Ystalyfera Fallen

War Graves & Remembrance Graves

Douglas Rowbathan

This is the memorial page for Douglas Parker Rowbothan, native of Ystalyfera, killed during the First World War. The Ystalyfera War Memorial has his surname down as Robotham, but there is nobody matching that name at the CWGC, whilst the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Scouts Memorial at St. David's, Ystalyfera and the the book "Still Glow The Embers" record the spelling as Rowbothan.

At the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, his name is spelt as Robathan, which is also how it appears on the Helles Memorial.

The information on Douglas Rowbothan comes principally from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, from the book Still Glow The Embers by E.Morgan.

NameDouglas Parker Rowbothan [Robathan]
Date of Death10th August 1915
Place of DeathGallipoli
Age at Death27
Unit and RegimentWelsh Regiment; 5th Bn
Service Number
Additional Information
Remembrance Grave  
MemorialHELLES MEMORIAL - TURKEY; Panel 140 to 144.
Local MemorialsYstalyfera War Memorial
Scouts Memorial in St. David's, Ystalyfera
Family DetailsBorn in Risca, Monmouthshire, 28th January 1888 son of George Beckett Robathan of the Grove Risca Monmouth, M.R.C.S. engineer and Frances Elizabeth, daughter of the late John Paull of Brockley Somerset.
Known BrothersFrank Robathan (Captain in the Army Service Corps in WW1)
Eric Robathan (who was living in Canada at the start of WW1)
Percival Edward Robathan (Chartered Accountant, Cardiff - also listed as a Major)
Lionel Robathan (Master of Llandaff Cathedral School)
Half-brother Colonel Wilkie (of the Bantams - part of the WW1 Canadian Expeditionary Force)
Known Sisters

From the book Still Glow The Embers by E.Morgan :-

Captain Rowbothan came to Ystalyfera from Cardiff in 1912. He was a mining engineer working with the management at Tarenni Colliery. A Territorial, he was called up with others in the T. A., on the first day of the war in 1914. He was serving with the 6th Welsh Regiment when he was killed in Gallipoli.

Captain Rowbothan, well over six feet in height, made a very smart officer. He was an excellent musician with a very good voice. Another great interest of his was cricket. I believe he came from a large family of cricketing brothers. He took a great interest in teaching us youngsters at Varteg to play his favourite game.

The above is a quote from "Still Glow The Embers" by Skip Morgan.

The service history of the Welsh batallions can be found on this website:-

The 5th Batallion is down as the 1/5th, and its service record listed as being the same as the 1/4th above it, showing service in Gallipoli from August 1915. This shows the landing at Suvla Bay on the 9th August 1915, and Captain Robathan's death occurring on the 10th August 1915 places it almost immediately afterwards.

The local newspaper of 28th August 1915 reported the news of Captain Douglas P. Robathan's death:-

Deep regret was felt locally on Saturday, when the news was announced of the death in action at the Dardanelles on August 10, of Captain Douglas P. Robathan, of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion Welsh Regiment. Captain Robathan was the son of the late Dr. Robathan, of Risca, and Mrs. Robathan, of Ovid House, Raydr. Captain Robathan was formerly engineer and assistant manager of the Tarreni Collieries and during his residence in this district became well known and deeply respected. He was particularly interested in local sport, and was generally regarded as a cricket enthusiast, having played for Swansea. He was half-brother to Colonel Wilkie, of the Bantams, and brother of Captain Frank Robathan, of the Army Service Corps, and of Mr Eric Robathan, who came over with the Canadians and is now spending a brief furlough at Radyr. Two other brothers are Mr Percival Robathan, chartered accountant, Cardiff, and Mr Lionel Robathan, master of Llandaff Cathedral School.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 11th September 1915:-

In connection with the lamented death of Capt. Robathan, of the 5th Welsh, formally surveyor and under manager of the Tarreni Colliery, who as reported in these columns, was recently killed in the Dardanelles, a private in his regiment, writes as follows:
"He was one of the finest soldiers that ever lived. He led his men into one of the fiercest fights that have ever been fought on Gallipoli Peninsula. He was loved by his men and admired by all. He fought as gallantly as any as long as he was able to lead, and I am expressing the thoughts of all the battalion when I say it has lost one of its best soldiers."

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 4th December 1915 :-

From Corporal J. Thomas, 1-5th Welsh Regiment, who has just returned to his home at Berry Square, Dowlais, after being wounded in the Dardanelles, we now learn how Captain Rowbotham, late surveyor at Tarreni Collieries, and commanding A Company, Pontypridd, met his fate on the Gallipoli Peninsula. After landing at Suvla Bay in the dead of night the British troops were subjected to a hail of shrapnel and Maxim gun fire, and subsequently in an attack on the Turkish lines Captain Rowbotham was shot by a sniper. The fire, however, was so intense that he could not be rescued, and he was burned to death. Lieut. Phillips of Cardiff was the only officer then left in charge of the company, and he rallied his men with words of encouragement and praise.

Roll of Honour information on Captain Robothan can be read below:-

Captain 1/5th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment

Douglas was the 5th son of the late George Beckett Robathan of the Grove Risca Monmouth, M.R.C.S. engineer. His mother was Frances Elizabeth daughter of the late John Paull of Brockley Somerset.

Born Risca 28/01/1888, educated Llandaff Cathedral School and Cranbrook School Kent. He joined the Monmouth Volunteers as a 2nd Lieutenant in January 1908 and was transferred to the 5th Welsh Territorials April 1909. He passed the School of Instruction and obtained his certificate as a Musketry Instructor 1909; became Lieut. 07/04/1909 and Captain 1st July 1914. He volunteered for foreign service after the outbreak of war; left England with the 53rd Welsh Division, 18/07/1915 for the Dardanelles; took part in the landing at Savla Bay 9th August and was killed in action there the following day. His Colonel wrote of him as "Devoted to his duty and always to be relied on" and a brother officer said that when wounded "lying on the ground he still cheered his men on - Stick it Welsh, he shouted, and kept on shouting until another bullet came along and got him in the lung. He died the best death any man could die and as game as possible.

A private also wrote, "He led his men into one of the fiercest fights that has ever been fought on Gallipoli Peninsula. He was loved by his men and admired by all. He fought as gallantly as any as long as he was able to lead and I am expressing the thoughts of all Battalions when I say it has lost one of its best soldiers.

Ystalyfera - South Wales

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