Cyril Gowland was born in 1894. He grew up at Mawson Green, Sykehouse where his father was a pig farmer. He didn’t go into farming himself, taking a position as apprentice draper with the Trimingham family at their Thorne shop.
Both Cyril and his elder brother, Edwin Cass Gowland, joined the army and served in the Great War. Cyril served as a sergeant in the 11th Battalion Duke of Cambridge Own (Middlesex) Regiment. This battalion had been raised as part of Kitchener’s New Army recruitment drive.
In February 1917, Cyril’s battalion were resting and training prior to a series of operations designed to push back German forces. Cyril’s role in this was as bomb-throwing instructor.
The weather was atrocious, bitterly cold with alternate frost and thawing making conditions in the trenches treacherous. French villages and countryside had been blasted almost to pieces by shell fire and communications were almost impossible. The German army had begun a retreat back to a stronger position and the appalling weather conditions made it difficult to keep tabs on them. Sergeant Cyril Gowland was killed in action, presumed to have died during the operations of The Actions of Miraumont, which aimed to take the Allied front line forward and gain possession of high ground.
His captain wrote of him, ‘He was one of the most promising and valued N.C.O.S in the battalion. An able and clear headed sergeant whom I could trust absolutely.’
Cyril was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. He was buried in the cemetery at Faubourg D’Amiens Arras Part 1 A-L. His brother Edwin did survive the war, dying in 1951 aged 62.