Private John William Richardson Cowell


John William Richardson Cowell was born in 1878 at Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, England, one of at least four children of blacksmith James Cowell and his wife Elizabeth. Cowell grew up with his family in Durham. By 1901 he was working as a coal miner. In 1911 he was living at 20 Hume Street, Spennymoor and working as a coal washery labourer.

Cowell enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 13 and 19 May 1915 (No.1554 – later Corps of Hussars No.71439).

The Belfast News-Letter of 12 July 1915 reported on a cricket match between the North Irish Horse and Cliftonville, with "Trooper Cowell" part of the NIH team. (He was dismissed without scoring.)

On 22 September that year he embarked for France, where he was posted to A or D Squadron, probably the latter – the war diary for that squadron records the arrival of a sergeant and eight other ranks on 5 October and a corporal and nine other ranks six days later.

In May 1916 A, D and E Squadrons came together to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX and then V Corps.

On 7 January 1918 Cowell was part of a draft of thirteen men from the 1st Regiment transferred to the Tank Corps (No.305504). He remained with that regiment for the duration of the war.