Private Richard Cowe

Private Richard Cowe, 16th ( 2nd Edinburgh ),Battalion, Royal Scots. He was killed in action in France, aged 34, on 1st July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He had been born in Selkirk in 1882 to William and Jane Cowe but had moved to Edinburgh where he was employed as a cask maker and was a cooper when he enlisted in November 1914. He was the husband of Mary Cowe of 28 Milton Street, Edinburgh and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Thiepval, Somme, France. The 16th R.S. was known as ” McRae’s Battalion” after it was founded in November 1914 by Sir George McRae ( pictured below ). It originally comprised professional footballers and their fans from Heart of Mid Lothian, Hibernian, Falkirk, Dunfermline and Raith Rovers. The Battalion of 20 Officers and 790 Other Ranks attacked at Contalmaison. alongside their comrades in the 15th ( Service ) Battalion, Royal Scots. Some gains were made in the face of strong German resistance and counter attacks beaten off. Between the 1st and the 3rd July the Battalion suffered casualties of 12 Officers and 460 Other Ranks. The photo shows British troops attacking across a very wide no mans land on that fateful day when the British Army suffered nearly 60,000 casualties, including 19,000 fatalities. The colour image shows a peaceful Somme landscape today with “no gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now”.

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