Peasants to Puddles
My Family History - By Nicky Rowberry
Harold Ivus Lowth - Private 203188
This page is dedicated to the memory of Harold Ivus Lowth who died on 27th December 1917 in Belgium.
Harold Ivus Lowth died on 27th December 1917 in Belgium while fighting for the Duke of Wellington Regiment. He was sadly one of the casualties amongst the millions of men who lost their lives in World War 1. It seemed sad for him to have died and all but these bare facts remembered, so I've tried to find out at least a little about his life before his untimely death aged just 25.
Harold was born on 1892 in Carlton Scroop, Lincolnshire, the youngest child of William Lowth and Julia Magners (or Magness). His father William Lowth had been a professional soldier in the Cheshire Regiment and had met and married Harold's mother Julia when serving in Ireland in 1873. By 1891 William had retired from the army and the family had settled in Carlton Scroop, Lincolnshire. In 1901, the family were still in Carlton Scroop with 5 of the children, including Harold, still at home. Sadly just a couple of years later, Harold's father William Lowth was killed when he fell off a cart and was run over. Harold's older brother James was travelling with him at the time and witnessed the accident. The clipping below shows part of the article in the Grantham Journal from 25th July 1903. (Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk). Click www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk to see the full page from the newspaper.
By 1911 the widowed Julia Lowth was living in Grantham, with one son, a married daughter and 2 grandchildren. Harold Lowth was working as a waggoner on a farm in nearby Metheringham. War of course broke out in 1914 and at some point Harold must have joined the Duke of Wellington's Regiment. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website confirms that he was a Private in the 1st/4th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. I can't reproduce the CWGC photo of the cemetery, but to see his page please click here.
By 1916 Harold's mother Julia had to suffer knowing that all of her 6 sons had signed up. Sadly she lost one son (Frank) within the first few months of the war, which must have greatly added to her fear for the other five. The image below shows a small article in the Grantham Journal from April 1916, describing Julia Lowth's pride in her 6 sons who served in WW1. (Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk). Click www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk to see the full page from the newspaper. Unfortunately the newspaper report is not particularly accurate for Harold, getting both his middle name and his regiment wrong!
You can now look at the Medal Roll cards from the first world war online. These show a soldier's name, rank and what medals they were entitled to. Due to copyright issues, I don't think I can reproduce the image of the medal card, so instead I've transcribed it. Harold Lowth's card is only very sparsely filled in, giving little more than his name, rank and number.
|Louth||W Rid R||Pte||203188|
|Harold. I.|| || || |
|STAR|| || || |
| || |
|Theatre of War first served in|| |
|Date of entry therein|| |
The index card indicates that he would have been entitled to two medals. The British Medal was awarded to servicemen who served in a theatre of war between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. The Victory Medal (Allied Victory Medal) was awarded for service in any operational theatre over the same time frame. He wasn't however eligible for the Star Medal, suggesting he did not sign up until 1916 or later. The medal card also doesn't mention that he won the Military Medal.
Harold's army service record does not seem to have survived (many WW1 service records were destroyed in a bombing raid in WW2), so I don't know exactly when he joined up or details of his military career. But you can now look at the War Diaries for individual regiments from WW1. War Diaries were kept as a daily record of operations, intelligence reports and anything else that was going on for a given battalion. So in the absence of Harold's service records, I've looked at the war diaries for more information. Men of the ordinary ranks rarely got mentioned by name in these war diaries, but the commander of the Harold's unit was unusual in that he did mention these men by name if something noteworthy occurred. So Harold gets mentioned twice in August 1917 - for being wounded in action and for being awarded the Military Medal for gallantry whilst wounded. The following are extacts from the handwritten notes that make up the war diary.
There is a book called "The History of the 1/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment 1914-1919" which gives a lot of detail about their part in the war. In it, the author describes the night of 16th Augist 1917, when high explosives and gas shells rained down on the battalion. It was during this bombardment that Harold apparently earned high commendations from the Royal Fusiliers who were taking over the line. He was charged with the job of guiding the incoming troops and remained at his duty, even though he was wounded in the chest. He didn't report to the Aid Post until those he was responsible for were safely in position.
Although he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in August, it wasn't made official until it was published in the London Gazette in October 1917. It was subsequently reported in the Leeds Mercury (strangely I've not managed to find a report of his medal in any of the Lincolnshire papers that month). (Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).
Harold was wounded on 16th August 1917 with gunshot wound to chest but discharged back to duty by 30th August. This seems a very short time to recuperate from such an injury and indicates how desperate the army must have been for men to keep fighting. Harold may have survived this injury but he wasn't to be so lucky a second time. By the winter of 1917 the area was frosty and covered in snow and with a full moon the nights were very bright (the men wore white overalls to disguise them in the snow when on patrol). Christmas Day was spent on the front line. The war diaries for later that year show that he was injured again on 27th December and later died of his wounds.
Harold's death was reported in the Grantham Journal. (Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).
The last piece of evidence for Harold is the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects. His mother Julia Lowth is listed as the sole beneficiary of what little money he had (just £6.13.01), plus the War Gratuity of £8. Not much to show for his bravery and sacrifice.
In the end, of Julia's 6 boys it may be that only 3 survived the war; the eldest, Thomas Lowth, who also served in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, George Henry Lowth who served with the Lincolnshire Regiment and Issachar Lowth who served with the Sherwood Foresters. Andrew Lowth, who was also serving with the Royal Marine Light Infantry, is said to be missing in the above article; I've not found a report of his death either during the war, nor after it, so it's a bit of a mystery what happened to him. I hope that means he survived too. The remaining son James Francis Alexander Lowth died early on in the war when his ship the HMS Aboukir was torpedoed in the North Sea. You can read his story here.
I haven't managed to find Harold's name on any war memorials back in England. He was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium. His Military Medal is recorded on his gravestone.
A few years ago, Harold Lowth's medals were up for sale on an internet site. Unfortunately they were way too expensive for me to be able to afford to buy them, but I did manage to download this image of the three medals. I hope they've gone to a good home.
Unfortunately I haven't found a photo of Harold yet. It would be lovely to complete Harold's story by finding a photo of him, so if anyone has one, please do get in touch. email@example.com
In researching Harold's final days, several sites have been invaluable, so I've included links to some of them here.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
The National Archives at Kew:
The British Newspaper Archive:
If any of the above is of further interest, please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Nicky Rowberry 2017
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Peasants to Puddles - My Family History. By Nicky Rowberry