Lowther C.E.


Lance Corporal C.E. Lowther, 1/6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 1 October 1916 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.[1]  He was 28 years old and is commemorated on the Butterknowle War Memorial and the memorial plaque in St. John the Evangelist Church, Lynesack.

Charles’ brother Second Lieutenant W. Lowther, 5/Yorkshire Regiment was killed in action 27 May 1918 aged 26. [2]

Family Details

Charles Edwin Lowther was born 1888[3] at Copley, the son of William and Margaret Lowther.  There were at least 8 children: [4]

  • Hilda bc.1886 in the Parish of Lynesack and Softley
  • Charles Edwin born 1888 at Copley
  • Eleanor bc.1890 at Copley
  • William bc.1892 in the Parish of Lynesack and Softley
  • Millicent bc.1895 in the Parish of Lynesack and Softley
  • Margaret bc.1897 in the Parish of Lynesack and Softley
  • Muriel bc.1900 in the Parish of Lynesack and Softley
  • John bc.1906 in the Parish of Lynesack and Softley

In 1891, the family lived at Pinfold Lane, Butterknowle and William worked as a grocer/draper.[5]  By 1901, the family had increased to 7 children, none recorded as in employment and William was employed as a grocer/drapers assistant”.[6]  By 1911, the family lived at Copley Lane, their oldest children Hilda and Charles were not at home and William works as a grocer.  Son, William now aged 19 may be his assistant.  An 11 month old grandson Cecil Lowther lives with the family. [7]

Service Details

Charles Edwin Lowther enlisted at Bishop Auckland into the 6th battalion, the Durham Light Infantry, the local Territorial Force and was allocated the regimental number 6/4464.[8] 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. The Division moved to France 16 April 1915 and served with distinction on the Western Front throughout the war.  Other battalions were: [9]

  • 1/7th Battalion, DLI
  • 1/8th Battalion, DLI
  • 1/9th Battalion, DLI
  • 1/5th Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment joined June 1915

By 23 April 1915, the Division was concentrated in the Steenvoorde area on the Franco-Belgian border just as the German Army attacked nearby Ypres, using poison gas for the first time.  The Division was rushed into battle and took part in the following engagements, all phases of the Second Battle of Ypres: [10]

  • The Battle of St. Julien: 24 April – 4 May
  • The Battle of Frezenburg Ridge: 8 – 13 May
  • The Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge: 24-25 May

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) Battalion, the Border Regiment joined December 1915
  • 151st Machine Gun Company formed 6 February 1916
  • 150th Trench Mortar Battery formed 18 June 1916

The 50th Division was part of the III Corps, Fourth Army which saw action at the Battle of the Somme 1916 as follows: [11]

  • The Battle of Flers-Courcelette: 15-22 September
  • The Battle of Morval: 25-28 September
  • The Battle of Le Transloy: 1–18 October

The service records of Lance Corporal C. Lowther have not been researched but he did not enter France until after 31 December 1915 [12] so did not take part in any actions of 1915.  He may have seen action at the Battle of the Somme.

The Battle of Le Transloy: 1-18 October 1916: a summary

 This action, the 8th phase of the Battle of the Somme, commenced 1 October 1916.  The village of Eaucourt L’Abbaye was captured and the attack is famous for the action of Lieut.-Col. R. B. Bradford who was awarded the Victoria Cross.

For the attack 151 Brigade consisted of 1/6DLI (a composite battalion made up of 1/5 Border Regt. & 1/8DLI) and 1/5 Northumberland Fusiliers (attached from 49 Brigade).  The 1/6DLI suffering in the wake of 1/7th London’s lack of success had their right flank exposed and only gained a footing in Flers Trench.  Their commanding officer was wounded so 1/9 DLI, who were in support, came up and rallied the front troops and by 9.30pm elements of both battalions had secured Flers Trench.  In the centre and on the left the composite Battalion and 1/5 NF captured the Flers Lines with little difficulty.  The following extract describes operations:

“By dawn all preparations, including the alteration of watches to winter time, were completed for the attack, which had been ordered for the 1st October.

The preliminary bombardment commenced at 7.00am and continued till zero hour (3.15pm) when it changed to a barrage.  Unfortunately there were some casualties from shells falling short, the total casualties for the day being about 40, including the Commanding Officer wounded.  Lieut.-Col. R. B. Bradford, now commanding the 9th Battalion, asked for and was given permission to take command of the 2 Battalions and for his subsequent work that day was awarded the V. C.  He arrived at Battalion H.Q. at zero and at once went up to the front line.

The attack commenced at 3.15pm but partly on account of the failure of the 47th Division on the right and partly owing to the wire not being properly cut, the attackers were held up by machine gun fire and suffered heavy casualties.  After considerable fighting with bombs and rifles 3 Lewis gun teams of X Company, under 2nd Lieut. T. Little and 2nd Lieut. C.L. Tyerman and one team of W Company under 2nd Lieut. Barnett succeeded in getting a footing in the first objective.  During these operations Lieut.-Col. Bradford arrived on the scene and immediately took charge of the situation and under his direction and leadership the whole of the first objective was gained.  A Company of the 9th Battalion then came up and using the new position as a starting point advanced and took the final objective after dark.

About dusk a counter-attack was attempted by the enemy on the front right.  Advancing in extended order, about 20 of the enemy were challenged and they all cheered, shouting “Hooray”.  As they showed no further friendly signs they were fired on and driven off.  During the night a further counter attack developed from the valley on the right but this was also repulsed.

The following day, by organised bombing, the whole of the final objective was captured and held and communication trenches were dug back to North Durham Street.

The casualties during the 2 days had been very heavy and included amongst the officers, in addition to those already mentioned 2nd Lieut. Peacock killed and 2nd Lieut. Lean, Capt. Peberdy, Lieut. Cotching, 2nd Lieut. Barnett and 2nd Lieut. Appleby wounded.  Amongst the decorations gained were Military Medals awarded to Corporal Dixon and Privates Rushford and Atkinson, all signallers, and Private Turnbull of X Company.  Good work was also done by Sergeants Gowland and Winslow.

On the night of the 2nd October Lieut.-Col. Bradford handed over the command of the Battalion to Lieut. Ebsworth, and it was relieved by the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers the night after.” [13]

 The 6/DLI War Diary for October 1916 (Vol. 19) is brief on detail:

“Somme 1916 Oct.1 At 1am summer time altered back to normal by putting clock back 1 hour, this is to 12 midnight. 2Lieut Yaldwyn (Sniping Officer) attached to Y Company for duty.  Commanding Officer saw all Company Commanders at 3am to talk over details of the attack.  Completed jumping off trenches about dawn and occupied them in battle order by 6am.  60 men (draft and details) brought up from the Transport Lines to act as Carrying Party for the battalion.  Artillery bombardment of German trenches from 7am to 3.15pm. 2Lieut. Yaldwyn wounded about noon.  The Commanding Officer Major Wilkinson wounded about 1.30pm.  Lt. Colonel Bradford of the 9th Durham L.I. took over command of the Battalion for the period of the operations.

3.15pm Assault delivered. 1st objective gained ?on the left later on the right also. 2nd Lieuts ? Cotching, Barnett & Appleby wounded.

Considerable amount of hostile Machine Gun fire from the right during the attack.  German trenches not much damaged by Artillery fire.  Block established on the right as troops on the right had not obtained their objective.  1 Company of the Durham L.I. sent up to re-inforce.  About midnight 2nd objective was gained by combined assault.

2 German bombing attack on our 2nd line right repulsed in the early morning.  Fairly quiet day but wet.  During the night of the 2/3rd 6 Durham L.I. and 9 Durham L.I. relieved by 7 Northumberland Fusiliers.

3 Relief completed about 4-30am.  Lt. Colonel Bradford ceased to be in command and Lieut. Ebworth assumed command of the battalion.  Battalion moved to Starfish Line.  At 1pm Battalion moved off by platoons at 150 paces interval to BECOURT wood where it took up quarters it had previously occupied there

4 Wet morning – spent in packing up.  Battalion moved at 11-45am by platoons to HENENCOURT WOOD, arriving about 4pm, having had dinners en route.  Good camp.  All battalion in tents.”  [14]

 The war diary contains no summary of casualties for the month of October.  Lance Corporal C. Lowther was killed in action 1 October 1916.  He has no known grave.

For the period 1 – 3 October, the 6/DLI suffered a total of 65 deaths, 2 officers and 63 other ranks: [15]

  • 1 October – Second Lieutenant William Little and 48 other ranks were killed in action including Lance Corporal C. Lowther and 1 other rank died of wounds
  • 2 October –  Second Lieutenant David Ronald Peacock and 8 other ranks were killed in action, 5 died of wounds
  • 3 October – 1 other rank died of wounds

Lance Corporal C. Lowther was awarded the British War and Victory medals.


 Lance Corporal C.E. Lowther has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.  The Memorial bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the UK and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave.  Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 31 July 1932.  [16]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] CWGC

[3] England & Wales 1837-1915 Birth Index Vol.10a p.230 Auckland 1888 Q2

[4] 1891, 1901 & 1911 census records

[5] 1891 census

[6] 1901 census

[7] 1911 census Note: Charles Lowther not traced

[8] Soldiers Died in the Great War

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

[10] www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm & www.1914-1918.net/50div.htm & http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1915.htm

[11] http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1916.htm

[12] Medal Roll card index

[13] “The 6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry”  Captain Ainsworth

[14] National Archives Catalogue Reference: WO/95/2840

[15] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[16] CWGC




LOWTHER C.  Inscription

Inscription Thiepval Memorial



One thought on “Lowther C.E.

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

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