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  • Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.
Person Details
Heanor, Derbyshire
Lewis Augustus Towle was born in 1892 at Heanor and was the son of the late Joseph a blacksmith and Keziah Towle née Garner of Bridge Street, Heanor. His father Joseph was born in 1837 at Sandiacre, he died in 1898 aged 61 yrs, his mother Keziah Garner was born in 1854 at East Leake she died in 1898 aged 44 yrs, they were married in 1876 their marriage was recorded in the Basford registration district they had the following children, Emily b1871 Langley Mill, William b1874 Langley Mill, James b1878 Langley Mill, Mary b1880 Langley Mill, their remaining children were all born at Heanor and were Frederick b1882, Keziah b1884, Gertrude b1886, Priscilla b1887, Thomas b1888, John Garner b1890 and Lewis Augustus b1892. Lewis married his wife Fanny Clarke (born 12th September 1893) in 1915 at St Marys Church at Westwood, Lewis Towles pension card shows that his widow Fanny Towle was residing at the Prince Leopold Hotel, Moffatt Street, Nottingham, when she was awarded a pension of 10 shillings a week which commenced on 5th March 1917.
01 Jul 1916
24
816819 - CWGC Website
18168
Private
11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Private Lewis Angus Towle enlisted in October 1914 at Nottingham, he served with the 11th battalion Sherwood Foresters Regiment. He landed in France on 27th August 1915 and was killed in action on the first day of the battle of the Somme 1st July 1916, having no known grave his name is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
He was killed on the first day of the Somme. Battalions attacking Ovillers on 1st July 1916 had to cross 'Mash Valley' one of the widest expanses of No Man's Land (750 yards) along the entire Somme front. Today, looking from Ovillers Cemetery (German front line) towards distant houses (British front line) across open fields offering little cover, the magnitude of their task is still evident. 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters' War Diary recorded: 'Casualties along the whole line were very heavy and a general attempt was made to crawl forward under intense machine gun and shrapnel fire, any available cover being made use of.... Lt Colonel Watson, walking diagonally across the front collecting men as he went gave fresh impetus to the advance by his personal example... A third attempt, led by Captain C E Hudson*, to reach the German trenches by the sunken road on the right flank was made but... was brought to a standstill by heavy frontal and flank fire as they came over the brow of the hill in the last 80 yards. The casualties sustained by the battalion during the day amounted to 21 officers and 508 men. The strength of the battalion on entering the trenches on 26th June was 27 officers and 710 men.' 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters War Diary TNA WO95/21871(3). 125 men from 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were killed during the attack on Ovillers (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). *John Cotterill adds 'The man who brought the 11th Foresters out of action on 1 July and, one of the 6 unwounded officers, was Capt Edward Hudson who would go on to get a VC as CO of 11th Foresters on Asiago Plateau in Italy in 1918'. 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment suffered 264 fatalities during the same advance. Concerns of their CO Lieutenant Colonel Edward Thomas Falkiner Sandys DSO, a brave and well respected officer, that his battalion would be badly mauled crossing such an expanse of open ground with uncut wire an added hazard, did not impress his superiors. Sandys was wounded during the attack and evacuated to the UK. Depressed at the fate of so many men who had trusted him, Sandys shot himself in a London hotel room and died a few days later. 8th Division's Official History records a total of 5,121 casualties on 1st July 1916. Military Research by David Nunn
Remembered on

Photos

  • Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.
    Photo David Nunn - Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.