Edwin Harold Towndrow

Name Edwin Harold Towndrow*
Corps 2nd Leicestershire Regiment. Formerly Northamptonshire Regiment (5482)
Rank Lance Corporal
Service No. 5708
Date/Place of entry 9 November 1914, Kettering
Date of death 13 March 1915*, Killed in Action
Memorial/Grave Le Touret Panel 11  & Wilbarston

*Also called himself Edward
*Same death date as William James Tansley

Edwin Harold Towndrow was born at Wilbarston in 1881, the eldest of five children of Thomas Hickman Towndrow and his wife Frances nee Gray. Thomas was a saddler, one of the very large family of Kettering trades people, and followed his father’s trade.  One of his older brothers kept a shop on Kettering High Street. In 1901 Thomas and his family had fallen on hard times as the census describes him as ‘feeble-minded and on parish relief’. In 1911 he was not so described but all the military records have his wife Frances as the next of kin which suggests he was permanently disabled.

Edwin first enlisted with the Northamptonshire regiment in 1898 but left after a few weeks because of poor health. He enlisted again in 1901 but was back in Wilbarston in 1911 working as an ironstone labourer. His younger brother Arthur George was then in Madras with the 2nd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment.

Edwin married Frances Bamford of Cottingham in October 1914 and re-enlisted the following month, with the 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He held the rank of lance corporal, an indication that his previous army experience was substantial. He was killed in action on 13 March 1915, the last day of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle where the Allies sustained very heavy losses. Of the thousand men who attacked at Aubers, none survived. Overall Allied losses were seven thousand British and four thousand, two hundred Indian from the Meerut Division.

His name is listed on Le Touret Memorial in the Pas de Calais. The Memorial lies at the east end of Le Touret Military Cemetery on the Bethune-Armentieres road. It commemorates over thirteen thousand, four hundred British soldiers who were killed in this sector of the Western Front from the beginning of October 1914 to the eve of the Battle of Loos in late September 1915 and who have no known grave. Almost all of them were killed in actions that took place along a section of the front line that stretched from Estaires to Grenay. His mother also had a memorial raised inside Wilbarston church to commemorate him and his brother Arthur who was also killed in action, in May 1918.

Edwin’s widow Frances married Fred Jackson in 1918. His father Thomas died in 1923, his mother Frances in 1937. He was also survived by three sisters, one of whom was in Canada.