Carl LOWTHER
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Number:
Unit: 11th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 16 August 1917
Age: 36
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Carl Lowther had been born on 1 November 1880 in the parish of All Saints, Manchester (near to Manchester University). He came from a relatively well-to-do family, his father‘s occupation being described as "gentleman". The 1901 Census shows him living, as a boarder, at 1 Daisy Avenue, Rusholme, Manchester.  He was working as a teacher.

In the June quarter of 1908, Carl married Grace Dalzell (or Dalziel) in a civil ceremony registered at Stockport. They are believed to have lived for a time at 7 Berkley Avenue, Levenshulme, Manchester but, by the time war was declared in 1914, they had moved to Cheadle Hulme. They would not seem to have been well settled as various home addresses appear in official documentation including Priory Villa, Cheadle Road; 3 Coral Road and 30 Heathbank Road. In 1917, it is also noted that Carl and Grace had a young son. After Carl was killed, Grace was living at "Little Cot, Penmaen Drive, Old Colwyn, Wales. Perhaps she was staying with a relative and soon moved back to this area to live at 11 Beech Road.

Carl originally enlisted, as a private, in the 14th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, on 14 December 1914. This had been formed at Lichfield in October 1914. Apart from its very early days, it always operated as a training reserve battalion and never saw active service. On the day of his enlistment, Carl was immediately promoted to Lance Corporal. A week later, he became a Corporal and, on 25 March 1915, he was further promoted to Sergeant. On 29 November 1915, he was again advanced to become Company Quartermaster Sergeant.

The following year, he applied for a commission and joined the Officer Cadet Battalion, at Lichfield, on 5 October and was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 11th Battalion with effect from 25 January 1917. He joined the Battalion, in Belgium, on 21 March 1917.

On 30 July, the Battalion moved to bivouacs in hop fields near the village of Elverdinghe, to the north west of Ypres (now Ieper). It stayed here for the next two weeks preparing for its part in a coming attack. The Third Battle of Ypres had started on 31 July, and, in this sector, the next phase would advance to capture the village of Langemarck. The Manchesters formed part of a mile-wide infantry attack.

The starting point for the attack was the west bank of the Steenbeck (a small river). On the way to their assembly positions, the Battalion's guides took to them to the wrong spot. Eventually, they made it to the correct place about an hour before zero hour.  There had only been two casualties, although the German artillery bombardment had been heavy.

At 4.45, Carl led his men out of their positions and crossed the Steenbeck by way of a footbridge. As the Battalion was crossing, the enemy artillery fire increased and it destroyed the bridge. 8 officers, out of 16, were killed or wounded at this point. It was not a good start and the advance was made more difficult by the fact that it had been raining for days and the ground had turned to deep mud. The troops simply could not move quickly.

By 6.12, they had advanced to their designated point, about a kilometre away and were given orders to lie down in the mud until the 8th Northumberland Fusiliers had captured a position. It is reported that, at 6.30, the Fusiliers signalled for the Manchesters to advance, but they had not yet secured their objective. This exposed the Manchesters to heavy machine gun fire from an enemy strongpoint at Maison du Hibou. The Battalion also had an objective to capture an enemy post on its right flank, west of the Langemarck-Winnepeg road. "P" Company, captured some prisoners here, but they then came under rifle and machine gun fire. They pressed forward to a series of concrete structures where they captured more prisoners. The Company had become somewhat isolated and had to withdraw back to the main body of troops.

On the left of the attack, "Q" and "S" Companies had lost all their officers and the men were now involved in very difficult and uncoordinated fighting for some huts, east of the Langemarck Road. Eventually the battalion managed to establish a defensive line here, running from the huts to the road. An enemy counter-attack, later in the day, was beaten off. The attack had been successful but at a significant cost. 5 officers, including Carl, had been killed. 46 other ranks had also died. Two of them were local men - Clifford Dawson and Arthur Stott.170 others had been wounded.

Carl's body was never recovered and identified and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial. His personal effects were only a gold watch and a wallet containing papers and photos. These were returned to Grace.

   
           
   
     
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