H.W. Rowland
Salvage Vessels
Belgian Coast
Salvage Operations

H. W. Rowland

Born 14 November 1879 in Norwich, Norfolk.

Admitted a Full Member by trade a Fitter to the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Machinists, Millwrights Smiths & Pattern Makers on 14th July 1900 aged 21 years and 3 months in Sunderland.


Recorded in the 1901 census as residing with his parents in Sunderland and working as a fitter.

Married Ethel Maud Barker 14 April 1906 in Sunderland.

Recorded in the 1911 census as residing in Sunderland and working as a marine fitter aged 31 with two children Harry and Jane (4 and 3 years).

Moved to Liverpool sometime between 1911 and 1914 as Francis Walter Rowland was born in Liverpool 24 October 1914.

Two photographs of H. W. Rowland, dates unknown, in the uniform of the L. S. A., the Liverpool Salvage Association identified by the enlarged cap motif on the right

Pass H.W. Rowland over Firth Bridge for H. Rowland of Salvage steam Ranger dated 16/6/1916 Carlingnose. (nb. Name(s) Forth Defences; Carlingnose Barracks)

I believe that H. W. Rowland joined the Liverpool Salvage Association between 1912 and 1914.

H. W. Rowland served in the Admiralty Salvage Section from January 1915 until September 1921.

Letter entitled Admiralty Salvage Section from F. W. Young, Commodore in Charge, Admiralty Salvage Section, Admiralty, London S. W. 1., dated 23rd November 1921 served in the Admiralty Salvage Section.

The promotion referred to in the above letter is confirmed in the following letter:

Seven months after the end of the WW1 in November 1918, H. W. Rowland was working on the Belgian Coast Salvage Operations. Letter entitled Belgian Coast Salvage Operations from Walter M. Murdoch, Engineer Commander R. N. R., Admiralty, London S. W. 1., dated 9th February 1922 employed as Senior Motor Engineer from May 1919 until September 1921.

A monument 'to the Memory of our Countrymen who fell in the Great Raid on Zeebrugge in 1918', subscribed for by the British Salvage Section, was unveiled by Mrs Young on April 25, 1920, in Zeebrugge Churchyard.

For the Belgian Coast Salvage, H. W. Rowland was based on 2 ships, HMS Wrangler and HMS Reindeer, from November 1918 to September 1921 as the following discharge papers confirm. In the following photograph taken during the Belgian Coast operations H. W. Rowland sits in the front of the group. This was most likely taken on the deck of the support vessel Rheindeer. In 1920 H. W. Rowland was hospitalised in Belgium and consequently was hard of hearing for the rest of his life.

Certificate of Discharge from H. M. Salvage Ship Wrangler, Admiralty Salvage Section, served 1/11/1918 to 26/4/1919
  Belgian Coast Salvage

Certificate of Discharge from H. M. Salvage Ship Reindeer, Admiralty Salvage Section, served 26/4/1919 to 21/9/1921

H. W. Rowland was awarded  the medal Ford Sands, for War Services 1914-19, obverse with crossed flags, reverse inscribed, ‘H. Rowland’, 22 x 22mm., 9ct. gold and enamel, 4.3g., hallmarks for Birmingham 1920.

He left the Admiralty Salvage Section in September 1921 and one assumes went back to the Liverpool Salvage Association. Although he has discharge papers for the period he was 'seconded' to the Admiralty, he is not listed in the usual crew lists for ships, for example the 1915 crew list for the Ranger, and so one can only assume that he was a seagoing engineer and not officially a crew member. The above pass would therefore indicate that he travelled to join the Ranger. His involvement in salvage operations after 1921 is therefore based on the limited postcards and other personal effects.
Details of the Ranger's activities are also limited as confirmed by Desmond Young in his book Ship Ashore writing about the salvage operations carried out by his father Commodore Frederick Young and his time aboard the salvage vessel Ranger:
"There is no accurate record of her service. But the numberof ships which she has assisted must run into many hundreds" Ship Ashore, Adventures in Salvage by Desmond Young, Jonathan Cape 1932, p.33

In 1923 was H.W. Rowland involved in the salvage operations of the Clan Macmaster. Below photograph of the Clan Master and note from H.W. Rowland to his daughter "this is the wreck one when we went to her and the other as she is now"


In 1925 he was working on the salvage of the West Hesseltine off Dakar, Senegal, presumably having joined the Ranger for the outward and return journey.

In 1931, he was involved in the salvage of the Benmohr aboard the salvage vessel Restorer.

H. W. Rowland's son Francis Walter Rowland was employed by the L&GSA sometime in 1935/6 at the age of 21, so one may assume that H. W. Rowland was still employed by the L&GSA aged 56.

Based on the research undertaken and anecdotal accounts, it is fairly certain that H. W. Rowland was employed by the L&GSA  through 1939 at the time of the salvage of the Thetis until his retirement, date  presently unknown but assumed to be in the 1940's.

At some time, H. W. Rowland using materials salvaged on the Belgian Coast, made a chair and 2 walking sticks amongst other items:


part of deck
H.M.S. Vindictive
fore, thinner walking stick

H.M.S. Vindictive
back, thicker walking stick

part of fore deck
H.M.S. Thetis