Scots WWI soldier Cowie dubbed real 'Private Ryan'

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Scots WWI soldier Cowie dubbed real 'Private Ryan'

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 15 aug 2011, 11:05

The daughter of a Scottish soldier spared from fighting in World War I has travelled to Scotland to learn more about her family's history.

Frank Hamilton Cowie has been dubbed Scotland's "real life Private Ryan".

He was recalled from service in France after his mother pleaded with the authorities because three of her sons had already died on the front line.

Judy Barrett travelled from South Africa to see documents about her father still held in Scotland.

Archivists at National Records of Scotland highlighted Mr Cowie's case last year.

It was one of the most extraordinary of the thousands decided by the Lothian and Peebles Military Appeal Tribunal.

The records document the case of men who appealed against their compulsory call-up for military service following the introduction of conscription in 1916.

The reasons ranged from conscientious objection, ill health, personal or family hardship, to claims for exemption because their work was important to the national interest.
Terrible price

Elsie Cowan, from Glasgow, pleaded for her son Frank to serve at home because four of her sons had already gone to war and three had been killed in 1915. The fourth was wounded.

The tribunal granted Mr Cowie exemption for the rest of the war on the grounds of hardship.

He later moved to South Africa, where he died in 1975.

Mr Cowie's family said he had spoken about the terrible price his family paid in World War I, and how he had been recalled from service in France.

His youngest daughter Judy said: "After the film Saving Private Ryan came out we, as a family, remarked on the similarity in the story.

"We felt very privileged and had a strong sense that we might not be here if it were not for that decision.

"I really feel that my father's story needs to be told, and I wish my two sisters and my daughter could have been here with me. Coming to Scotland has been an emotional journey."

Speaking from South Africa, Wendy Jackson, Mr Cowie's second daughter, said: "My father was, like many Scots, not inclined to easily reveal emotion, but he obviously felt very deeply about his brothers' end.

"What this did to his mother, whom I never met, was always of concern to him."




Secret of 'lost' brother of tragic WWI family

Published Date: 27 June 2011
By Fiona MacLeod
HE WAS the youngest of five brothers, spared from the trenches of the First World War in which three of his siblings were killed and a fourth was injured.
But what became of Frank Cowie remained a mystery to researchers who uncovered his remarkable story during the release of previously secret files from the National Archives of Scotland.

Now, following an appeal for relatives of the Scottish soldier to come forward, the tale of the rest of his life can finally be told.

Mr Cowie was granted an exemption from overseas service in 1916 by Lothian and Peebles Conscription Appeal Board.

The rare move was made on the grounds of "exceptional hardship" after his mother, Elsie, wrote and begged them to spare her youngest son, who was then just 19.

Archivists were intrigued and last year appealed to the public to find his descendants.

Now, they have discovered that Mr Cowie did not waste the chance he was given to survive the Great War.

His daughter, Judy Barrett, travelled to Edinburgh at the weekend to reveal the tale of Scotland's real "Private Ryan".

She said her father had emigrated to Nigeria to work in farming but eventually settled in South Africa with a large family.

Now living in Southampton, she revealed how she had discovered the archivists were looking for her.

"My grandson Joshua, ten, was asked to trace his family history for a school project, so his dad, my son, Graham, searched the internet and came across the story online," she said.

The family believe Mr Cowie had already been serving behind the front line in France when his exemption was granted and he was called home.

After the war, he moved first to Nigeria, then Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, where he worked as a trader with the Arab camel trains coming off the desert. He was then head-hunted by a major importing firm in South Africa's East London city.

Another daughter, Wendy Jackson, who still lives in East London, said: "My father was, like many Scots, not inclined to easily reveal emotion, but he obviously felt very deeply about his brothers' end and the fact that Norman, his surviving brother, ended the war in hospital with one lung left, due to gassing.

"What this did to his mother, whom I never met, was always of concern to him. 1915: three sons killed and a fourth wounded."

The first brother to be killed was John, who died in France in February 1915 on the Western Front. James died in July the same year while serving with the navy, and Lindsay died two months later in the Battle of Loos.

Mr Cowie's first wife died from cancer after the couple had three children - Diana, Wendy and John. He went on to meet Judy's mother, who already had two daughters from a previous marriage.

Ms Barrett said: "We always used to sit at the table for dinner and talk - that was very important to my father. Knowledge was important to him - we'd regularly have quizzes at the table."

A devout Christian, he had a strong sense of values. Ms Barrett said: "Looking back, I can see that he was aware of how fortunate he had been - he really had that attitude that you had to grab life, to grab every minute."

She said her father remained close to his Scottish family, coming home when he could.

On his death in 1975 aged 79, he had become such a well-known businessman that his passing was recorded in his local paper in South Africa. It revealed he had had a hostel named after him after helping to raise funds to help build the refuge.


NEC JACTANTIA NEC METU ("zonder woorden, zonder vrees")

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Re: Scots WWI soldier Cowie dubbed real 'Private Ryan'

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 15 aug 2011, 11:07

Een beetje een gelijkaardig verhaal uit mijn dorp:

NEC JACTANTIA NEC METU ("zonder woorden, zonder vrees")

Avatar:De Siciliaanse vlag,oorspronkelijk uit 1282,de triskelion (trinacria) in het midden,is van oorsprong een oud Keltisch zonnesymbool.


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Re: Scots WWI soldier Cowie dubbed real 'Private Ryan'

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 15 aug 2011, 12:00

John Maitland Reid Cowie and Elspet Williamson, had a total of six children, five boys and one girl. By the end of 1915, three of them had been killed.

The first to lose his life was 22-year-old Private John Cameron Cowie. Serving in the 9th (Glasgow Highlanders) Battalion, Highland light infantry, John was killed in action on 28 februari 1915. At the time his battalion had been in the trenches at Pont Tournant near Cuinchy, east of Béthune. In the words of its War Diary, the battalion was undertaking "front line fatigues" at the time and was due to be relieved - through the break was seemingly much needed. "The men are now becoming badly in need of a rest," noted the Adjutant, "having been working in the front line without interruption since januari 20th.

The next brother to fall was Able Seaman James Williamson Cowie. Commemorated on the Helles Memorial, James died on 31 july 1915, whilst serving in the Nelson Battalion, Royal Naval Division, during the Gallipoli Campaign.

Only a matter of weeks passed before the third of the brothers was killed. Private Lindsay Cowie died during the first day of the Battle of Loos on 25 september 1915, whilst serving in the 7th Battalion, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. Like his brother James, Lindsay's body was never found or identified and he was initialli posted as missing. Today he is remembered on the Loos Memorial.

For the Cowie family, the bad news kept coming.Following the deaths of his brothers, Norman Maitland Cowie was gassed and seriously injured whilst fighting on the Western Front.

Then, in 1916, the youngest of the Cowie boys, Frank Hamilton Cowie, a warehouseman in Glasgow, was conscripted into the Army. For his mother, the fear and anxiety over his safety proved too much to bear. On 20 february 1916, an appeal was lodged with the Lothian and Peebles Military Appeal Tribunal requesting that Frank be exempted "from Foreign Service or possibly to be discharged".

During the process that dragged on until 27 march 1917, Mrs Cowie wrote that of "our five soms who have joined up at the commencement of the war we have already lost three. The fourth has now gone to France for the third time, having been twice previously wounded there. I appeal that Frank, our fifth and youngest, be put to some national service where he could be at home."

The Tribunal agreed and on 23 august 1917, granted and exemption "for liability for service overseas".
In scenes reminiscent of the film Saving Private Ryan, Frank later told his family that he was in France, but not at the front, when he was recalled home. He served out the war in de Army Signal Corps at Dunstable, Bedfordshire, becoming an instructor.
Frank Cowie died in East London in 1975.

In 2010, archivists at National Records of Scotland highlighted Frank Cowie's remarkable story, describing it as a "most extraordinary" example of the many decided upon by the Lothian and Peebles Military Appeal Tribunal.

As a result, one of Frank's daughters, recently travelled to Scotland to learn more about het family's history. "After the film Saving Private Ryan came out we, as a family, remarked on the similarity in the story," she said. "We felt very privileged and had astrong sense that we might not be here if it were not for that decision."

Mr Cowie's second daughter from South Africa said: "My father was, like many Scots, not inclined to easily reveal emotion, but he obviously felt very deeply about his brothers' end. What this did to his mother...was always of concern to him."

Meer info van Frank Cowie en de archieven van de Lothian and Peebles Military Appeal Tribunal vindt je hier:


NEC JACTANTIA NEC METU ("zonder woorden, zonder vrees")

Avatar:De Siciliaanse vlag,oorspronkelijk uit 1282,de triskelion (trinacria) in het midden,is van oorsprong een oud Keltisch zonnesymbool.


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Re: Scots WWI soldier Cowie dubbed real 'Private Ryan'

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 15 aug 2011, 12:15

An extract from part of the record of Frank Cowie's Military Appeal Tribunal case, vindt je hier:



Op de zoekpagina volgend referentienummer invullen HH30/18/4/36, ongeveer in het midden van de pagina heb je drie Word-documenten over Frank Cowie.

NEC JACTANTIA NEC METU ("zonder woorden, zonder vrees")

Avatar:De Siciliaanse vlag,oorspronkelijk uit 1282,de triskelion (trinacria) in het midden,is van oorsprong een oud Keltisch zonnesymbool.


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