16414 Pte William Matthew LOWERY 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Killed In Action France and Flanders 26th September 1917.
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William was born at Chapeltown, South Yorkshire in May 1895. He lived at 99 Thorncliffe Row (Avenue), Chapeltown, South Yorkshire with his parents Pherris and Annie LOWERY. He also had 4 brothers and 3 sisters, at the time of his enlistment these were Samuel 29yrs, James 21yrs, Thomas 18yrs, Walter 14yrs, Margaret 22yrs, Mabel 12yrs and Barbara 11yrs.
The address no longer exists as demolition took place to allow redevelopment of the area for commercial enterprise.
On the 6th January 1915 William enlisted into the army at Sheffield at the age of 19yrs, at which time he gives his occupation as bricklayer.
Williams career as a soldier began with the 8th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers. He entered France on 20th September 1915 where he remained until 13th November 1915 when he left for the Mediterranean theatre on 14th November 1915 and he stayed there until 20th October 1916.
As was common in this theatre William contracted malaria, he received treatment during July 1916 at Salonika and Malta.
Between 21st October 1916 and 29th July 1917 his time was spent home in the UK.
In February of 1917 William transferred to the Machine Gun Corps where he was allocated service number 95085. In June 1917 he transferred back to the Royal Scots Fusiliers, allocated service number 30266 and was attached to 3rd Battalion and on the 30th July 1917 was transferred to 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers as a gunner and re-entered the Western theatre of France.
In September 1917 preparations were made to launch an offensive against the area of Polygon Wood and Hill 40 in the Zonnebeke area of Ypres.
The 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers as part of the 8th Brigade were to take part in the assault on Hill 40 along with elements of the 7th Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, 8th East Yorks, and the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers.
On the 24th September 1917 the Battalion marched to Brandhoek and entrained on the 25th arriving at Ypres, they then took an evening march to the forming up point on the Zonnebeke – Ypres Road and then moved into the assembly positions by 3am on the morning of 26th September. During this the enemy shelled the forming up area causing the death of 3 men and wounding another 7.
The strength of the 1st battalion at the outset of this offensive was 24 officers and 687 other ranks.
The above map is a photo of the actual map carried into battle by Captain Stuart REVELS ‘A’ Coy 1st Batt Royal Scots Fusiliers. This was provided by his grandson and is published with his permission.
The objective of ‘A’ and ‘C’ Coy 1st RSF is the black line.
The objective of ‘B’ and ‘D’ Coy 1st RSF is the purple line.
At 5.50am on the morning of 26th September 1917 British artillery began to lay down a creeping barrage behind which our troops advanced in waves of 70 yards seperation. The 8th East yorks and 2nd Royal Scots objective was the green line. By 7.30am they halted here as the 1st Royal Scots and 7th KSLI passed through them. The barrage was now to remain on the red line for 41 minutes to cover their advance. It was reported at this stage that the commanding officer Colonel TEACHER DSO had been fatally wounded. By 9.45am ‘A’ , ‘B’ , ‘C’ and ‘D’ Coy’s were holding their objective, the black line. Several machine gun positions were set up around Hill 40 to consolidate the position. The battalion had taken a very heavy toll in officers and other ranks. At 5.30pm orders were received to continue the advance to the blue line but unfortunately this did not allow enough time for the orders to be disseminated to the troops as Zero hour was 6.30pm. When our artillery opened up only small groups of men advanced with their remaining officers. The enemy laid down a barrage of artillery and launched a counter attack which failed under our own artillery. Our men retired back to our lines but there was confusion as for unknown reasons some companies continued to retire off Hill 40. Order was partially restored by 2 of the remaining officers who stood firm, these being Capt Stuart REVELS and Capt W. ORR. Between them and the tenacity of a few N.C.O’s they were able to bring the retiring troops under control and form a line about 200yards West of Hill 40. For the remainder of the night and through the next day the enemy laid down artillery fire on our lines and reoccupied area of Hill 40. At 5pm on 27th September Capt ORR moved the men to a line 250 yards West of the road running from Zonnebeke Station to allow an artillery barrage of Hill 40 and no sooner than these troops had moved that the enemy laid down artillery on the positions they had vacated and counter attacked. The attack failed again under our artillery fire and the enemy were not able to penetrate any part of the Royal Scots Fusiliers line. On the 28th the battalion was relieved by the Kings Liverpool Regiment.
The war diary of the 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers reports the following
Officers dead x 6 Officers wounded x 10
Other ranks dead x 53 wounded x 317 missing x 67
Final figures are subsequently known to be
Officers dead x 8 Wounded x 8 Other Ranks dead x 131 Wounded x 306
The operation report ends by saying ” I am indebted to Captain’s W. ORR and S. REVELS for their valuable services throughout the operation. They commanded their companies with great skill and determination ‘.
Below are 4 original pre – operation arial photographs of the area. These were provided to me again by the grandson of Captain Stuart REVELS.
16414 Pte William Matthew LOWERY Royal Scots Fusiliers is remembered at the Tyne Cot memorial.
Family grave found in Chapeltown/Burncross cemetery
His name appears on the war memorial located within the Cowley Lane park, Chapeltown, Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT
NO ONE ASSAILS ME WITHOUT IMPUNITY