16621 Private James Cowley of the 1st King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment was a patient at Beechland House after being wounded on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. His entry in Nurse Oliver’s album (which has been over-written in black ink at a later date) reads:
Pte J. Cowley 16621.
1st Kings Own Royal Lancs
Wounded on the 1st July 1916
Between Serre and Beau-mont-Hamel [sic]
With My Best Respects &
Good Wishes To The Hospital
Staff at Newick for Their
Kind Attention And Services
Rendered During My Brief Stay
James Cowley arrived in France on 29th July 1915 as part of a draft of reinforcements and was posted to the regular 1st Battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancashire Regiment. He was one of the 34,156 other ranks wounded on July 1st 1916.
On that day his division, the 4th, had pushed forward north of Beaumont Hamel, taking the German held Munich Trench and pushing on to Pendant Copse beyond it. Lying in support of the 6th and 8th Battalions of The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, the 1st Kings had left their trenches at 8:45am and succeeded in reinforcing the furthest troops only to assailed by machine gun fire and bombing counter attacks launched from a German strongpoint at Serre. By 11 am they had been forced back. Twenty fours later they would abandon their position altogether.
After recuperating at Beechlands, James Cowley subsequently joined the Royal Air Force (number 145302) and finally, the Labour Corps (279301). His 1914/15 Star medal roll entry, dated at Blandford on 7th October 1920 gives his RAF number whereas his British War and Victory Medal roll entry gives the Labour Corps number.