George Cowley

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This is a backup of the West Yorkshire Archive Service's "Off the Record" wiki from 2015. The live went offline in 2016 and remains unavailable.

George Cowley was enlisted into the Yorkshire Dragoons Territorial Army in 1925. He joined 'C' Squadron, Queens Own Yorkshire Dragoons and was promoted to Squadron Quarter Master Sergeant in 1934. On August 24th 1939 the unit was mobilised and left Huddersfield for training in the Malton area on 16 Sept 1939 before leaving to serve abroad in December of the same year.

They landed at Haifa, Palestine and were engaged with the internal security of the area, being stationed at Sarafand, Latrun, Karkur, Hadera Karkur, Gedera, Rehovot, Acre, Rosh Pinna, Malkier, Sa Sa and Juella.

He left Rosh Pinna for the Syrian Campaign against Vichy French in May 1941. In January 1942 he returned to Palestine and was stationed at Azzib where he was involved with border control on the Syria/Palestine border. It was during this campaign that he took part in the last mounted cavalry action of the British army.In his reminiscences, George Cowley notes that they 'lost our horses at Azzib March 1942'. From here he was transferred to Egypt where he was stationed near the Pyramids and acted as Quartermaster for the Decoy Regiment. All this coincided with preparing for the Alamein battle.

During the Battle of Alamein, his job was to take up supplies of ammunition, fuel, water and food to the forward troops where he was under constant fire from enemy aircraft. Following the Battle of Alamein, George was promoted to Squadron Sgt Major and transferred to 'A' Squadron. After seeing action in Tripoli, 'A' Squadron joined up with the 1st Army and fought at Goubellat Palin, Jebel Khournine, Grombalia, Hamma Lif to Cap Bon and then to Tunis. In 1944 during the battle of Anzio, he was captured by the Germans and spent the remainder of the war in captivity.

He flew home from Nuremburg in May 1945 and was reunited with his family after six years away.

George W Cowley was awarded the 1939/45 Star, Africa Star with 8th Army Clasp, Italian Star, British War Defence Medal, Coronation Medal, Territorial Medal. He was also mentioned in dispatches in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East.

George Cowley's correspondence as a prisoner of war is held at WYAS, Kirklees WYK1285