Sowler Towzer

​​​Area : Brotherton

Born : 1891

Died : 30 July 1918

Service number : 201356

Rank : Private

Regiment / Service : King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

Family information : Son of Fred Towzer of Brotherton and husband of Rose Mary Towzer of 106, Kershaw Avenue, Airedale

Wa​​r Service

Sowler Towzer was enlisted in the 2/4th battalion of the K.O.Y.L.I. which was formed at Wakefield on 30th September 1914 as a second line unit. On 1st March 1915 they moved to Bulwell and attached to 187th Brigade in 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division. Moved in April 1915 to Strenshall and on in May to Beverley, going on in November to Gateshead, January 1916 to Larkhill and June 1916 to Flixton Park near Bungay. Moved again in October 1916 to Wellingborough. Finally, they landed at le Havre on 15th January 1917.

The Division then remained on the Western Front in France and Flanders for the rest of the war and took part in the following engagements:

19​​​17

  • The Operations on the Ancre (15 February - 13 March)
  • The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (14 - 19 March)
  • The first attack on Bullecourt (part of the Arras offensive) (11 April)
  • The German attack on Lagnicourt (part of the Arras offensive) (15 April)
  • The Battle of Bullecourt (part of the flanking operations round Arras) (3 - 17 May)
  • The actions on the Hindenburg Line (20 - 28 May)
  • The Cambrai Operations (Tank attack 20 - 21 November and the capture of Bourlon Wood 27 – 28 November.

19​​18

  • The Battle of Bapaume~ (25 March)
  • The First Battle of Arras 1918~ (28 March)
  • The battles marked ~ are phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918.
  • The Battle of the Tardenois (part of the Battles of the Marne 1918) (20 - 30 July)
  • Battle of the Tardenois, 20 - 31 July 1918
  • French Fifth Army (Berthelot)
  • XXll Corps (Godley)
  • 51st (Highland) Division, which fought for the Ardre Valley
  • 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division, which also fought for the Ardre Valley.

In view of a German withdrawal from the Marne on the night 20/21 July, the two British Divisions were assigned to French Tenth Army. The British formations relieved one French and one American Division in the front line on 22 July. 

Sowler Towzer died on 30th July and was interred in the Tyne Cot Cemetery.

The CWGC information states that Sowler was the son of Fred Towzer of Brotherton and the husband of Rose Mary Towzer living at 105 Kershaw Avenue, Airedale near Castleford.

Famil​​y Life

An uncommon name as this should have been relatively easy to research, however, there were a number of similar surnames including Tozer, Towyer, Towser and

Sowter for the Christian name. I use the one in the heading as this is the spelling used by the CWGC.

There is, however, no doubt that Sowler was born in Brotherton as this is stated in several official databases.

In 1891, living in Low Street, Brotherton was a couple called Frederick John and Annie Sarah Towzer. Frederick was described as a ‘Seaman - seas’ by trade.  They were married in the first quarter (Jan-Mar) 1891 in St. Edwards Church, Brotherton. 24 year old Frederick had been born in 1867 in Paddington, Middlesex although the birth was registered in Kensington. His father and mother were given as John (a carpenter) and Sophia Newport who married in Marylebone in 1886. John Lovelace Tozer was born in the Exmouth region of Cevon in 1844, the son of James Tozer and Eliza Carter who married in 1843.

In 1871 Frederick was living in Paddington with his grandmother - Mary A Newport. By 1881 he is found on the navy training ship ‘Exmouth’ - This seems to have been based in Grays in Essex rather than in Devon where his father came from. Frederick was described as a ‘Pauper and Scholar’ and it would seem that many boys from such backgrounds were sent for training on this ship.

Annie was 21 years old and her maiden name was Burton. This was a Brotherton name and Annie may have been related but she was apparently born in Horbury. How the couple met is not recorded. In the final quarter of 1891 Sowler was born, the birth being registered in Pontefract.

The name Sowler is somewhat unusual but there were several of that name in the village including a Sowler Burton, which may or may not be significant, but as he was a ‘Barge Master’ by trade it seems to indicate a possible route by which Frederick and Annie met.

Two other children were born - Frederick James (1895) and James (1896, died 1896).

Little additional information can be found other than in the third quarter of 1915 Sowler Towzer married Rose M Carson. And in the second quarter of 1916 Thomas S. Towzer was born. Both of these events were registered in Pontefract.​

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