Rowland Murray Wilson-Brown, born on 14th February 1897, was admitted to King Edward’s School in January 1912, having transferred from Solihull Grammar School where he had been a boarder. Whilst at KES, he lived with his father, Arthur, a manufacturer, his mother, Camilla, and his sister on Manor Road, Sutton Coldfield.
Rowland was in the Classical School, studying a primarily classical, rather than scientific, curriculum. He was an above average performer overall, with his strongest subjects being French and German. He was also a successful athlete, coming 1st in the 120 yards hurdle race in 1915. His opponent, DLL Craig, who finished second, went on to win the Military Cross and lose his life at Ypres in 1917. He was a formidable gymnast too, coming 1st in the school Gymnastics Open Championship for three years running, and he also played for the 1st XI cricket team. He participated in the School musical, which took the form of a minstrel show in costume, singing “humorous songs”. After leaving School, Rowland kept up his sporting interests as a member of the Sutton Coldfield Swimming Club and the Birmingham Dolobran Athletics Club.
At the outbreak of war, Rowland worked for a short time at the Daimler Works in the Aerodrome Department before being gazetted as a Second Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Corps. He gained his wings on 26th January 1916 in a Maurice Farman Biplane at the Military School, Ruislip, becoming a Flying Officer with No. 2 Squadron, 1st Wing. Rowland was wounded and captured by the Germans, dying at German 5 Corps dressing station on 21st July 1916, aged nineteen. A colleague, in a letter to Rowland’s parents, states that he went up on a bombing raid on 21st July and did not return, but when last seen was descending with his machine under control. He is buried at Vis-en-Artois Communal Cemetery and is commemorated on the Sutton Coldfield War Memorial.