1. Memorial:West Woodhay (St. Lawrence) ChurchyardSE Corner
2. Book:The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918Pg.119
3. Memorial:The (1940) Scroll - WW1 Roll of Honour31B GQS

Awards & Titles:

Companion of The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael & St. George
Distinguished Service Order

Family :

Born at Arrochar, 17 September 1872, son of Hugh Cowie, QC, JP. Husband of Victoria Alexandrina Cowie, of Varhn, Studland, Dorset eldest daughter of Sir Howard Elphinstone, VC KCB CMG.

Education & Career :

Charterhouse & Sandhurst

Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: 1/Dorset Regiment 

1st Battalion August 1914 : in Belfast. Part of 15th Brigade in 5th Division. Landed at Le Havre 16 August 1914. 31 December 1915 : transferred to 95th Brigade in 32nd Division. 7 January 1916 : transferred to 14th Brigade in same Division.

Action : The Battles of Ypres 1915 (Second Ypres) 

22 April - 25 May 1915. On the 22nd April 1915 the Germans used poison gas at Ypres. This was the first 'official' use of gas and took the Allies by surprise. After initial success capitalising on the confusion and horror of this weapon, a heroic stand, initially by the Canadians and then supported by British and Indian Battalions, held the German advance. However it became clear that the Germans had achieved a tactical advantage and eventually the British were forced to retire to more a more defendable perimeter closer to Ypres. These positions were on the last ridges before Ypres and their loss would have resulted in the loss of the town and possibly open the Channel coast to German occupation with disastrous consequences for the re-supply of the BEF.

He was educated at Charterhouse and Sandhurst, and joined the Dorsetshire Regiment, 18 May 1892, becoming Lieutenant 28 August 1894. He served in the Tirah Expedition in 1897-98, being present at the actions of Chagra Kotal and Dargai, and the capture of Sampagha and Arhanga Passes. Reconnaissance of the Saran Sar and action of 16 November 1897. Operations in the Waran Valley and action of 16 November 1897. Operations in the Bara Valley 7 to 14 December 1897 (Medal with two clasps). He served in the South African War, 1899-1900; operations in Natal, 1899, including operations at Elandslaagte, Rietfontein and Lombard's Kop. In the Defence of Ladysmith, including the sortie of 7 December 1899) and action of 6 January 1900; operations in the Transvaal, east of Pretoria, July to 29 November 1900, including actions of Belfast (26 and 27 August) and Lydenberg 5 to 8 September. He was mentioned in Despatches (Sir R H Buller, 13 September and 9 November 1900 [London Gazette, 8 February 1901]): received the Queen's Medal with three clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 19 April, 1901]: "Hugh Norman Ramsay Cowie, Captain, Dorsetshire Regiment. In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa". The Insignia, etc, were sent to the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, and presented by the Duke of Cornwall and York 14 August 1901. He had become Captain 13 June, 1900. From 5 June, 1901 to 17 February 1904, he was Adjutant, Volunteers, and he was Adjutant, Dorsetshire Regiment from 9 September 1904 to 22 January 1905, when he went to the Staff College. He was DAQMG, Headquarters, South Africa, 20 April, 1907 to 1909; from 1909 to 1911 a Staff Captain at the War Office, and from 1912-14 Commander of a Company of Gentlemen Cadets at Sandhurst. In 1914 he was appointed Commandant of the 1st School of Instruction in France. He was created a CMG Major Cowie died on 20 May 1915, of wounds received whilst in command of the 1st Battalion of his regiment.

Detail :

COWIE, H N R, Major, 1/Dorset Regiment During 1st May 1915 a gas attack was made against Hill 60. The hill was held by 1/Dorsets under Major H N R Cowie. About 7PM after severe bombardment the Germans from less than 100 Yards released gas on a front of a quarter of a mile. It shot over in thick volumes so quickly that few men had time to adjust their extemporised respirators. As soon as the cloud reached the Dorsets trenches the enemy opened fire, attacked both flanks of the battalion with bombing parties and concentrated the guns to form a barrage on the approaches to the hill. A few of the Dorsets, all suffering from gas, jumped on to the firestep and opened fire. Support units were brought up and the Germans driven out from the initial footing they had gained. The Dorsets suffered heavily. 90 men died in the trenches from gas poisoning. Of 207 that made it to dressing stations, 58 died in dreadful suffering. During this action Private E Warner (1/Bedfordshire) was awarded a posthumous VC. Interestingly the official history tells that Major Cowie was mortally wounded at 6AM on 5th May during the action in which Hill 60 was lost to the Germans. It seems that he was recovered to hospital in the UK and died 15 days later, hence his burial in St Laurence Church.

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Anchor of Hope No. 1093 E.C.Madras
Joined : Wellesley No. 1899 E.C. Berkshire
Joined : Khyber No. 582 E.C. London

31st August 1895
18th September 1895

Joined Wellesley Lodge No. on 2nd December 1913 from Lodge 582.

Source :

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Additional Source:

Last Updated: 2017-10-07 15:38:05