NORMAN LAWRENCE COWARD

Private 27078, 5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards)

Died 28th March 1918 aged 21

Buried Ham British Cemetery, Muille-Villette, France

Son of George and Alice Coward

Lived 23, Brighton Terrace, Heckmondwike


Norman was the son of George and Alice Coward.  George was from Womersley near Pontefract and his mother, Alice Tolson, was born in Batley Carr.  George was a Farm Bailiff and Norman was a Farm Labourer before moving to Heckmondwike where he worked for the Liversedge Coal Company at Dymond Pit.

His mother received a letter informing her of his death, the letter read “I am very sorry to inform you that your son was killed in action on March 28th.  I am afraid it would be a bitter blow for you and all in his company extend their sympathy to you.  It will be some slight consolation to you to know that his regiment did splendidly and they fought like heros and that he met a soldiers death in his country’s cause F. B. Parkin Captain

A wounded Sergeant spoke eloquently of Norman saying of his (Norman’s) cheerfulness and bravery at all times.

On the 21st the St Michael offensive began and Norman’s Battalion was ordered to Amiens to meet the German attack.  The Battalion fought a rearguard action which resulted in a nine mile withdrawal from Hancourt to Amiens.
 
The Fifth Army had been spread thin on a 42-mile front lately taken over from the exhausted and demoralised French. The Germans ought to have broken through to Paris but were prevented by the heroism of the Fifth Army and its utter refusal to break.  They fought a 38-mile rearguard action, contesting every village, field and, on occasion, yard ... With no reserves and no strongly defended line to its rear, and with eighty German divisions against fifteen British, the Fifth Army fought the Somme offensive to a standstill on the Ancre, not retreating beyond Villers-Bretonneux.

These defensive operations cost the 5th Battalion, The Green Howards, 372 casualties amongst whom was Norman Coward.
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