Arthur S. Rowse

  • Staff Sergeant
  • WW II


Arthur Stephen Rowse was born in 1924 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He was the son of Stephen and Cassie Rowse. He was a 1941 graduate of Woonsocket High School. Arthur was an outstanding student and active in many activities during high school. He entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1941 with the class of 1945 and participated in the Army ROTC program for one year. Like so many of his classmates, Arthur left RISC after one year and enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces on 16 October 1942.

Private Arthur S. Rowse graduated from the five week U.S. Army Air Force Basic Training at Keesler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi, and the six-week Arial Gunnery School, Harlingen Army Air Field, Harlingen, Texas, where he was awarded his “Gunners Wings” upon graduation in June 1943. Private Rowse was assigned to the 885th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group 15th Air Force, Mediterranean Theater of Operations, Grottaglie, Italy. The 885th Bomber Squadron engaged primarily in strategic bombardment of targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Hungary. The 885th flew over 250 combat missions from January 1944 until May 1945.

The 885th provided very vital support to the allies by destroying aircraft manufacturing and oil-producing facilities of the enemy. On the morning of 15 March 1945, Staff Sergeant Arthur Stephen Rowse, flying door gunner in a B-24 Liberator, left the base at Grottaglie, Italy, with a large flight of the 885th Bomber Squadron 449th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force headed toward enemy positions in Northern Italy. The formation encountered heavy flak approaching the target area, and Staff Sergeant Rowse’s B-24 Liberator was hit by the flak and crashed. SSgt. Rowse, along with the remaining crewmembers, perished in the crash.

Staff Sergeant Rowse was initially listed as Missing in Action. The Army Air Forces later declared SSgt Rowse as Killed in Action. SSgt. Arthur S. Rowse is listed on a plaque which hangs in the University of Rhode Island Memorial Union honoring fallen students/graduates during World War II. For his actions, SSgt. Arthur S. Rowse was posthumously awarded the Air Medal and Purple Heart Medal. His conspicuous gallantry in action was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army Air Forces and reflected great credit upon himself, his family and Rhode Island State College.

SSgt. Arthur S. Rowse’s remains were returned home, and he was laid to rest in Union Cemetery, North Smithfield, Rhode Island with full military honors. He was a son of Rhode Island State College who answered the call to service during World War II and gave his life in service to the State of Rhode Island and our country. He was another member of the “Greatest Generation.”