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Thomas Lowndes was born in Preston and was baptised on the 6th August 1893 at St. John`s Parish Church in the town by his parents Herbert John and Margaret Lowndes (nee Baron). Thomas` parents had married in the same church on the 9th April 1874 and Thomas was the youngest member of the family. Later information states that Herbert and Margaret had eight children including Thomas but not all of them survived;

  • Florence (1874)
  • Jane Alice (1877-1877)
  • Elizabeth (1878)
  • Harriet Ann (1881-1891)
  • John Henry (1884-1907)
  • Jane (1886)
  • James (1887)
  • Thomas (1893)*

In 1901 Thomas was living at 29 Savoy Street in Preston with his parents, his brother John Henry a blacksmiths striker and his sister Jane. His father was employed as a general labourer. Thomas` father passed away in 1906 and by 1911 Thomas, together with his mother and sister Jane had moved to 89 Bow Lane in Preston. Thomas was working as a general labourer and his sister was a cotton weaver.

Thomas enlisted into the Border Regiment at Preston on the 8th September 1914 with a stated age of 28 years and 2 months. He was issued with the service number 13010 and his medical inspection noted that he was 5`5” tall and weighed 112lb and had blue eyes and brown hair. Thomas named his mother Mrs. Margaret Lowndes of 89 Bow Lane in Preston as his legal next of kin. However due to some sort of foot problem he was discharged after just 39 days as “not likely to become an efficient soldier”, date of discharge given as 16th October 1914.

At some point Thomas went to work at the Wood Milne rubber works in Leyland and then in the June quarter of 1915 he married Alice Victoria Dilworth at St. Peter`s Church in Preston. Not long after their marriage Thomas enlisted for the second time, this time joining the 4th Battalion TF Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He signed his papers on the 7th June 1915 at Preston. He gave his home address as 44 Bedford Street and named his new wife Alice V. Lowndes as his next of kin for official purposes. In answer to the question as to whether he had any previous service, Thomas answered no. At his medical inspection he was noted as being 5`5” tall but was slightly heavier at 128lbs. His age was originally recorded as 29 years 11 months but the 29 was crossed out and replaced with the number 19 making him 19 years and 11 months old. Thomas` two `white lies` had paid off and this time, on his second attempt, he was successful. He was issued with the service number 4100 and posted to the 3/4th (Reserve) Battalion LNL.

Thomas embarked for France on the 4th June 1916 with a batch of reinforcements. On arrival he would have spent a couple of weeks at the Base Depot before joining the 1/4th Battalion in the field and was then posted to “B” Coy. Thomas served and survived all of the 1/4th Battalion`s actions in the Battle of the Somme although later information suggests that he was wounded at some point (no further information).

In the December quarter of 1916 Thomas` wife gave birth to the couples` only child, a daughter and she named her Elizabeth Ellen.

Sadly, just over twelve months after joining the 1/4th Battalion Thomas was killed on the 31st July 1917 which was the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), his death occurring after being struck in the head with a piece of shrapnel whilst tending to the wounded.

“At 03:30hrs on 31st July 1917 the British opened up a heavy artillery barrage on the enemy. Later, the 1/4th Bn, part of the 164th Brigade were tasked to seize and secure the Gheluvelt-Langemarck line.

Midway into their advance on the objective, casualties began to get particularly heavy, owing to enemy sniper fire, machine-gun fire and shelling from two sides. A number of Officers had also been killed. The Battalion continued to push forward and succeeded in securing their objective by 11:40hrs. The line was held up until around 14:30hrs, until the enemy successfully counter-attacked and forced the Brigade to fall back.

Casualties had been high, just over 50 men from the 1/4th Bn killed; and another 250 men were wounded or missing during the attack”.

After receiving the news of her husband`s death Alice Lowndes notified the local newspaper, the Preston Herald who printed the following article on the 25th August 1917;

“L.N.L. Soldier killed – His wife, who resides at 36 Moor Lane, Preston

has received intimation that Private T. Lowndes, L.N.L. was killed while

attending wounded on July 31st, being struck in the head with a fragment

of shell. He was 24 years of age, and the only son of Mrs. Lowndes,

89 Bow Lane, Preston. He was wounded just 12 months ago.

Prior to enlisting he was employed at Wood Milne Works, Leyland.

he leaves a widow and one child”.

According to his papers Alice did not receive any of her late husband`s personal effects. After the war she took receipt of his 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Thomas was originally buried somewhere out on the battlefields but after the war his body was exhumed and identified by means of his pay book. He was then laid to rest in Tyne Cot Cemetery;

Tyne Cot Cemetery, photo taken October 2016

In 1921 Alice Victoria Lowndes remarried to Thomas Pilkington in St. Peter`s Church in Preston and the couple went on to have two daughters and one son together.

Alice completed a Roll of Honour Submission Form for Thomas` name to be including on the Roll of Honour in Preston Museum and Art Gallery and she added a brief note in the remarks column stating “attending wounded in a captured German trench”.

Thomas` name is also remembered on the War Memorial at Christchurch, Preston which is located behind the car park adjacent to County Hall on Bow Lane in Preston.

War Memorial, Christchurch, Bow Lane, Preston

Rank: Private
Service No: 201532
Date of Death: 31/07/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, ‘B Coy’ 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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