CWG: Private Thomas Lowes

Private Thomas Lowes

TJ Lowes is another of those names that challenges you to find out more about their lives. A quick search against the surname and service number identified the full name of Thomas James Lowes, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website confirms he was the husband of Mary Lowes.

There is enough circumstantial evidence available to suggest a particular set of records, but nothing to fully connect this gravestone to those records.

Based on that documentation, this is what I believe to be the Thomas James Lowes’ life.

Thomas James Lowes was born in Chatham, Kent, in 1863. One of eight children, his parents were Joseph and Jane Lowes, who came from Durham. Joseph was a shipwright, and moved the family to Hampshire in around 1860, before settling in Kent a year or so later. Given his trade, it the sea ports were an obvious draw, and he found work in the Naval Dockyard in Chatham.

When he left school, Thomas found work as a painter, and this was work that stood him in good stead all his life. He started decorating houses, but soon found employment in the dockyard.

Joseph died at some point in the 1880s, and by the 1891 census, Thomas was living at home with his mother and three of his younger siblings, all working to bring money in.

It was later that year that he got married, to a woman called Mary. The couple went on to have two children – Elsie (who was born in Sutton, Surrey) and Thomas Jr (who was born back in Kent). The young family came to live close to the dockyard again, as this is where Thomas was obviously earning his living.

War was on the horizon and, while Thomas’ full service records do not exist, it’s been possible to piece some bits together. He enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps early on in the conflict, and worked as a farrier for No. 2 Company Depot. From here on in, however, Private Lowes’ documentation becomes confusing.

The Army Register of Soldier’s Effects confirms the service number documented elsewhere – T4/234931 – and that he passed away on 20th November 1916. It states that the the money was passed to his father, Thomas, which doesn’t tally up with the other records.

The other documentation available – the Pension Ledger and Index Cards – all include the Private Lowes’ service number, but give his widow , Mary Lowes, as his beneficiary.

Thomas contracted pneumonia while on active service; he was admitted to the Royal Herbert Hospital in Woolwich, but succumbed to the illness on 20th November 1916. He was 53 years old.

Thomas James Lowes was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent.

Private Thomas Lowes

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