Military Funerals

Funerals for Veterans and the Armed Forces with Rowland Brothers

Rowland Brothers are dedicated to honouring those who have served our countries and put their lives on the line for the United Kingdom.

We are proud of the men and women who have sworn allegiance to the Queen and are committed to honouring these Veterans to the best of our ability.

We work efficiently and compassionately to deliver a personal day that honours the formal requirements of the service while assisting the family with the many regulatory procedures included in service personnel funerals.

For instance, the Union Flag draped over the coffin, a wreath from their parent Regiment or Royal British Legion, Standard Bearers, Last Post and Reveille played are traditions carried out at no extra cost to families.

Veteran Funeral Service
Military Certificate Signing

The Armed Forces Covenant

The government published the Armed Forces Covenant in 2011 setting out the relationship between the nation, the armed forces and the government the same year Croydon became the first London borough to sign a Community Covenant.

Rowland Brothers are proud to be the first funeral directors in the Country to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, showing our commitment to supporting those who service men and women and their families.

Silver Award Holders

We’re delighted to have received the Silver award for the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme.

At Rowland Brothers we recognise the skills and talent service personnel can bring to our organisation.

If you’d like to apply for a career with us, find our current vacancies on the careers page.

Our Story

The Rowland Family have a history of serving their country, the reason such a strong esprit de corps persists at the firm.

Director, Tony Rowland’s Great Grandfather was Admiral Reed, the captain of the last sailing warship in the British Royal Navy. During his illustrious career, Reed mapped the China Sea.

Throughout the generations, the Rowland Brothers continued to serve their country.

Mr Rowland Snr

Clarence Arthur Nelson Rowland (Arthur)

Arthur joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1939 when war broke out. He was sent to the Middle East and saw service in El Alamein in 1942. He was demobbed in 1945.

Photo of Uncle Jim

James William Rowland (Jim)

Jim joined in 1942 also into the Royal Army Medical Corps. Jim took part in the D-Day landings in 1944 and was also demobbed in 1945.

Photo of Tony Rowland

Anthony Rowland (Tony)
Director of Rowland Brothers

Tony completed his national service in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. He joined on 21st March 1957 and was demobbed on 19th March 1959. Tony was a Lance Corporal, Camp Carpenter and a Regimental Drill Instructor.

Our Staff Who Have Served

Rowland Brothers are proud to be part of the Armed Forces covenant and were the first funeral directors in the country to do so, pledging our ongoing support to British servicemen and the community.

Harry Humphreys
Driver & Bearer

Ex-Royal Green jackets, Royal Corps of Transport, London ambulance service, paramedic and air ambulance.

Brian Freeman
Funeral Arranger

Ex-Royal Military Police

Neil Athron
Business Development Manager

Ex-Royal Air Force Regiment

Colin Walker
Chauffeur Bearer

Ex-Royal Regiment Fusiliers

Robert Cook
Funeral Director and Area Manager

Ex-Royal Engineers

Military Services We’ve Conducted

We’re proud to say we’ve conducted and organised a diverse range of veterans funerals, honouring them with the fitting traditions, ceremonies and tributes.

We’ve scattered the ashes of an ex-Royal Navy wren from the HMS Belfast, used the same gun carriage that was used to carry Lord Mountbatten in our veteran’s funerals, giving them the recognition and service they deserve.

The veterans we’ve carried our funerals for include:

  • Royal Navy
  • Royal Marines
  • Royal Scots Royal Regiment
  • Royal Artillery
  • World War 2 Special Forces Phantom
  • Royal Air Force
  • Grenadier Guards
  • Ambulance Service
  • Police and Fire Service

If you’d like to enquire about our Military Funeral Service, please get in touch.

Contact us

Family Stories

Jones – Royal Corps of Transport and Royal Logistic Corps

Jones was a 6-year veteran of the RCT and RLC. Vivian was a Lieutenant and is a veteran of the first Gulf War in 1991. He passed at the age of 56 with no family and no friends. The military preparation college of training carried the coffin, 3 standard bears were in attendance, Royal British Legion Riders escorted the cortege and a serving bugler from the Scots guards played the last post. SSAFA covered the cost of the funeral.

Peggy – Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service

Peggy was a veteran of WW2 in the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS). Not a lot was known about her service career apart from she spent some time during the war working in Handel Street central London which is now the London RAF recruitment centre, she was also posted to Guildford where the wounded RAF personnel were taken to recuperate. She had the last post, standard bearers and the commanding officer from PMRAFNS in attendance.

Dave – Metropolitan Police

Dave was an ex Metropolitan Police officer. He joined the Police at 19 in 1966. In 1975 he came off a roof while he was chasing a burglar and was impaled on spikes and was paralysed from the waist down. In 1975 a year later he joined police Staff as a Finance and Resource Manager at Brixton. During the 90’s he was awarded an MBE following his service in the 1995 Riot. Dave joined Bromley police Station in 1998 and was promoted to Business Manager. The funeral had police outriders, a guard of honour and the Police helicopter paying tribute to his 48 years’ service.

Edward – 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force

At St Christopher’s church was the funeral of ex Flt Sgt Edward McRae aged 93 a veteran of 50 Squadron RAF Bomber Command he volunteered in 1944 he was the mid upper gunner in a Lancaster he completed 19 missions over Europe.

Crash report from the War Office 1945:

Ferry flight in connection with Operation EXODUS
50 Squadron, RAF (Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire – 5 Group)

Lancaster I PD339/J – took off (from Wing, Buckinghamshire?) at about 1640 and 15 minutes later south of Northampton hit a tree while turning steeply to avoid cables, crashed on 26/04/1945 and burned out on Hardingstone Lodge Farm. Of the seven crew only the two RAF air gunners survived, injured. The four RNZAF airmen were buried on 2 May at Botley, just west of Oxford. Operation EXODUS involved a large-scale airlift to repatriate some 75,000 recently liberated British prisoners of war from Continental airfields to Britain. Lost on the first day of the 12-day operation, it is believed that PD339 was returning to its base after transporting one of the first batches of prisoners from Brussels to Wing Airfield Buckinghamshire.

Crew are:

  • F/O C J Evans RNZAF (killed)
  • Sgt D H Millichip (killed)
  • F/S T R THWAITES RNZAF (killed)
  • F/S R F Carrodus RNZAF (killed)
  • F/S I J Loveridge RNZAF(killed)
  • Sgt E R McRae (survived)
  • Sgt G A Fuller (survived)

Walter – Royal Artillery

Walter was as an ex-serviceman who was a member of the Royal Artillery. We were told it was a social services funeral. AND he only had two friends. With the help of Veterans we sent him off on his final march in honor. There were two standard bearers from the Royal British Legion and 7 Bikers from the Royal British Legion Riders; they paged the hearse into the Crematorium. They stated “We heard there was a lone soldier’s funeral with no friends or family. We are his family.”

Ronald – Royal Marine

Ronald, a world war two Royal Marine veteran. He was sent into action in Norway at the start of the war and returned with many of his comrades dead or injured. He was then sent to Scotland to become one of the first Royal Marine commandos.

Charles – Royal Air Force

Charles served in the Second World War as a blacksmith in the Royal Air Force working on aircraft repairs. He started at Pembroke in Wales working on flying boats and witnessed a very heavy bombing raid from the Germans causing mass casualties. He was then posted to RAF Kenley and Biggin Hill to work on Hurricanes and Spitfires. Due to the escalation of the battle of Britain he also was witness to friends and colleagues being killed in the German raids. Understandably He did not talk too much about his wartime experience with his family. At the funeral the RAF standard was paraded and the cadets of the Air Training Corps from 97 Squadron formed a guard of honour.

This is a letter from the family – Words cannot express what you organised for dad’s funeral meant to me, family and friends yesterday. You certainly did him proud, I could almost hear him saying “what did you go to all this trouble for?” but secretly loving every moment of it.

Clive – Royal Fusiliers

A veteran of The Royal Fusiliers. This was a social services funeral and at the funeral only 6 people were in attendance. There were three Standard Bearers from the Royal British Legion. In their own words when I thanked them “It’s no more than they deserve mate you know we will attend if we can and that’s 99% off the time”. And “All ex-service men & women surely deserved a fitting & honourable send off when they make the final journey”.

Colin – Royal Artillery

Colin was a veteran of the Royal Artillery 20th Field regiment and was also a veteran of the Korean War. Colin was in his National Service when he went to Korea so he was one of the unlucky ones who went to war many of the others spent their two or three years in the UK peeling potatoes and painting grass green. Colin used to be the standard bearer for the Korean War veterans association but handed the standard back when the association folded as most of the members had passed. He was invited to Korea by the South Korean Government to be honoured and be given thanks for what they did. He was presented with three medals. There were 4 standard bearers at his funeral. 2 from the Royal British Legion, his regiment standard from the Royal Artillery and the Korea War Association Standard was brought out of retirement. Both this and the Artillery standard were carried by Korea Veterans. There were two more veterans marching behind the standards.

The whole of the Military Preparation College of Training came out and performed a guard of honour for Colin.

At the end of the service before the family left the chapel. The Royal Artillery standard bearer stood in the middle, standard in hand, and said, in a clear and loud military voice “once a gunner always a gunner”.

Des – Home Guard, Reconnaissance Regiment, Phantoms

At the outbreak of WW2 Des lied about his age and joined the Home Guard at 13 years old. He became a Sergeant by 15 and was mentioned in dispatches for rescuing people from a bombed building. When he was old enough he joined the Reconnaissance Regiment who were tasked to go to the front line and report back troop movements and advances. He joined the Phantoms which were a top secret unit who operate behind enemy lines. David Niven was also a Phantom. They drop behind enemy lines usually one phantom and one SAS operative. His friend was due to be dropped into France however he became ill, so they sent Des at 17 years old as he was the only one trained. Rules state you have to be at least 18 to go on active service. Hitler sent out a directive that, if any German soldier captured a British soldier with a P (Phantom) on his shoulder. Do not take prisoner. Execute immediately, this was due to their skills of escape and evasion and the knowledge they would have of Axis troops. He was dropped behind Caen before D-day to report on enemy troops. After the landings he witnessed a troop of Canadian soldiers from his observation post being wiped out by friendly fire from American fighter aeroplanes. He carried out two further drops into Belgium and Arnhem. He finished the war on duty at the West German border. To top his heroic career in the war for the first time Des had the honour to lead the parade on Armistice Day on Whitehall in 2015 from the front. There were only five of the phantoms left. Now there are only four, as of May 2016.

Fred – Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal

Fred had been assigned to the Royal Engineers and for his national service where many were cooks or stores man and some were posted overseas into war zones. Fred was Bomb Disposal. It was a very dangerous job indeed. He was based in Liverpool.

During the Second World War when the American bombers returned to England after bombing Germany, if they still had bombs on board them they were not allowed to land with them for safety reasons so they were jettisoned into the Mersey. Fred’s job was to dredge the bombs up and disarm them. He was a very lucky man to have survived his army career. Fred never claimed his National Service Medal one was sourced in a presentation box from a local dealer so he could have it displayed on his coffin. This is now with Fred’s family.

Raymond – Wiltshire Regiment

Raymond was 3 months short of reaching 101 years old when he passed away.

Raymond “Razor” was in the army before the outbreak of World War 2 and he was in India in the Wiltshire Regiment. Upon the outbreak of war, he was sent to Belgium and was part of the British Expeditionary Force, tasked with stopping the Germans. As we all know this went wrong and he was one of the 350,000 soldiers evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk. Razors next action as far as we know was on D Day in France. D Day plus a few days he found himself in a two-man trench with his comrade and they had liberated a couple of bottles of beer from a farm house. They drank them and fell asleep. They were woken up with boots running over their trench and a short while later running back. It was a German attack which was stopped and driven back by the British. Razor ended up in Africa and was separated with his fighting buddy for days. They were out of water and out of food. In military terms, “on their chin straps”. They agreed they would hand themselves in to the first patrol that came across them, German or British they didn’t care, they were on their last legs. A truck came into view, instincts took over and they dived into a ditch. When the truck came closer it had written on the front. “Next stop Croydon”. And out of the cab, a man shouted “Razor!” he was a friend from Croydon before the war. Razor had also saved a soldier from another country in the Allied forces and carried him on his back to an aid station. This soldier, later in life, when Razor was in his 90’s tracked him down to say thank you. Razor had a broken leg during the war and a friend hitch hiked to see him in hospital and sneaked him out in a wheel chair to the pub. After quite a few beers they returned in trouble as a search party was out looking for him. Razor was also captured by the Germans but he managed to escape. We do not know too much of this but in his personal items there were three sets of dog tags which the Germans issued to American prisoners of war. He was bayoneted twice once in the side and once in his arm. He had shrapnel in his body and eventually lost eye at the end of the war in combat. His grandson asked, “him how many Germans had he killed?” he replied. “They were pretty good with their bayonets so I had to use mine and my rifle, so quite a few.”

His coffin was carried by the next generation of the Armed Forces, learners from The Military Preparation College of Training.

Stephen – Royal Engineers

Stephen served in the Royal Engineers from 04/07/1951 as career soldier and he served in the Korean War and Japan. Stephen was demobbed 01/01/1957. After he left the regular Army he was a reservist and was called up to serve again during the Suez Crisis in 1959. He finally left the reserves in 03/07/67 and served a total of 16 years. He was responsible for destroying allied fortifications and installations when the conflicts were over so they could not be utilized against the allied occupation forces. Stephen was also an Army Boxing Champion his campaign medals and boxing medals were displayed on his coffin.

George Parsons-  The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers then 2 Commando

Here is his war story:

“I joined up in 1937, before the war. When I first got called up, I was bored, then things started to brew up a little bit and the Germans invaded Norway and the Lowlands. Churchill had to make some gesture and wanted volunteers for a rapid response unit. I put my name down on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday morning I was in Norway. I had a pretty rough time out there. We landed at Oslo, five independent companies out of 10. Four went a little bit further north and number 5, which was my company, went down south.”

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