Gowland T.

THOMAS GOWLAND (1894-1916)

3972 Private Thomas Gowland, 1/6 Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action and is buried at Ridge Wood Military Cemetery.[1]  He was 21 years old and is commemorated on the Butterknowle War Memorial and the memorial plaque in St. John the Evangelist Church, Lynesack.

Family Details

Thomas was born 1894[2] at Butterknowle, the son of Ralph and Jane Gowland.  There were at least 7 children, all born within the Parish of Lynesack and Softley:

  • John Robert bc.1893
  • Thomas born 1894
  • Wilfred bc.1897
  • Mabel bc.1901
  • Ralph bc.1904
  • Norman bc.1907
  • Lavinia bc.1908[3]

In 1901, the family lived at Bowes Hill and Ralph worked as a coal miner (hewer).[4]  By 1911, Ralph had died and Jane was head of the household living at Stone Row, Butterknowle.  John, Thomas and Wilfred all worked as coal miners, 16 year old Thomas described as a “hanger on”.[5]

Service Details

Thomas Gowland enlisted at Bishop Auckland into the 1/6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry being given the regimental number 3972.[6]  The service record of Private T. Gowland has not been researched but he did not enter France until after 31 December 1915. [7] The 1/6th Battalion was formed in Bishop Auckland in August 1914 as part of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade, Northumbrian Division and in May 1915 became the 151st Brigade of the 50th Division. [8] The Division moved to France 16 April 1915 and served with distinction on the Western Front throughout the war.  The following units were in the Brigade:

  • 1/6th Bn., the Durham Light Infantry
  • 1/7th Bn., DLI
  • 1/8th Bn., DLI
  • 1/9th Bn., DLI
  • 1/5th Bn., the Loyal North Lancs. joined June 1915

Following heavy casualties in June 1915 the battalion merged with the 1/8th to become the 6/8th then it returned to its original identity 11 August 1915 and was then joined by:

  • 1/5th (Cumberland) Bn., the Border Regiment joined December 1915
  • 151st Machine Gun Company formed 6 February 1916
  • 150th Trench Mortar Battery formed 18 June 1916 [9]

Private T. Gowland was killed in action 13 April 1916.  The 6/DLI war diary has not been researched but it is likely he and 4 others were hit by enemy shell fire.  Detail is provided below:[10]

“The battalion was relieved by the 9th Battalion at about 11.00pm on the 11th April and moved into Brigade reserve in Ridgewood.  One company under Captain S. Thorpe was in dugouts between the GHQ Line and the Dickebusch-Vierstraat road.  The 12th and 13th April were relatively quiet, disturbed occasionally by some enemy shelling.  The weather was exceedingly good and encouraged German aircraft to put in an appearance over the British positions.  These were chased off by our aeroplanes on the 14th April.”

Later research records that on 13 April 1916, 6/DLI suffered the following losses:

  • Lieutenant R.J. Harris killed in action [11]
  • 4176 Private J.H. Arkley killed in action resided at Low Willington
  • 3972 Private T. Gowland killed in action
  • 3838 Private A.E. Sambrook killed in action resided at New Shildon
  • 3882 Private T. Teasdale died of wounds resided at New Brancepeth

The above 4 other ranks all enlisted at Bishop Auckland. [12]

Private T. Gowland was awarded the British War and Victory medals. [13]


3972 Private T. Gowland is buried at grave reference II.C.8, Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, south west of Ypres.  There are 619 Commonwealth WW1 burials including Privates Arkley and Sambrook.[14]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.19a p.240 Auckland 1894 Q4

[3] 1901 & 1911 census records

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[7] Medal Roll card index

[8] http://www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm

[9] http://www.1914-1918.net/50div.htm

[10] “The Faithful Sixth: a history of the Sixth Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry” H. Moses 1995 p.60

[11] Officers Died in the Great War

[12] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[13] Medal Roll

[14] CWGC


GOWLAND T.  portrait

Press Photo

GOWLAND T.  Headstone


One thought on “Gowland T.

  1. Pingback: BUTTERKNOWLE | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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