WWI: Honouring Douglas 100 years to the day

Richard Cartwright with mum Marjory and son Zak, holding a portrait of Marjory's grandfather Douglas Lowe. Pic: FPA
Richard Cartwright with mum Marjory and son Zak, holding a portrait of Marjory's grandfather Douglas Lowe. Pic: FPA

Three generations of a Glenrothes family set off to France this week to pay their respects to a long-lost relative – 100 years to the day after he was killed fighting for his country.

Regimental Sergeant Major Douglas Lowe, a member of the 45th brigage of the Royal Field Artillery was killed in action on May 11, 1915, aged 35.

His death came just two days after the disastrous battle of Auber Ridge on the Western Front, an attack that saw 4682 men lost in just two hours.

Now the soldier’s grandaughter Marjory Cartwright is accompanying her son Richard and grandson Zak to her grandfather’s grave for the very first time.

“My mother and grandmother were never fortunate enough to make the trip to his grave and, while we’d talked about it over the years, we’d never done so either,” expained Marjory.

“As May 11 is such a poignant and special anniversary, it’s going to be very emotional to be there, 100 years to the day since he died.”

And, thanks to the internet, the family have now found out a lot more information about their relative.

“For instance, we never knew his name is inscribed on the village war memorial in Dallington, East Sussex, where he once lived,” said Marjory.

“It’s amazing to find out all these years later,” she added.

The body of Marjory’s grandfather now rests alongside several hundred other soldiers in the Royal Irish Graveyard in Laventie, France.

Born in Warbleton, East Sussex in 1878, military records show he had already served in the Boer War, having been awarded the Africa medal and mentioned in despatches for his bravery.

Disastrous Allied offensive in Artois that left more than 216,000 casualties

Douglas Lowe enlisted in Eastbourne and, at the time of his death, was living at ‘Medwyn’ Largo Road, St Andrews.

In May 1915, he was part of the Allies 8th Division which carried out an offensive north of Arras towards Lille.

This was the Second Battle of Artois (May 9-June 18, 1915) with the aim to push the Germans off the dominating high ground of the Loretto and Vimy Ridges north of Arras.

British attacks on the German line took place a little further north on the flat Flanders plain at Aubers Ridge and Festubert.

By the end of the offensive, there were approximately 100,000 French casualties, 26,000 British casualties and 90,000 German casualties.

Over 4680 8th Division men were killed in the first two hours.