|1. Grave:||Dantzig Alley British Cemetery||VII. U. 6. Mametz|
|2. Book:||The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918||Pg.119|
|3. Memorial:||The (1940) Scroll - WW1 Roll of Honour||37D GQS|
|4. Memorial:||Liverpool Masonic Hall War Memorial||Col.1. Hope St.|
Awards & Titles:
|1914-15 Star |
British War Medal
Early Life :The majority of this legend is courtesy of Geoff Cuthill of the Province of West Lancashire, to whom the project is grateful.
Arthur was born on 16 May 1887 and baptised on 1 June at Christ Church, Everton, his parents John and Mary Jane Cowley (nee Brown) who had married on New Year’s Eve 1871 and now living at 6 Arnot Street, Walton., and still there at the time of the 1891 census return.
In 1901 the family lived at 105 Walton Road, Mary Jane shown as a widow and head of the house, seven of her children being with her, including 13 year old Arthur. The 1911 census shows Arthur’s mother living at 2 Beverley Road, New Ferry, Cheshire with her son Alfred age 18 and grandson Arthur Edwin age 4 who had been born at Newport Monmouthshire. The census also says that she had ten children, eight still living.
A couple of month after the 1911 census was taken Arthur is initiated into Cycling and Athletic Lodge while employed by the White Diamond Steamship Company as Chief Steward aboard the “S.S. Sagamore” which operated on the Liverpool to Boston route. In 1912 the company was re-named as the George Warren and Company Shipping Line. The vessel which had been built in 1892 at Harland and Wolff, Belfast was lost on 3 March 1917 (9 month after Arthur’s death) when it was torpedoed with the loss of fifty-two lives on a return voyage to Liverpool.
- The First World War 1914-1918, World-wide.
|Unit / Ship / Est.: 18/The King's (Liverpool Regiment)|
18th (Service) Battalion (2nd City) Formed in Liverpool on 29 August 1914 by Lord Derby, in the old watch factory at Prescot. 30 April 1915 : attached to 89th Brigade, 30th Division. Landed at Boulogne in November 1915. 25 December 1915 : transferred to 21st Brigade in same Division. 24 September 1917 : Battalion absorbed 16 officers and 290 men of the 1/1st Lancashire Hussars. This had previously been the VIII Corps Cavalry Regiment. Battalion became 18th (Lancashire Hussars Yeomanry) Battalion. 11 February 1918 : transferred to 89th Brigade in same Division. 14 May 1918 : reduced to cadre strength. 19 June 1918 : attached to 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division. 13 August 1918 : absorbed 14th Battalion and reformed. 19 september 1918 : attached to 199th Brigade in same Division.
|Action : The Battles of the Somme 1916|
The Battle of the Somme 1st July - 18th November 1916 is inevitably characterised by the appalling casualties (60,000) on the first day, July 1st 1916. Having failed to break through the German lines in force, and also failed to maximise opportunities where success was achieved, the battle became a series of attritional assaults on well defended defence in depth. The battle continued officially until 18th November 1916 costing almost 500,000 British casualties. German casualties were about the same, and French about 200,000. The Somme could not be counted a success in terms of ground gained or the cost, but it had a strategic impact as it marked the start of the decline of the German Army. Never again would it be as effective whilst the British Army, learning from its experience eventually grew stronger to become a war winning army. The German High Command recognised that it could never again fight another Somme, a view that advanced the decision to invoke unrestricted submarine warfare in an attempt to starve Britain of food and material, and in doing so accelerated the United States declaration of war thus guaranteeing the eventual outcome. 287 Brethren were killed on the Somme in 1916.
At some time the family moved to 143 Singleton Avenue, Prenton, Cheshire, and Arthur gave up his seagoing career and became employed on the clerical staff at Lever Brothers of Port Sunlight where he was considered by his manager to be a thoroughly reliable and competent employee. He attested at St. George’s Hall, Liverpool, on 3 September 1914, with a number of his co-workers from Lever Brothers, into the 2nd City Battalion, The Liverpool Pals, as Private 16164. This would later be known as 18th Bn. The King’s (Liverpool) Regiment. Arthur was described as 26 years and 110 days of age, five foot and ten inches in height, weighing 165 pounds, with a chest expanded to forty and a half inch, of a fair complexion, with grey eyes and brown hair, and of the Church of England faith.
On the 24 October 1914 he was appointed as Lance Corporal, Corporal on 16 January 1915, Lance Sergeant 30 January then on 13 February 1915 to Sergeant. On 30 April 1915 the Battalion moved to Belton Park near Grantham in Lincolnshire and became part of the 89th Brigade of the 30th Division, eventually taken under control of the War Office on 27 August and moved to Larkhill, Wiltshire, for final training. Arthur embarked with his comrades from Folkestone aboard the “S.S. Invicta” to Boulogne, France on 7 November 1915, and on arrival the 18th transferred to the 21st Brigade of the 30th Division, where the Division was engaged in various actions on the Western front;
The long expected and awaiting “Big Push” had been delayed through the weather but was eventually called to happen on 1 July 1916. The 18 Battalion The King’s were ready, willing and able and strange as it may now seem to us, many of the men were looking forward to getting to grips with the enemy and to ‘put him in his place’. The night before battle the men of Arthur’s battalion stood in a field and sang most heartily the well known song at the time, “They’ll Never Believe Us”, changing some of the words to follow up with “that out of all the world they’ve chosen us”. They had indeed been ‘chosen’, and their first objective for 1 July was to leave the comparative safety of their trench, cross 500 yards of “No Man’s Land” through enemy fire and take the German positions in front of the village of Montauban, these being the Silessia Trench and The Glatz Redoubt.
Incredibly, they achieved their objectives by 8.35 am, a time of 1 hour and 5 minutes, but the casualties were devastating for the battalion, nearly 500 of them being mown down by just one strategically placed German machine gun, covering the ground between the Silesia Trench and Glatz Redoubt. Every officer who had gone over the top that morning was killed or wounded, along with most of their men, and Arthur was one who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
He had served with the colours for a year and 302 days when he fell in action, aged 29 years, on what many call “the blackest day in the history of the British Army” – Saturday 1st July 1916. Of the four battalions of the Liverpool Pals, it was Arthur’s that took the most casualties on the day, being on the left flank of the 30th Division.
Arthur was one of those whose body and found and recovered and he was given a “ shell hole burial” with 18 others, at a place called Squeek Forward Position. After the war it was removed with the others and re-buried he was again laid to rest at the Danzig Alley Cemetery, Mametz in Grave VII.U.6. His headstone bears the crest of Lord Derby, which was used by the Liverpool Pals, the Eagle and Child, or, as it was better known to the men, The Bird and Brat.
Arthur was awarded the 1915 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal with Memorial Plaque. These would all eventually be sent to his mother, who had moved to 32 The Strand, North Williamstown, Melbourne, Australia, to the house of one of her daughters, Mary Clark. Arthur had another two elder married sisters, Agnes Weir, in Tranmere, and Ada Stewart in Birkenhead. Of his elder brothers, John lived at Swanage, and Peter at Newport, while his younger brother Alfred served as a Private 109251, being posted to the Liverpool Scottish on 22 May 1918. He also served with the British Expeditionary Force in France and was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The index to probate and wills has; Cowley, Arthur Edwin of 143 Singleton Ave, Birkenhead, Sergeant in 18th Bn. Of the King’s Liverpool Regiment died 1st July 1916 in France. Administration Chester 2nd December 20th September 1916 to Mary Jane Cowley widow. Effects £194.3s.5d.
Arthur is named on the Port Sunlight War Memorial, which was erected in memory of those from the offices and works of Lever Brothers Limited, and their associated companies overseas, as well as men from the village of Port Sunlight, who laid down their lives in the Great War.
|Type||Lodge Name and No.||Province/District :|
|Mother :||Cycling & Athletic No. 2335 E.C.||West Lancashire|
1st June 1911
7th September 1911
4th January 1912
Discrepancies (Require checks, clarity or further research) :
Arthur Edwin Cowley was initiated into Cycling and Athletic Lodge No 2335 aged 23 years, on the 1 June 1911, his occupation being described as Chief Steward residing at 2 Beverley Road, New Ferry. He was passed to the Second Degree on 7 September 1911 and raised to the degree of Master Mason on 4 January 1912 with his Master Mason Grand Lodge Certificate interestingly shown as issued on 11 February 1911. It is thought this is a clerical error and believed it should have been recorded as 1912.
The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The (UK) National Archives
- Ancestry.co.uk - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History online
- ugle.org.uk - The records of the United Grand Lodge of England including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
- Founder Researchers : Paul Masters & Mike McCarthy
- Researcher : Bruce Littley
Researcher : Geoff Cuthill