Henry Moses COWLEY was born in about 1883 in Rugby. He was the son of Henry Walter [b.c.1863, Clifton] and Anne/ie [b.c.1859, Swinford], née Turland, Cowley.
Their marriage, in late 1882 or early 1883, was registered in Q1, 1883 in Lutterworth [7a, 17] and their first child, Annie E Cowley, was born at Swinford in 1883 – Annie had probably returned home for the first birth. Henry Moses was born in Rugby, two years later, and was baptised on 12 October 1883 at St Andrew’s church, Rugby; his father was a joiner and they were living in South Street, Rugby.
In 1891 the family were living at 3 Alfred Street, Tamworth, probably Henry’s work as a carpenter had taken him there. In 1901, when Henry was about 17 or 18, his father was still a ‘carpenter’; and they were back in Rugby, living at 48 Claremont Road. Henry was a clerk for the railway, and his elder sister Annie was a clerk for the Cooperative Society. By 1911, when Henry was 28, he was still single and an Engineering Clerk for an Electrical Manufacturer. The family were now living at 46 Claremont Rd Rugby. His father was listed as a ‘carpenter and joiner’. His sister was not at home.
Henry’s Service Records survive among the ‘Burnt Records’, however, they are not all legible, but provide some details of the complexity of his military service.
He enlisted at Rugby, and took the oath of attestation at Rugby on 19 November 1915 and this was approved on 23 March 1916. He was then 32 years and three months old, a clerk, and enlisted for ‘Garrison Duty’. He was 5ft 5½ inches tall – and his service reckoned from 22 March 1916 when he now seemed to be 33 years and 90 days old! He had shrunk somewhat and was now only 5ft 4½ inches tall and weighed 122 lbs.
His father, Henry Walter Cowley, is mentioned on Henry’s Service Record, and in 1915, he was nominated as Henry’s next of kin and was then living at 111a Clifton Road, Rugby. However his father’s death, aged 53, was registered in Rugby [6d, 812] in Q4, 1916.
Henry seems to have had various numbers including No.5932 [or indeed No.5931] on forms from 5th Bn., the Royal Warwickshire Regiment [RWarR] and there is also an Army Ordinance Corps document and a Royal Engineers form with Henry’s number as 503775, where he was recorded with ‘trade and special qualifications’ as ‘Proficient’ and a ‘Clerk’. This posting to the Royal Engineers as 503775 is confirmed on his Medal Card.
He did not receive the 1915 Star, which also confirms that he did not go to France until 1916. His Service Record shows that he went to France/Belgium with one of the RWarR Battalions, but the actual date of his embarkation at Southampton and of his subsequent disembarkation cannot be read, but he transferred to the 1st/8th Bn., RWarR on either 14 July 1916 or 31 July 1916.
He suffered some illness and on 25 November 1916 he was at 1/1 SMFA [probably South Midlands Field Ambulance] suffering from Diarrhoea having been admitted to 3CRS on 22 November 1916. He rejoined his unit on 1 December 1916.
He seems to have had a further medical problem and was at ‘CRS IFA’ on 6 April 1917 but was back ‘to Duty’ on 20 April 1917
On 7 June 1917 he was transferred to the 1st/8th Bn. RWarR, which had, on 13 May 1915, become part of the 143rd Brigade in the 48th (South Midland) Division and then on 7 September 1917 he was transferred again to 10th Bn., RWarR, which was in the 57th Brigade in the 19th Division, and was his final Battalion, where he served as No.307605, and this number was used for issuing his medals.
The 10th Bn. RWarR were involved in many of the actions in the 3rd Battle of Ypres in 1917: the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20 – 25 September 1917); the Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September – 3 October 1917); the Battle of Broodseinde (4 October 1917); the Battle of Poelcapelle (9 October 1917) and the First Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917. Presumably Henry took part in and obviously survived all these. There was then a period of comparative calm before the Second Battle of Passchendaele which started on 26 October 1917.
From 14 October 1917 over the last few days before he was killed, the Battalion had been in the trenches, but had had a quiet relief. For the next few days they were in reserve and the days were ‘quiet’ – although ‘quiet’ typically meant that one or two men were wounded each day.
The 10th Battalion War Diary noted:
Thursday 18 October – the Battalion were again ‘in trenches’ and were ‘lightly shelled’ throughout the day and night. ‘Posts & ground were generally in a very bad state.’
Friday 19 October – ‘At night the Battalion was relieved … Quiet but very slow. Relief reported complete at 4.50am on 20th. On relief Coys. proceeded to camp … (Beggers Rest).
Casualties: 3 killed.
Saturday 20 October – ‘Boys had baths. … Working parties in afternoon & evening.’
It seems that Henry Cowley was one of the ‘3 killed’ from the 10th Battalion on Friday 19 October. He was 34. The other two men were Private Carl Rudolf Wedekind, No.2536, aged 19, from Birmingham; and Private Arthur Morton, No.41676.
Their bodies were either never found or not identified. Henry and his two comrades are remembered on Panels 23 to 28 and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. Henry is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road,
An ‘In Memoriam’ was published on the anniversary of his death.
COWLEY. – In ever-loving memory of our dear HARRY (JIM), only and dearly beloved son of the late Henry Cowley and Mrs. Cowley, Rockingham House, Clifton Road, who was killed in action on October 19, 1917.
“ Though death divides, sweet memory lives for ever.”
– From his loving Mother and Sister, George & Midge.
Henry Moses Cowley was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.
After his death the Army was instructed that his effects were to be passed to his mother care of H. L. Reddish (Solicitors), 6 Market Place, Rugby, and these were sent on to her on 17 April 1918.
Henry’s Administration was in London on 21 February 1918 to his mother, Anne Cowley, widow, now of Rockingham House, 111a, Clifton Road, Rugby in the amount of £137-0-7d. Various payments were made to his mother by the army: £3-10-10d and 12/2d owing in back pay was paid as £4-3-1d on 6 April 1918 and a further War Gratuity of £6-10s was paid on 15 November 1919.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
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This article on Henry Moses COWLEY was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, July 2017.
 CRS – Camp Reception Station – When away from the Front Line, the doctor’s post was known as the Camp Reception Station [CRS] or Medical Inspection Room [MI Room] and contained 2 – 6 beds for short term holding for those needing rest but not sick enough to be evacuated, see: https://www.ramc-ww1.com/chain_of_evacuation.php
 Probably – ‘Camp Reception Station – 1st Field Ambulance’.
 The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Piece 2085/3, 10 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, July 1915-March 1919.
 Rugby Advertiser, 19 October 1918.