Date of Death:12/05/1917
Panel Ref:Bay 5
Daniel Towers was born in Oldham in 1882, his parents being Allen and Mary Jane. Allen was a cardroom minder in one of Oldham's cotton mills. Daniel had at least five siblings - William, Ann, Allen, Wallace & Albert. In 1891 the family were living at 2 Taylor Street, off Huddersfield Road in Oldham. By 1901 they had moved further up to 116 Broadbent Road in Watersheddings. That year Allen Towers senior died aged 54, Daniel was 17 and working as a piecer in a cotton mill. Daniel was still living at 116 Broadbent Road in 1911, along with his mother and younger brother Albert.
By the outbreak of war in 1914 Daniel was working as a joiner minder at the Lion Mill in Royton. Whereabouts in the town he lived is unknown but his brother William was living on Water Street in Heyside. Daniel enlisted at the outbreak of war in Oldham into the Lancashire Fusiliers and he became a member of that regiment's 10th Battalion which formed at Bury in September 1914. Not long after this, Daniel's mother Mary Jane died aged 64.
After initial training close to home, the battalion moved to Dorset to continue training and then in late May 1915 moved to the Winchester area. They, along with the rest of the 17th Division, had been selected for Home Defence duties, but this was reversed and they proceeded to France landing at Boulogne from Folkestone on the 15th of July 1915.
In February 1916, the 10th Lancashire Fusiliers found themselves manning positions near to 'The Bluff', near Ypres. This was a prominence about 30 feet above the surrounding ground which had been created from the spoil when a nearby canal had been cut. The position gave whoever controlled it an excellent observation post of the enemy positions. Most of the battalion were south of the canal with a platoon of C Company on the other side on the edge of The Bluff itself, cut off from the remainder of the battalion except for a plank footbridge across the waterway some way back from the front line.
At 15:30 on February 14th, a heavy German artillery bombardment began on the positions around the canal. There were false reports that half of A Company had wiped out but reinforcements from C Company found this report to be erroneous. Between 17:30 & 18:00 the Germans blew several mines, one of which was under The Bluff. This buried most of the platoon from C Company present there and the Germans were able to walk into their position taking most of the men prisoners. It slowly became apparent to the British that the whole of the Bluff was now in German hands.
At 04:15 the following morning a counter attack was launched by the 10th Lancashire Fusiliers along with bombers from the 6th Dorsetshire Regiment and a company of men from the York & Lancasters. The three groups of British soldiers reached the top of The Bluff and engaged the Germans there with grenades. Some men succeeded in getting into the German trench and hand to hand fighting ensued for nearly 45 minutes. The numbers of Germans were too great however and the attackers had to fall back - under attack from grenades and machine gun fire. It was apparent that the defenders were too well dug in for the size of the British force and also the attackers were hampered by a heavy snow fall that had begun. It was decided that any further counter attacks would be futile and the men withdrew.In the fighting that morning Daniel's fellow Royton man George Alfred Smith was killed along with 15 others. A little over two weeks later the British retook the positions lost, a further 3 Royton men were amongst those killed in the fighting.
After the action at The Bluff the battalion was in the Armentieres sector until May. It then left the front for rest and training until the middle of June. Around about that time Daniel Towers became one of the battalion's bombers. These were men trained in grenade throwing and was a particularly dangerous occupation, having to get in close to the enemy.
The battalion moved down to the Somme and from 23rd to 28th June it held the front line there opposite Mametz. From June 29th until July 2nd it rested at the Bois des Tailles before moving up on July 3rd to take over some former German trenches just north of Fricourt. The Battle of the Somme was by then already raging, having begun on July 1st with massive loss of life.
At 00:15 on July 5th the British artillery opened a bombardment on the German position known as Quadrangle Trench. Under cover of this bombardment the 10th Lancashire Fusiliers and 9th Northumberland Fusiliers crept to within a hundred yards of the German line. At 00:45 the men charged forward. C & D Company of the 10th Lancashire Fusiliers captured Quadrangle Trench and another position known as Shelter Alley without too much fighting - apart from on the left where they came under some rifle and machine gun fire. It was here that another Royton man, Charles Mills, was killed. By 02:00 the fighting was over and the rest of the day was spent consolidating their new position amongst the many German dead lying around them. On July 6th the men came under German bombardment and there was also contact on several occasions with German bombing parties (grenade throwers). After his death the Oldham Chronicle reported that Daniel and a few comrades had been commended by their superiors for repelling German attacks up a communications trench. It is perhaps during this fighting that that particular action took place.
At 02:00 on July 7th the men of Daniel's battalion were once more sent into the attack. Their first objective was to seize Quadrangle Support Trench and establish a defensive flank along Pearl Alley which ran northward about 500 yards east of Contalmaison. Once these were attained the second objective was to take Acid Drop Copse which lay in the angle of Quadrangle Support Trench & Pearl Alley. Once taken Acid Drop Copse was to be converted into a strong advanced post
capable of bringing fire down onto the Germans entrenched in Mametz Wood.
Quadrangle Support Trench lay over the crest of a hill and was invisible to the advancing men until they had nearly reached it. Once they had gotten over the crest they found that the trench was heavily manned, the Germans were seemingly about to launch an attack of their own. The 10th LF and 9th Northumberlands were received with heavy fire and driven back. 2 companies of the Lancashire Fusiliers managed to establish themselves in Pearl Alley and held on until daybreak.At noon the Germans launched a counter attack which expelled the British soliders fighting in Contalmaison and the men of the 10th Lancashire Fusiliers in Quadrangle Trench now found themselves sharing it with many other British soldiers from a bewildering amount of different units. Later in the day men of the 10th were involved in further fighting to support two companies of the Welsh Regiment holding onto the edge of Contalmaison. At 17:00 the battalion was withdrawn from the front line and went into the rear area at Meaulte. It's casualties had been 9 officers killed, 5 officers wounded and 393 other ranks killed and wounded. Walter Thomas from Royton was one of the many Lancashire Fusiliers killed.
The next action for the 10th Lancashire Fusiliers was on August 12th at Delville Wood but there is scant information on this. Here a raiding party attacked and occupied a German trench at the south east corner of the wood.
The curtain finally fell on the Battle of the Somme on November 18th but before that the men of Daniel Towers' battalion had one last relatively small involvement in it. On November 3rd they attacked German positions near Gueudecourt. D Company were to make a frontal attack while a platoon of C Company was to move on the flank with the whole operation being supported by artillery and machine guns. Mud prevented D Company from making any headway at all. It was waist high and many men were stuck in it for the complete day and then had to be dug out often leaving their boots,socks and trousers in it. The platoon of C Company were unfortunately an easy target for the enemy's machine guns and shrapnel barrage.
The 10th Lancashire Fusiliers next major combat was to be near Arras in May 1917. Before that they had some six weeks of rest and training in the rear before moving forward in early April.The Battle of Arras began on April 9th and it was that day that they reached Arras after a march through snow. After some delay they were given shelter in old houses and cellars on the eastern edge of the town, near to where the front line had been that morning. It was very cold and the men were in great discomfort. For the next few days they were in the cellars in reserve under 50 minutes notice to move.
On the evening of April 11th they marched forward to occupy some reserve trenches. Snow began to fall and lasted through most of the night. After covering three miles in three hours the men waited in a field to await further orders. They were there four hours and were described as "a cold, shivering mass of humanity, it's only protection from the wind and snow it's battle kit". Early in the morning of April 12th they occupied former German trenches on the slopes of Orange Hill to the south east of the village of Feuchy. On April 18th they were relieved and moved into cellars in the Arras suburb of St.Sauveur. The last of the major fighting of the Battle of Arras came to an end on May 4th 1917 but activity continued in the area to distract from the British preparations for their next offensive near Ypres. The 10th Lancashire Fusiliers were to play a part in this 'activity' and took over a part of the front line south of Gavrelle on 11th May.
At 06:30 the following morning they attacked with their objective being to capture two German trenches opposite and to establish six forward posts beyond them. The attack was made by three of the battalion's four companies but the Germans were evidently expecting them and their artillery barrage came down upon the men as soon as the advance had begun. The first wave of the left company (A) was held up a short distance from the German line by artillery,rifle and machine gun
fire but was carried forward by the second wave of men. The men of A Company fought in the German trench for half an hour with bayonet and grenade whilst under constant attack from both flanks. They were eventually forced out and the survivors found themselves back in their original start positions. On the battalion's centre the majority of B Company were mown down by machine gun fire.A small number of men managed to get into the trench with A Company and joined their fight there. The survivors of B Company, like those of A, were forced back into their own trenches. On the right, D Company never reached the German trench and suffered heavily from the same machine gun that had torn through the ranks of B Company. The survivors of all three companies were then treated to German shelling of their trenches for most of the day. The stretcher bearers showed great bravery going out in daylight to bring in wounded men and others managed to crawl back during the night. The day's butcher's bill was that the battalion had lost as casualties 13 officers and 226
other ranks. Daniel Towers was one of those killed.
The Oldham Chronicle was later to report that Daniel had been wounded four times during his time at the front, unfortunately he did not survive his fifth. Brother William Towers received official notification back in Heyside on Wednesday June 6th 1917. As well as the Royton War Memorial and the Arras Memorial, Daniel is commemorated at St.Mark's Church in Heyside.
The other men of the 10th Lancashire Fusiliers killed that day near Gavrelle were:
ALLWOOD SAMUEL 18 Private 31474 from Gateshead
ANSLOW HARRY 28 Private 37983 from Manchester
ARROWSMITH JOSEPH 19 Private 39929 from Gorton,Manchester
ASHTON WILLIAM 24 Lance Corporal 28522 from Whitefield
ATKINSON EDWARD 21 Corporal 24798 from Lancaster
BAILEY ERNEST Private 37988 from Manchester
BALL JOHN Private 13773 from Tyldesley
BANDY ARTHUR Private 5084 from Leigh
BINGHAM BENTINCK 27 2nd.Lt from Co.Mayo
BOYES HENRY 27 Private 41972 from Strensall,Yorks
BOYLE MICHAEL Private 4327 born Co.Mayo,enlisted Wigan
BROOKS ERNEST 39 Private 24604 from Bury
BROWN JOHN 34 Serjeant 3860 from Bradford
BURNS ROBERT 20 Private 41975 from Glasgow
CARTER HENRY 31 Private 41978 from Bournemouth
CHEETHAM JONATHAN 31 Private 39563 from Manchester
CLAY FRANK Private 22023 from Brighouse
COMYN DAVID 41 Major from Co.Galway
COXON JOHN 20 Private 25142 from Pendleton
CUNLIFFE WILLIAM Private 38000 born Salford,enlisted Manchester
DABBS EDWARD 33 Private 9163 from Patricroft
DAVIES THOMAS 29 Lance Corporal 5703 from Bridgend
DAVISON WILLIAM Private 34504 from Bolton
DELANEY THOMAS 23 Private 28143 from Middleton
DUNN JOHN Lance Corporal 4316 born Wigan,lived Salford
FARNELL JAMES Private 20362 from Edenfield,Lancs
FREEDMAN ABRAHAM Private 30854 from London
GILL JAMES Private 7743 from Liverpool
GRINDROD HARRY Private 24538 born Wardle,enlisted Rochdale
HARRISS REGINALD Captain
HASTINGS JOSEPH 2nd.Lt
HITCHINGS FREDERICK Lance Serjeant 30846 from Gloucestershire
HOLMES JOHN Lance Corporal 39570 from Manchester
HOPWOOD SYDNEY 26 Lance Corporal 39552 from Manchester
HUGHES AMOS Private 28145 from Manchester
JARVIS RONALD Private 24789 born Woodford Green,enlisted Walthamstow
JONES JOHN 24 Private 19909 from Manchester
KENYON WILLIAM Private 38020 born Little Hulton,enlisted Middleton
KNIGHT EDWARD 2nd.Lt
LANCELOT OSWALD Private 35642 born Manchester,lived Tottington
LEADBEATER RICHARD Private 14714 from Hammersmith,London
LORD SAMUEL Private 20055 born Bolton,enlisted Rochdale
MASKEW JABEZ 29 Private 38024 from Rochdale
MERSOM JOHN 36 Lance Corporal 39538 born Berkshire,lived Grimsby
MOONEY JAMES Private 4332 born Dudley,enlisted Wigan
NOBLE JAMES 23 Corporal 39532 from Manchester
OATES FRANK Private 39554 born Brighouse,enlisted Manchester
PARKINSON JOSEPH Private 24500 born Salford,enlisted Manchester
PASCALL WILFRED 24 Serjeant 24816 from Hucknall
PEARSON ERIC 22 Serjeant 24784 from Sheffield
PEARSON JAMES 29 Private 24344 from Newhey
PICKUP JOHN 28 Private 38033 from Rochdale
SEE ERNEST Corporal 13422 from Manchester
SEED JOHN 37 Serjeant 24808 from Preston
SHEPHERD WILLIAM Private 29794 from Pendleton
SHORE JOHN Private 241752 enlisted Rochdale
SHUTTLEWORTH RICHARD 19 Private 25690 from Preston
SIMPSON ROBERT Private 15645 from Swinton
SMITH FRED Corporal 24793 from Horwich
SMITH HENRY 22 Private 41969 from Co.Durham
SMITHIES ERNEST 23 Corporal 33737 from Middleton
STEVENS PHILIP 25 Private 39873 from Doncaster
STOREY NORMAN 21 Private 13629 from Burnley
STOTT JAMES 39 Private 20170 from Rochdale
STOTT TIMOTHY 38 Private 34954 from Bury
TAYLOR FREDERICK Private 17981 born Eccles,enlisted Salford
TEMPEST JOE 33 Private 34563 from Bacup
TYSON LEWIS Private 24302 born Keighley,enlisted Bradford
WHATMOUGH HERBERT 30 Private 24589 from Rochdale
WHITNEY ALBERT 21 Private 41991 from Chichester
WIDDOWSON JOHN Private 19182 from Derbyshire
WILLIAMS JAMES Private 10008 born Pendleton,enlisted Salford
WOOLVIN EDWARD 29 Corporal 4955 born Gloucestershire,lived Co.Durham
WYNN FREDERICK Private 19115 from Wolverhampton