Private Donald Gordon Gowar

Date of Birth c. 1898
Age at Death 19
Date of Death 30 December 1917
Service Number 37029
Military Service 3rd Battalion Norfolk Regiment
Merton Address 11 Caithness Road, Mitcham
Local Memorial Mitcham War Memorial

Additional Information

Donald’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1899 at Lewisham but in the 1911 census it shows Forest Hill as his birthplace. These two places are extremely close to each other in south-east London. Donald was baptised on 5 August 1900 in Ramsgate, Kent. In 1901 Donald lived with his father, George Joseph, a printer, and his mother, Maud Marie at 8 Glasford Street, Tooting Graveney, along with siblings Gertrude Maud, Harold Vernon and Grace. In 1905-06 the family lived at 53 Tynemouth Road, Tooting Graveney.

By 1909 the family had moved to 18 Greyhound Terrace, Lonesome, and grown with the addition of Laura Eileen and John Frederick. Donald’s father died on the 3rd March that year. In the 1911 census the family were living at 29 Greyhound Terrace, Streatham Common and Donald’s mother, Maud, was shown as a nurse (sick nurse). Donald was away from home when the census was taken, visiting a Mr. & Mrs. Edmunds nearby at 75 Marian Road, Streatham.

Donald enlisted at Kingston and was posted to the 3rd Battalion Norfolk Regiment. This was a reserve and training battalion. Donald was one of 2,200 soldiers, sent to reinforce the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in the Palestine Campaign against the Ottoman Empire, travelling on His Majesty’s Troopship Aragon to Alexandria. They reached Malta on 23 December, where they celebrated Christmas. On 30 December 1917, the Aragon sailed into Alexandria harbour, but was ordered out of the harbour and returned to sea. The reason is not clear, but it is possible that either no berth was available, or that the area was being searched for mines. Immediately having cleared the harbour she was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine, UC-34. After initially rescuing many survivors, their escort Destroyer, the HMS Attack which came to the aid of the Aragon, was also sunk. Donald sadly was one of the 610 casualties who drowned on that day.

Donald was awarded the British War Medal. After the war, Donald’s mother, Maud, received his war gratuity and other monies owed to him, while living at 11 Caithness Road, Mitcham. She died in1952 aged 85.

Donald is buried at Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery. The headstone inscription, chosen by his mother, reads “HARD IS THE PARTING BUT GOD KNOWETH BEST”. Donald is also remembered on the Mitcham War Memorial.


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