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Lewis Jowett

Date of birth: 1892
Date of death: 26.3.1918
Area: Kirkhamgate
Regiment: Durham Light Infantry
Family information: Son of John and Ann Jowett
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service number: 44511

War Service

I looked up service records and was lucky enough to find records that corresponded with the details in the obituary. Lewis was called up at the age of 24 and enlisted on 5th October 1916. He was said to be five feet eight and a quarter inches and his next of kin was his mother Ann with whom he lived at Sigston Cottage, Kirkhamgate near Wakefield. He was a market gardener.
Lewis became a Gunner in the Royal Field Auxiliary 31st Battery (184927). On the 9th January 1917 he was hit by a wagon during a drill at his barracks in Mary Hill, Glasgow and suffered bruising to his groin. He was admitted to Mary Hill Military Hospital and in his commanding officer’s report he was said to be “in no way to blame”. Lewis was transferred from the Machine Gun Corps to the Northumberland Fusiliers and then he was appointed to Lance Rank on 13th July 1917.
On 24th September he was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry and allotted a new number 44511. He was appointed a paid Lance Corporal on 1st November 1917, in the 20th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. On 11th November Lewis was taken ill and admitted to No 36 Casualty Clearing Station with pyrexia (fever) of unknown origin. It records his service as 1 year and 1 month of which 2 months had been with the field force. His religion was stated as Primitive Methodist. Once recovered he then returned to duty.
The 20th Battalion had been deployed to Italy at the end of November 1917 and returned to France in March 1918, taking part in The Battle of St Quentin and The First Battle of Bapaume (24th-25th March). According to the war diary for the 20th Battalion they were training at the beginning of March and arrived in Faureuil on 22nd March, moving up to hold the reserve line behind Vaulx-Vraucourt. On 23rd the Germans attacked the battalion but they managed to repel them. On 25th they received orders to withdraw to Sapignies but as the enemy attacked they were pushed further back eventually reorganising in the village of Gommecourt. At 5am on 26th March the battalion occupied a section of the old enemy front line, prior to 1st July 1916, south of Gommecourt wood. Casualties that day were 1 officer died of wounds and 1 officer wounded, 4 other ranks killed, 24 wounded and 2 missing.
Lewis was one of the four killed in action on the 26th March 1918 and is remembered on the Arras Memorial, France. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His record in the Register of Soldiers’ Effects names his legatee as Ann (rather than Hannah if it had been Joseph’s brother). He is remembered on both the Kirkhamgate and the Wrenthorpe St Anne’s war memorials.
On the 4th May the Wakefield Express printed the following obituary:
“LANCE CORPORAL LOUIS JOWETT, Durham Light Infantry, was killed in action on March 26th. Enlisting in October 1916 he was transferred from one regiment to another, including the Royal Horse Artillery, Royal Field Artillery, Machine Gun Corps, Tank Corps and Northumberland Fusiliers, finally settling down with the Durham Light Infantry. He was 26 years of age and prior to enlisting was in business as a market gardener at Kirkhamgate. He was a member of the choir at the Wrenthorpe Methodist Chapel.”
There was also a memorial from Sarah – possibly his sweetheart – in the Express:
“JOWETT – In ever loving memory of Lance Corpl. Lewis Jowett, late of Kirkhamgate who was killed in action March 26th 1918.
~Peace be your rest, my dear one,
Tis sweet to breathe your name.
In life I loved you dearly,
In death I do the same.”

Family Life

At first, like other researchers, I believed Lewis to be the son of Enoch and Hannah and brother to Joseph (see his entry on We Will Remember Them). Enoch’s son, Lewis, was born on 27th February 1901 and baptised at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in the village while the family were living at New Row, Kirkhamgate. I then found the obituary to Lewis Jowett in the Wakefield Express which stated his age as 26 years which meant he would have been born in 1892. After giving it more thought it occurred to me that it was unlikely, although possible given the desperate shortage of men, that a 17-year-old would have been a Lance Corporal or had time to have been in all the battalions that were listed in the obituary. He would only have been 15 in 1916 when the obituary said he had enlisted – again possible but dubious. I searched the births, deaths and marriages index and found there was indeed another Louis Jowitt or Jowett born in the Wakefield area in 1892. His first name was also variously spelt Louis or Lewis. I then looked in registration records and I found a marriage for Enoch’s son Lewis in January 1933 aged 31 years, so this proved that he was not the man killed in France in 1918.
In 1901 Lewis (or Louis as he was recorded by the enumerator) then was living in Potovens Lane, Wrenthorpe with his parents John and Ann and 8 siblings – Martha Ann (b 1882), Lucy (b 1884), Harry (b 1886), Luther (b 1888), Sutcliffe (b1890), Lily (b 1893), Mary Ann (b 1895) and Kate J (b 1898). John was a market gardener and the eldest son Harry was a gardener’s boy.
In 1906 Sutcliffe died aged 16 and three years later their father John died. By 1911 Ann was working as a market gardener still living in Potovens Lane, Wrenthorpe. She still had Harry, Luther, Lewis, Lily, Mary Anne and Kate at home. Harry was working as a wagoner on a farm and Luther and Lewis were farm labourers.

Arras Memorial with gravestones to either side Arras Memorial

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