Lord Langford Dies Aged 105
Lord Langford, Bodrhyddan Hall, Rhuddlan, who has died aged 105, was one of Wales’s most colourful characters During the Second World War he was involved in a daring escape from Singapore after the Japanese took control of the island, an adventure described by Ian Skidmore in Escape From the Rising Sun in 1973.
Geoffrey Rowley-Conwy, as he then was, was a captain in the Royal Artillery when first posted to Singapore in 1939. Promoted to major in 1941, when the Japanese invaded the following year he was in command of an anti-aircraft battery which saw action against enemy bombers.
On one occasion he was reprimanded for wasting ammunition after he used his guns to knock Japanese mortar battery spotters out of a palm tree (together with its coconuts) on the opposite side of the Johore Straits, an escapade which made him popular with his men.
The only son of two children born to MajorSeymour Rowley-Conwy (1877 – 10 August 1915), who was killed in action at Gallipoli, and Bertha Gabrielle Cochran,JP(1880–1984), Langford was educated at Marlborough College Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. Commissioned a second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery 1 September 1932, he was promoted to lieutenant 1 September 1935 and to captain 1 September 1940.
He served as an army officer with the Royal Artillery in World War II, being captured at the Japanese taking of Singapore 1942, but escaping, before seeing further active service in Burma. In May 1943, by then a temporarymajor, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), for distinguished service in the South-West Pacific theatre. reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1945, and was promoted to the substantive rank of major on 1 July 1946.1 April 1954, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and retired from the regular army on 31 December 1957.He was appointed an Honorary Colonel in 1967.
He married, firstly, Ruth St John Murphy (died 1991), on 24 January 1939. She was the daughter of Albert St John Murphy and Rose Davis, of The Island House, Little Island, County Cork, Ireland. They divorced in 1956. They had no children.
He married, secondly, Grete von Freiesleben (11 September 1922 – 16 January 1973), on 7 February 1957. She was the daughter of Colonel Erik Theodor Christian von Freiesleben, of Hjortekaer, Kongens Lyngby, Copenhagen, Ch Kings's Adj's Staff to His Majesty The King of Denmark. They had three children and seven grandchildren:
He married, thirdly, Susan Winifred Denham, daughter of Cyril Henry Charles Denham,
of Wrexham, Denbighshire, Wales, on 3 February 1975. Lady Langford is a patron of St Kentigern Hospice,St Asaph. They have two children:
He inherited the Bodrhyddan estate in Rhuddlan, on the death of his unmarried and childless paternal uncle Captain Grenville Rowley-Conwy RNCMG April 1951 and succeeded to the baronetcy as the ninth holder of the title on the death of his childless second cousin once removed Arthur Sholto Langford Rowley, 8th Baron Langford in August 1953. He was Constable of Rhuddlan Castle Lord of the Manor Rhuddlan.
His heir is his third son from his second marriage, Hon Owain Grenville Rowley-Conwy (born 1958).