Edward McGowan, L/Cpl 7917, 8th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Killed in action 24th August 1917 in Belgium, aged 30
Edward McGowan was born on 3 May 1887 at 91 Charlotte St, Broughton, Salford, the son of Fanny (Frances) McGowan, a domestic servant from Macclesfield. In early 1891 Frances married Roger Kearsley Brown in Macclesfield, and Edward took his stepfather’s surname. In the 1891 census, three-year-old Edward was living at 11 Pearce Street, Macclesfield, with his mother and stepfather, who was a draper’s assistant from Manchester.
The family later moved to Salford and Frances and Roger had two children: Frances, born in 1892, and Roger Kersley, born in 1894. Sadly Frances died soon after baby Roger was born. Frances and Roger junior remained with their father, who remarried in Salford in 1896, but Edward reverted to the surname McGowan and returned to Macclesfield to live with his widowed grandmother, Margaret Garvey, formerly McGowan, nee Maloney. In 1901, thirteen-year-old Edward was living at 50 Pickford Street, Macclesfield with his grandmother, aunts Annie (43), and Mary Ann (23), and uncle Peter (49); the enumerator mistakenly listed Edward as a son, rather than grandson, of Margaret Garvey.
Edward later lived at 94 Great King Street, Macclesfield with his aunt Alice and her husband George William Kidd, who married in 1900, and he was employed as an embroiderer at A W Hewetson’s mill in St George’s Street.
In 1904 Edward enlisted in the King’s Royal Rifles for seven years service, followed by time as a reservist. Shortly before his active service commitment expired, he was listed in the 1911 census with the 1st Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles in the New Barracks at Alverstoke, Gosport, Hampshire.
After his Army service, Edward found employment as a Fireman with the Bolton Fire Brigade. In September 1916, Edward married Ellen Leigh at St Mary’s Church, Deane, Bolton. The couple had a son, also named Edward, and Ellen later lived at 33 Church Lane, Wingates, Westhoughton, Bolton.
As a reservist, Edward McGowan was recalled to his regiment shortly after the outbreak of war and was drafted overseas on 26 August 1914. He was wounded and repatriated twice, serving in Ireland for some time before returning to France in early 1917. L/Cpl McGowan was killed in action on 24 August 1917.
L/Cpl McGowan’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 21 September 1917:
THIRTEEN YEARS’ SERVICE: RESERVIST FALLS AFTER HARD FIGHTING – Official news has been received that Lce-Cpl. Edward McGowan, King’s Royal Rifles, who formerly resided with Mr and Mrs J W Kidd, 94 Great King Street, Macclesfield, was killed on August 24th.
Lce-Cpl McGowan was twenty-nine years of age and the son of Macclesfield people. He was born in the town and received his education at St Alban’s school, being also connected with the Church. He was formerly employed as an embroiderer at the St George’s Street mill of Mr A W Hewetson, and enlisted in the Royal Rifles thirteen years ago. After serving for seven years he was transferred to the reserve, being called up on the outbreak of war. He went out with the first expeditionary force in August 1914 and after about eight months at the front was gassed. After being treated in hospital in France, the deceased came to England, and upon recovery re-joined. Subsequently he was again drafted out to France, and sustained bullet wounds in the right shoulder, right thigh and elbow. Lce-Corpl McGowan underwent treatment in a Birmingham hospital, and was discharged in September 1915. After re-joining his regiment he was stationed in Ireland for some time, and had a furlough in December, 1915, before proceeding to the front at the beginning of this year. He was married, and his wife and child reside near Bolton, where the late Lance Corporal was at one time a member of the Fire Brigade.
L/Cpl Edward McGowan has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 115 to 119 and 162A and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for L/Cpl Edward McGowan, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Elsewhere, he is commemorated on the Church of St. Thomas and St. John WWI Memorial, Lostock, Bolton, and may be the E McGowan on the Bolton Fire Brigade memorial.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages, Deaths
GRO Birth and Marriage Certificates
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901, 1911
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 21 September 1917, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)