Biography of Private George Plowright (1917)
1917 Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Regiment
Died 25th May 1915
- Name: George Plowright
- Date of birth: 1893
- Place of Birth: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England
- Date of Birth Registration: July – September 1893
- Place of Birth Registration: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England
- Name: Edward John Fowler (Step Father)
- DOB: 1872
- Place of Birth: Morton, Lincolnshire, England
- Occupation: Labourer platelayer (Army Pensioner)
- Name: Mary Ann Plowright
- DOB: 28th January 1872
- Place Of Birth: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England
- Marriage: 15th May 1905 Morton, Lincolnshire, England
Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)
- George Plowright, 1893, Bourne
- James Edward Fowler, 1905, Morton (Half brother)
- Charles Herbert Fowler, 1907, Kamptee, India (Half brother)
- Sarah Susannah Fowler, 1910, Doncaster (Half Sister)
- Wilfred Fowler, 1911, Doncaster (Half brother)
- John William Fowler, 1915, Doncaster (Half brother)
- 1901: George is living with his mother in Victoria Place, Bourne, Lincolnshire.
- 1911: George is living with the Rodgers family in Morton, Lincolnshire. The census gives him an age of 17 and he is listed as a milkman on farm.
- No marriage for George has been found and because of his age we can assume that he never had the opportunity to marry.
Family Stories and Tales
- Edward Fowler (George’s Step father) was serving with the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment as a Lance Corporal. Edward had joined the Regiment on 4th February 1895 as Charles Fowler, Alias Edward John Fowler and had served in the Depot until May 1895 then posted to the 2nd Battalion. The served with the 2nd for only a few month before on the 5th November 1895 being posted to the 1st Battalion. His records shows service in Malta (1895-97), Egypt (1897-98), India (1898-1905).
During this first period of service Edward had gained:-
Certificate of Education 3rd Class in 1895
Certificate of Education 2nd Class 1896
Certificate of mounted Infantry – in Sec’bad in 1899
Promoted to Corporal in 1903
He was awarded campaign medals for:-
Nile Expedition 1898
Battle of Atbara 1898
Battle of Khartoum 1898
Also received medals:-
Egyptian Sudan Medal with clasps for Atbara and Khartoum (Khedives)
Sudan Medal (Queens)
Edward Fowler was placed on Furlough in 1905 and returned to England.
Edward Fowler re-joined the Lincolnshire Regiment at the age of 41 whilst working as a Platelayer on 5th January 1915. Within 10 days he was posted to the 9th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment as a Corporal and then promoted to Sergeant. The 9th were a home service Battalion who in April 1915 were re assigned as a 2nd Line Training Battalion.
Edward is next seen being transferred to the 11th Training Reserve Battalion on the 1st September 1916.On the 19th December 1917 Edward was declared unfit for war service and discharged under the Military Service Act as permanently and totally disabled and awarded the silver war badge at the age of 45. It must have been unusual to be disabled out of Army service twice in your career.
- Sheffield Independent Friday 4th June 1915
A HERO’S DEATH
DONCASTER MAN LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR COUNTRY.
Writing to Mrs. Harold Graham, wife of Sergt, Graham, of the 1/5 K.O.Y.L.I., of Park road, Doncaster, Second-Lieut, Prevett says: “I have now to do what is perhaps the hardest task which has be fallen me since the time we landed in France. Your husband yesterday laid down his life for his country. The horror of our loss is borne upon us the more so by his absence from among us. We all of us loved him as a brother. He tended and cared for his platoon just as a father protects his young children: indeed his influence was so potent in the strengthening of his men and nerving them to bear the hardshps and dangers that one would have thought he himself had seen many campaigns instead of which he was a young soldier, younger than many of his own men and junior N.C.O. He will ever be remembered by me with tender affection.”
News has also been received in Doncaster of the death of Lance-Corporal R. Barlow. Queen’s Bays; Private J. J. Brookes, Private P. J. Cartright, 1/5th K.O.Y.L.I.; and Lance-Corporal William Colley, Private William Robinson, Private William Hunt and Private George Plowright, 5th K.O.Y.L.I.
- None found
Soldier’s Died In The Great War
- These records show that Private George Plowright, 1917, 1st 5th Bn -King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was killed in action on 25th May 1915 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders.
Effects Left To
- Mother Mary A
- The British Medal
The Victory Medal
The 15 Star
- Morton, Roll of Honour in St John the Baptist Church
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
- In memory of Private George Plowright, 1917, C. Coy. 1st/5th Bn., King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Regiment who died on 25 May 1915 Age 21
- Son of Mr. E. J. and Mrs. M. A. Fowler, of 70, Kelham St., Doncaster.
- Remembered with honour, Bois-Grenier Communal Cemetery
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
Military Service Timeline
George’s full service records have not been found and as is the case with 60% of all WW1 records are most likely to have been destroyed in a warehouse fire in London in the Blitz.
The following story of George’s war has been pieced together from other known record sources.
George enlisted in Doncaster and was posted to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (K.O.Y.L.I). The enlistment date is unknown, as is the question of if he was trained with any other Battalion before being posted to the first line 5th Battalion (1st/5th Battalion). Without the date that he joined the Battalion it is hard to tell his story accurately however we have assume this was on the outbreak of war and the battalion’s history may well be George’s war story as he left for France with the 5th Battalion.
On the 3rd and 4th of August 1914 orders were received for the 49th West Riding Division to mobilise. On the 4th and units proceeded to their allotted war stations as part of the Central Force, Home Defence. Training for war was carried out.
From the 4th August 1914 the 5th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) were part of the 3rd West Riding Brigade and stationed at French Gate in Doncaster.
The Battalion were then moved to Gainsborough and finally York receiving their mobilisation for war orders.
The transport and advanced party had left York on the 12th April 1915 for Southampton. The remainder of the Battalion entrained in York on the 14th at 11:30 and 12 noon, both trains heading for Folkestone and the shorter crossing to Boulogne.
That night the Battalion main part of the Battalion were in a rest camp at Boulogne staying their only a single night before being marched to Pont-Brique Station at 11:30am the next day.
At the station they met with the train from Havre carrying the advance party and transport and proceeded to Meriville and their billets for that night.
A march was the order of the day for the 15th, leaving at 8:30am they marched the 6 miles to Doulieu once and again it was straight into billets there. This would be their first 2 weeks of the war.
In preparation for their first tour into the trenches, a party of officers and NCOs went out into the trenches for instruction in trench work. This was normal practice for a newly arrived battalion and this pattern continued until the 21st April.
The next stage of the training was for one platoon from each company to accompany the an existing regiment into the trenches and this was carried out on the 22nd April, giving some of the other ranks their first taste of the trenches.
On 23rd April this was repeated but now with 4 platoons on duty with he Royal Bucks Regiment. C company were on trench duty and Private J Fletcher was slightly wounded becoming the Battalion’s first casualty of the war. 2 NCOs and 12 men were sent for attachment to the 173rd Mining company of the Royal Engineers, all other men remaining at Doulieu until the 27th April.
On the 27th the full Battalion was moved into Brigade reserve in support of their fellow territorials the 4th KOYLI occupying no 6 section. That night the billets were in Fleur Baix. Lieutenant AEB Jackson took over the command of the Brigade Grenadier Company. For the next two days the Battalion remained in Brigade reserve. 1 Sergeant, 2 corporals and 27 men under Lt Jackson went to the Brigade Grenadier Company.
The 30th April saw the next change for the Battalion being taken out of reserve and relieving the 4th KOYLI in the front line trenches of No 6 section near Bois Grenier. This was now the full battalion engaging in the war for the first time.
This tour of the trenches lasted until the 4th May when they went back into billets in Brigade reserve. During this first tour of the trenches the Battalion had their first man killed, No 2672 Pte H Hepworth of A company, other than a few men wounded the only other thing of note was that Lt P Bentley was admitted to hospital in Merville with an accidental bayonet wound.
The pattern of being billeted in Brigade reserve providing working parties then going into the trenches for a few days was fairly normal practice and some men, who were not in an active sector, saw this as the monotony of the war.
For the 5th battalion this would not be the case as they were not far from Fromelles and Festubert which was a very active section out to their right. The battalion diary shown some quiet days and other days where their trenches were shelled and lists quite a few casualties from the men and also noted that there was a lot of sniping going on. This listing of other rank men was a practice which soon stopped as the number of men wounded rose and for the most part of the war the Battalion Diaries would only list the names of the officers.
They were in trenches and saw the big engagement going on in the right sector from them on the 9th May which was the attack on Fromelles and the Battle of Aubers Ridge. This somewhat failed in its goals and cost the 4th Corps such big losses and claimed the lives of a few of our local Bourne men as well as getting one local man Charles Sharpe the V.C.
We will pick up the story of George’s war at 9pm on the night of the 20th May when the Battalion once again took over the trenches from their fellows in the 4th battalion KOYLI.
Excerpt from the 5th Battalion KOYLI diary.
21st May 1915 – Near Bois Grenier
In trenches 2 men wounded whilst on patrol covering party of Royal Engineers and officers of the 4th Battalion marking line for advanced trenches.
In trenches. 4th KOYLI send out patrol to reconnoitre preparatory to sending working party to dig new trench. Enemy found in possession of ruined house and ground in line of proposed trench. This caused much delay and no work done in consequence four NCOs and men of this (5th) Battalion killed and two wounded.
4th KOYLI continued operations command furious day and made good progress with new trench. Enemy shelled us heavily during the afternoon result 2 men wounded and parapet damaged in several places.
24th + 25th May near Bois Grenier
A good deal of shelling during the afternoon but not much damage done. A big bombardment of enemy’s line started at 8pm and continued until 8.50pm when 2 companies of the 4th KOYLI advanced to line of new trench about 70 yards in front of the original breastwork which they reached with little loss and proceeded to dig themselves in. Further bombardment took place during the night at 10pm 12 midnight 2am 3.20am and 8am and 12 noon each bombardment lasting about 5 minutes. Enemy replied vigorously on each occasion until 3.20am when they ceased to take any notice of our artillery fire and it seems probable that some of their artillery have been withdrawn by then.
D and B Companies of this Battalion relieved the two companies of the 4th in the new trenches at 7am (25th) and continued the work there.
Enemy continued shelling intermittently during the day. Our casualties for the two days were 12 killed and 11 wounded, chiefly by shell fire.
Private George Plowright was one of those killed in action on the 25th May 1915.
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