LOWE, Ernest George Strong
(Service number 147189)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||15 August 1884||Place of Birth||Waimate, New Zealand|
|Date||1 July 1915||Age||30 years|
|Address at Enlistment||Canada|
|Previous Military Experience||100th Winnipeg Grenadiers (still serving)|
|Next of Kin||Alfred Ernest LOWE (father), Taitapu, Christchurch|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 10¼ inches. Weight 162 lbs. Chest measurement 36-39 inches, Complexion dark. Eyes blue. Hair dark. Vaccinated.|
|Served with||Canadian Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||3rd Battalion|
|Date||25 September 1915|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment), 3rd Battalion|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
In hospital in England?
|Date||13 May 1916||Age||30 years|
|Place of Death||Ypres, Belgium|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Notices||Sun, 22 May 1916; Waimate Daily Advertiser, 27 May 1916|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Woods Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Memorial Stone Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch (parents' plot)|
|Memorial Reference||III. D. 6. Canadian Virtual War Memorial - Page 121. Block 47C, Plot 19|
|New Zealand Memorials||Tai Tapu, Christchurch, War Memorial; Tai Tapu School Roll of Honour; Canadian Virtual War Memorial; Manitoba War Memorial|
Ernest George Strong Lowe, the eldest son of Alfred Ernest Lowe and his second wife, Elizabeth Maria née Strong, of Tai Tapu, Christchurch, was born on 15 August 1884 at Waimate. Alfred’s first wife had died just a year after their marriage. John Charles Lowe, the second son, died at 9 weeks of age and was buried at Timaru with Alfred’s first wife. Ernest was enrolled at Gleniti School in December 1889, he and his twin sister Mary leaving there in March 1890. His father served on the Waimataitai School committee, and the family moved in 1896 to Tai Tapu where Ernest attended the local school. Mr Lowe had been active in the Timaru Floral Society for some years. When he resigned from the committee in 1892, the secretary was to ask him to reconsider. In 1894 Mr Lowe was chosen for a committee to look into the beautification and improvement of the Caroline Bay surrounds. As gardener to the late Mr LeCren, he won the Blythe Memorial Cup at the Christchurch Chrysanthemum Show in 1895, a “handsome piece of silversmith’s work” that was to go on show in a shop window. Later in the same year he judged all the exhibits at the Canterbury Rose Society’s first annual show. At the farewell presentation by the Timaru Floral Society and the Chrysanthemum Club, in May 1896, the wish was “Health, prosperity, and long life to Mr Lowe and family in the future”. Sadly this would not be for son Ernest George Strong Lowe. Mr Lowe was an “enthusiast in producing the very finest products of horticulture and floriculture”, who had always endeavoured to produce the finest specimens of blooms and flowers. Mr Lowe would be missed also from the Timaru Chess Club.
Ernest’s father, Alfred, who had managed the Craighead property of Mr H. L. LeCren in Timaru, was a gardener to the notable Canterbury pioneer, Sir Heaton Rhodes, at his beautiful gardens at Otahuna, Tai Tapu, and was an authority on matters horticultural, and a notable grower of chrysanthemums and daffodils, in particular. Ernest was following in his footsteps as a gardener before his enlistment in the war effort and his subsequent death. The sale of bulbs raised by Alfred Ernest Lowe funded the building of the little stone library at Tai Tapu on land donated by Rhodes.
How did Ernest come to enlist in Canada? Ernest was working as a gardener and living at the family home at TaiTapu (1905-06 NZ electoral roll). In about 1906 he emigrated from New Zealand to Canada, where he may have had relatives. He had been living there for about ten years when he attested on 1 July 1915 at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, aged 30 years 11 months. He stood at 5 feet 10¼ inches, weighed 162 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 36-39 inches. His complexion was dark, his eyes blue and his hair dark. Vaccinated when he was 12 years old, he bore a vaccination mark on his right arm. He received anti-typhoid and other inoculations before embarkation. He was single, of Baptist Church allegiance, and, like his father, working as a gardener. His address was 831 William Avenue, Winnipeg. His nominated next-of kin was his father – Mr Alfred Ernest Lowe, Tai Tapu, Christchurch, New Zealand. Ernest was already serving with the 100th Winnipeg Grenadiers. Ernest embarked with the 3rd Battalion (Central Ontario Regiment), Canadian Infantry of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, on 25 September 1915 at Montreal, per the S.S. Corsica. Having arrived in England on 5 October 1915, he was taken on Strength with the 32nd Battalion on 6 October. Embarking for France on 17 February 1916, he proceeded on draft to the 5th Battalion on 19 February. On arrival in France he was taken on Strength, and, on 11 March, he joined his Unit with the 5th Battalion in the Field.
Private Ernest George Strong was killed in action, when his unit was located in the trenches south of Zillebeke. While he was on sentry duty and “standing to” at about 3.00 a.m. on May 13th, 1916, at Ypres, he was hit and instantly killed by a bullet from an enemy rifle - a 31 year old “Tai Tapu lad”. A death notice appeared in the Sun almost immediately after notification was received. Mrs C. G. Strong, of Waimate, remembered her eldest grandson in a notice in the Waimate Daily Advertiser – “Promoted to higher service.” From late May 1916 the name of Ernest George Strong Lowe appeared regularly in the Roll of Honour printed in the Waimate Daily Advertiser. Ernest Lowe was a parishioner at the Broadway First Baptist Church, Winnipeg, and there his name is recorded on a memorial to parishioners killed during the First World War. Private Ernest George Strong Lowe was buried in Woods Cemetery, near Ieper (Ypres), Belgium. His medals were forwarded to his father (Mr Alfred E. Lowe, “Otahuna”, Tai Tapu, Christchurch, New Zealand), as were the Plaque and Scroll, while the Memorial Cross was sent to his mother (Mrs Elizabeth M. Lowe, of the same address), in 1920-1921.
His twin sister Mary Christina Lowe served as a nurse at the Front with the New Zealand Forces in World War I, returning home invalided in May 1917. And his brother George Grigg Lowe also served with the New Zealand Forces and was wounded at Gallipoli. Mr A. E. Lowe exercised his horticultural knowledge as a judge at the Soldiers’ Queen Flower Show in Christchurch in March 1916, and was surely instrumental in the generous donation of choice daffodil bulbs from the Hon. R. H. Rhodes’s garden at Otahunu. He was one of the monthly contributors to the Tai Tapu Patriotic Society’s funds. He also made gifts to the Red Cross. All this occurred just a month or two before the death of his son Ernest. After his son’s death, Mr Lowe maintained his involvement in war matters. He spoke to a motion pertaining to the Military Service Bill at a public meeting held at Tai Tapu in July 1916. A couple of months later he made a donation towards funds to build a Y.M.C.A. hutment in France. And in December he accompanied Colonel Rhodes and the Acting Prime Minister on a visit to Hanmer with regard to laying out and preparing land for orchards for returned soldiers. At a committee meeting of the Canterbury Sweet Pea and Carnation Society, held in April 1918, Mr A. E. Lowe presented a letter from the secretary of the War Horticultural Relief Fund regarding a fund for reinstating the gardens and providing seeds and trees in the countries that have been devastated through the war. The Society resolved to do its best to assist in any way possible.
Alfred Lowe died in 1924 and his wife Elizabeth in 1926. They are buried in the Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, where their headstone bears a memorial to Ernest. The name of E. Lowe is recorded on the Tai Tapu War Memorial, beneath the inscription – “In Grateful Remembrance of the Men of the Tai Tapu District Who Fell in the Great War. To Them, Glory and Honour.” His name features also on the Tai Tapu School Roll of Honour. And his name is also recorded the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and on the Manitoba War Memorial. He is commemorated in Canada’s First World War Book of Remembrance (page 121). Two cousins of Ernest - Gordon Gilmore Lyall and William Carnegie Lyall - were killed in action, Gordon in 1917 and William in 1918, while Angus and Hugh Christopher Lyall returned home.
In mid April 1924, Tai Tapu School celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the State school. In conjunction with the jubilee celebrations, the unveiling of the roll of honour was performed by Sir E. Heaton Rhodes, Minister of Defence. The roll of honour, which was subsequently to be placed in the school, contained the names of 57 men of the Tai Tapu district who had served at the war, including 15 who had made the supreme sacrifice. Great difficulty had been experienced in tracing all who had gone from the district, and it was hoped that if some had been omitted the committee would be informed. Sir Heaton said that he would like to see such a memorial in every school. He then unveiled the roll of honour “to the glory of God and in honour of these heroes.” The National Anthem concluded the ceremony. The roll of honour is an artistic piece of work carried out in beaten copper mounted on oak. Among the names are those who made the supreme sacrifice is that of E. Lowe.
The cenotaph to the memory of the fallen soldiers of Tai Tapu was unveiled in April 1925. The service included hymns, prayers, addresses, the Benediction, the National Anthem, and at the conclusion the “Last Post” was sounded, those present standing in silence. A number of beautiful wreaths were placed at the foot of the newly unveiled memorial. Of striking design, the memorial is similar to the famous Cenotaph in London. It was constructed entirely of Charteris Bay white sandstone, with panels of marble set in and containing the various inscriptions. Just below the sarcophagus at the top of the column is the inscription: “The Great War 1914-1918. Pro Patria.” On the front panel is also the following inscription: “In grateful remembrance of the men of the Tai Tapu district who fell in the Great War. To them honour and glory.” Next come the names. On the rear panel is: “Lest we forget. They live in other lands that we may live in peace.” On separate panels set into the four sides of the base of the column are the names of the fronts in which New Zealanders saw service, i.e., France. Palestine. Egypt. and Gallipoli. Two crosses several feet in height are let in on either side of the memorial.
An article in the Selwyn Times in September 2014 featured Mike Glenday with the wallet of Ernest George Strong Lowe. He had been requested to find family of Private Lowe by Canadian George Glenday, whose father had swapped wallets with Mr Lowe while they both recovered in a hospital in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, England. A great-niece of E. G. S. Lowe is living at Tai Tapu made contact. Photographs of Corporal/Private Lowe are attached to the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (online). The caption beneath one of the photos reads “has been wounded”. A photo is also held by Selwyn Kete : Soldiers of Selwyn.
Attestation Paper (partial) - Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force [06 September 2013]; Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force - Attestation Paper (Canadian Archives) [12 August 2018]; CWGC [27 August 2013]; ‘100 NZ World War One Memorials 1914-2014’ - Helen Vail, canadiangreatwar project (google searches) [06 September 2013]; Canadian Virtual War Memorial - Veterans Affairs Canada - First World War Book of Remembrance [06 September 2013]; Canada War Graves Registers [06 September 2013]; Timaru Herald, 6 March 1889, 18 January 1892, 30 June 1892, 27 June 1893, 30 January 1894, 30 October 1895, 4 May 1896, Star, 14 December 1895, 3 March 1916, 22 May 1917, Press, 22 April 1916, 23 May 1916, 6 October 1916, 20 April 1918, 14 April 1924, 27 December 1924, 20 & 27 April 1925, 21 December 1931, 13 August 1932, Sun, 22 May 1916 [x 2], 21 July 1916, New Zealand Herald, 23 May 1916, 27 December 1924, Dominion, 25 May 1916, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 27 May 1916 [x 2], 31 May 1916, Ellesmere Guardian, 13 December 1916, New Zealand Herald, 27 December 1924 (Papers Past) [04 November 2014; 23 March 2015; 01 & 02 April 2016; 10 July 2016; 12 October 2019]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [April 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [01 April 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [April 2016]; Sydenham Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [28 July 2015]; Sydenham Cemetery headstone image - Sandy Em (Flickr Photo Sharing) [06 September 2013]; The Tai Tapu war memorial commemorates (Selwyn District Council) [04 November 2014]; Historic Sites of Manitoba: MHS War Memorial [11 Jul 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [01 April 2016]; Broadway First Baptist Church - First World War Casualties (Historic Sites of Manitoba: First Baptist Church) [12 October 2019]; Canadian Virtual War Memorial (www.veterans.gc.ca) [12 October 2019]; The Ottawa Journal, 22 May 1916; Google searches.
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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