Edward McGowan

EDWARD McGOWAN (1887 - 1917)

Edward was born in Manchester. The 1901 Census lists him as living ay 50, Pickford Street in Macclesfield with his father, Peter, grandmother, Margaret Garvey, aunt, Annie Garvey and his twenty three old step-sister Mary Ann. The thirteen year old Edward, like Mary-Ann, worked as a silk cleaner. Edward later worked as an embroiderer for the local firm owned by A. W. Hewetson at the St George's Street Mill.

By the time Edward became a soldier in the Great War he was married to Ellen. Their home address is given as 33, Church Lane, Westhoughton, Bolton. We have no information regarding when they got married or how they came to live in Bolton. There is, however, some evidence that suggests Edward was a member of the Bolton Fire Service.

Edward was a Lance Corporal in the King's Royal Rifle Corp (KRRC). His 'Medal Index Card' shows that he was a member of the 9th Brigade. Having previously served in the army as a Reserve, Edward had been called up on the outbreak of war and posted in France in August 1914. In 1915, following sustaining wounds in his right shoulder, right thigh and elbow, Edward was evacuated back to England and received treatment in a Birmingham hospital. When he was discharged in September 1915, he rejoined his Regiment and spent a short time in Ireland before being posted back to the Western Front.

On 1 August 1916, Edward's Battalion, as part of the 42nd Brigade, 14th (Light) Division, arrived in Fienvillers from the Arras sector. It eventually relieved the 8th Rifle Brigade in Delville Wood on 21 August. The 9th Battalion War Records section of the 1916 KKRC Chronicle records:

"...orders were received for an attack on the 24th, in conjunction with other corps, and with the French...At 3.45 p.m., on the 24th August, a bombardment of our heavy artillery started, which fire was replied to by the Germans. At 5.45p.m. C and D Companies advanced to the attack, and at the same time A Company moved from the support trench (Devil's Help), and re-formed in Devil's Trench, ready to advance. The distance from Devil's Trench to the first objective varied from 250 to 300 yards. The ground was pitted with innumerable shell holes, and obstructed with the debris of fallen trees, necessitating a slow advance. Immediately the barrage lifted, and our assaulting troops climbed over the parapet. The enemy's artillery fire became intense, and machinegun and rifle fire was opened on them, causing many casualties...On the right of Edge Trench, the enemy's wire remained to form a considerable obstacle, and the remains of C Company were unable to gain an entrance into the trench..The attack was now entirely held up by wire, machine-gun and rifle fire - particularly from an enemy strong point situated in Edge Trench, which was found afterwards not to have been seriously damaged by shell fire.

And thus once more the gallant 9th Battalion did what they were told to do, with credit to themselves; and the bloodshed by those brave riflemen who lost their lives for King and Country, will further serve to enhance the good name of a Battalion, jealous of its reputation, and of the honour of the Regiment to which it is proud to belong."

The losses suffered by the Battalion during the operations on 20 August were severe. Almost fifty men were killed; one of these men was the twenty nine year old Edward.

Lance Corporal Edward McGowan has no known resting place. His name appears on the Tyne Cot Memorial, West Vlaanderen, Belgium.

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