16 May 2010

LOWER Henry Charles


Ordinary Seaman J/33102 Royal Navy
Died on Wednesday 2nd January 1918
Buried at Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, Greece, Grave 1746

Henry Lower was born in Burgess Hill, Sussex, on 15th February 1899, the son of Henry and Mary Ann Lower. His parents were married in Lancing in March 1895, and moved away to Burgess Hill, but by the time of the 1911 census, Mary Ann was widowed, and the family were living with her father and adult brothers at 9 Salt Lake, Lancing, with Mary Ann employed as a dressmaker.

On leaving school Henry worked as a market gardener, but in November 1913 at the age of fourteen he joined the Royal Navy, and on February 15th 1917, his eighteenth birthday, he moved from Boy Service to a permanent twelve year engagement. His service did not go unnoticed by the local papers, and this account was carried in the Worthing Gazette on December 20th 1916:

SERVING HIS COUNTRY - The Gazette is informed that Henry Lower, only son of Mrs. Lower of Salt Lake, Lancing, has been in the Royal Navy more than two years, and is now only seventeen. He went to Devonport on H.M.S. Impregnable in November 1914, and was home on leave at Christmas that year. In the following May he went out to the Dardanelles on the Endymion, and has not been home on leave since that period. The several vessels on which he has since seen service are the Cornwallis, the Europa, and the Edgar. Two of his friends also joined the Navy. One of them, William Burtenshaw, died of spotted fever two months after he joined; whilst Ernest Glasspool, who also went out to the Dardanelles, has been discharged. The correspondent who supplies the Gazette with these details thinks it very desirable that the public should know what our young lads are doing, whilst there are older ones idling their time away at home.

By this time in 1916 conscription had been introduced, so those 'older ones' may have had good reasons for still being at home, but many of these reports were initiated by families wanting to make public the fact that they had sons serving their country - this seemed to give them status in the community and a feeling of unity with others in a similar situation. Some of the details of service in the newspaper do not fully agree with the service record. The official record shows his movements as follows:

17 November 1913 - 4 February 1915: Boy 2, H.M.S. Impregnable 5 February 1914 - 17 June 1915: Boy 1, H.M.S. Impregnable 18 June 1915 - 16 August 1915: Boy 1, H.M.S. Cornwallis 17 August 1915 - 8 September 1915: Boy 1, H.M.S. Europa 9 September 1915 - 14 February 1917: Boy 1, H.M.S. Edgar 15 February 1917 - 2 January 1918: Ordinary Seaman, H.M.S. Edgar Report 31 December 1917: Character: Good Ability: Good

The last entry in Henry Lower's service record comes just two days after the last report on his character and ability:

Date of Death: 2nd January 1918 Cause of Death: Pneumonia

So Henry Lower succumbed not to enemy action, but to illness, as did so many men during the course of the war. He is buried at Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, Greece. I've been able to visit and photograph many of the graves and memorials of local men. Unfortunately Henry Lower's grave, as one of the furthest away of all the Lancing men, may be more difficult than many of the others.


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