8997 Private W. Castle 13th Field Ambulance 5th Div. R.A.M.C.

8997 Private W. Castle 13th Field Ambulance 5th Div. R.A.M.C.


24 September 1950 DLI Reunion Brancepeth Castle T. Rowlandson seated LHS behind DLI flag

24 September 1950
DLI Reunion
Brancepeth Castle
T. Rowlandson seated LHS behind DLI flag