Maurice Frank Rowland OBE was born in St Albans in 1911 and attended St Alban’s Grammar School. Pre-war he married Sheila and lived all his married life in East Horsley, Surrey. They had 2 daughters, Marilyn and Julia, and 6 grandchildren.
2nd Lt Maurice Rowland (image below post war)
After graduation, Rowland took over the control of his grandfather’s firm Reginald Barker Ltd, Trade Mark & Patent Agents. He was a founder member and President of the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (CITMA). Founded in 1934, CITMA has a Royal Charter. CITMA continues to this day as the internationally recognised professional membership organisation with the power to shape law and practice.
Along with many of the 140 Regiment officers, Rowland had joined the Honorable Artillery Company pre-war, and after the Regiment’s formation in 1939 he became Assistant Adjuntant attached to HQ 367 Battery, working alongside Capt. Cecil Hood (see Biographies) who was Regimental Adjuntant.
Rowland was involved in the fighting at Cassel with 367 Battery and posted as Missing in Action on 30th May 1940. It wasn’t until August 1940 that his family received a telegram saying that he had survived and was POW at Oflag VIIC Laufen. It appears he had participated in the Breakout from Cassel and had been captured near Watou. His early years in captivity were spent with Tom Hood, Ronald Baxter and Paddy Sirkett (see Biographies & Captain Baxter’s diary).
Rowland kept a detailed hand-written diary, which was passed on to his daughter Julia. I’ve reproduced it in the relevant sections of the website. It provides an illuminating insight into the Regiment’s war in 1940 as well as a personal account of captivity & POW life 1940-45.
Early into captivity he received an injury to his legs related to prolonged immersion in a water-filled cellar and was treated in a German hospital for 18 months. His captivity also resulted in chronic skin infections and dental problems related to gingivitis.
2nd Lt Rowland with other POWs in Hospital
Like many POW’s Rowland’s return to civilian life wasn’t easy; he had trouble reconnecting to a very changed post-war British society and had to re-establish his family life after a traumatic 5-year hiatus. His second daughter was born post-war in 1947.
Maurice Rowland OBE was lifelong lover of gardening, especially of his prized rose garden. He died in 1986, age 75 years.
Post war, Maurice kept a close association with Captain ‘Tom’ Hood who lived in nearby Oxshott. Their daughters attended the same school in Surrey. Both Hood and Rowland had maintained a rather formal ‘stiff upper lip‘ attitude throughout their lives, however when Hood attended his friend’s funeral it appears that all the shared years of fighting, fear and sacrifice became too much for Tom, who sobbed uncontrollably.