COWIE, Arthur William Spring (known as John)

Second Lieutenant 7th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment


8th March 1886, Shillous, India.
The youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Cowie of Old Blundell’s, Tiverton.


Blundell’s School, a “Day Boy”, from the age of 12 in September 1898 – Summer1904.
He was in the Blundell’s School Cadet Corps 1900-1904. He was a distinguished Classic at Blundell’s winning the Balliol Scholorship in 1903 which increased to an Open Scholorship Stipend in 1904. He left with a 1st Class Mods and the Blundell’s Scholarship for Balliol College but gave up the scholarship and for some time wrote for papers and magazines; after some time in tuition, he resumed the scholarship but at the commencement of war in 1914 left it again for a commission in the 7th Lincolnshires.


He enlisted (Huntington Cyclist Battalion) on 13th August 1914 and was appointed L/Cpl on 24th August 1914. He was discharged the Cyclist Battalion on 27th January 1915 in order to take up a commission, and was appointed Temporary 2/Lt (Lincolnshire Regt) on 28th January 1915. He was wounded twice, first on 15th February 1916 and again on 24th April 1916.

Physical Description

At attestation he was described as being 28 yrs 6 mths of age with a height of 5ft 10ins.

Trench Diaries

The 7th Bn. Lincolnshires were part of 51st Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division. On 1st July they moved forward form Heilly to Becourt Wood and from there relieved the 6th Dorsetshires in the front line at Fricourt. They attacked towards the village at 12.15pm on the 2nd July and reached their first objective by 12.50pm, but heavy machine gun fire form Fricourt Wood held them up at their second objective. Railway Alley was taken on the 3rd July after which they were relieved so that evening moved to Ville. from 4th July to 7th July they remained out of the action having suffered 214 casualties. On 7th July they moved forward to Quadrangle trench but withdrew to the old front line at Fricourt the same evening. Back to Quadrangle trench again on the 8th July and remained in action there and at Pearl Alley until the 9th.


8th July 1916.
Killed in action, Somme.


Grave VII H 7
Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, Mametz, Somme. The village of Mametz was carried by the 7th division on 1st July 1916 after the first day of the battle of the Somme, after very hard fighting at Danzig Alley, (a German trench) and other points. The cemetery was begun in July 1916 and Plots I and II were used up to the following November by field ambulances and fighting units. After the armistice it was greatly enlarged by concentration of smaller cemeteries from surrounding areas. AWS Cowie’s grave was one brought in from his first resting place which was in Railway Copse Cemetery, Fricourt. This burial was registered on 4th July 1917 and his brother (as next of kin) informed. He was exhumed on 30th January 1920 and re-interred in Dantzig Alley Cemetery the same day.


His headstone is at 49°59’59.6”N, 002°23’45.9”E.
The family chose to have no motto inscribed.

Surviving Family

2/Lt Cowie had a brother serving with the Royal Engineers, on 15th July 1916 he was Major H.E.C Cowie DSO R.E. Later, on 26th Feb 1923, he was described as Lt Col Cowie.
Mrs. Fanny (also named as Frances) Hern was named as the person who should receive his memorial plaque and effects. The effects are not listed but Fanny Hern wrote in 1916 to ask that Binoculars and a service revolver not sent with his other effects should be sent to her. This lady is likely to have been his mother (remarried) or a sister. Francis Hearn (widow) was the sole executrix of his will.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission -
“The Blundellian”, July 1916 p 246
The National Archives, Public Records Office, Kew: WO 339/32595
“The Register of Blundell's School, Part II 1882 – 1932” (1932) MAHOOD, A.S., Ed. Entry No. 4667
“Cemeteries & Memorials in Belgium & Northern France” (2004) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 25/518
“British Battalions on the Somme” WESTLAKE, R. (2004) Pen and Sword
Field visit (JEA & GRY 28/7/2006)


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