Harold Cawley

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Harold Thomas Cawley MP, circa 1910

Captain Harold Thomas Cawley (12 June 1878 – 23 September 1915)[1] was a British barrister, Liberal Party politician and soldier.


Born at Crumpsall, he was the second son of Frederick Cawley, 1st Baron Cawley and his wife Elizabeth Smith, daughter of John Smith.[2] His younger brother was Oswald Cawley.[2] Cawley was educated at Rugby School and then at New College, Oxford, where he graduated with a Master of Arts.[3] He was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1902 and went to the Northern Circuit, working in Lancashire.[3] Two years later he joined the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Manchester Regiment.[4]


Photograph of Harold Thomas Cawley, of the Bury and District Soldiers' Memorial Book, Section 1914-1915, published by the Bury Times

In 1910, Cawley entered the British House of Commons for Heywood,[1] and a year later he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Home Secretary Reginald McKenna.[2] On the outbreak of World war I in 1914 he served with his Territorial Force battalion (now the 6th Battalion, Manchester Regiment and became aide de camp to Major-General William Douglas, the officer commanding 42nd (East Lancashire) Division.[4]


Original grave of Cawley at Gallipoli

The 42nd Division went to Gallipoli in 1915. During September the Turks exploded a series of mines in front of the British trench known as the 'Gridiron' and damaging its defences. Repairs after one mine on 22 September were covered by a bombing party of 1/6th Battalion Manchester Regiment who held the lip of the crater. The same day the Royal Engineers exploded a counter-mine and the Manchesters rushed the crater and built a barrier across it. Captain Heywood serving with 1/6th Bn was killed that night by a Turkish sniper, and the crater became known as 'Cawley's Crater'.[5][6] Before his death, he sent a letter to his father, at that time representative of Prestwich in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.[4] As a Member of Parliament the letter was not subject to military censorship, and it reported the mishandling of the Dardanelles campaign in some detail.[4] Cawley is buried at Lancashire Landing Cemetery in Gallipoli.[7]

Memorial to the Cawley brothers in St Peter and St Paul Church, Eye, Herefordshire

It was in memory of Harold and two other sons - Oswald and John - who died in the war that their father endowed a ward at Ancoats Hospital, Manchester, in 1919 at a cost of £10,000.[8] All three brothers are commemorated on the Parliamentary War Memorial in Westminster Hall. Harold and Oswald, on Panel 8, are among the 22 MPs that died during World War I to be named on that memorial. John, included on the memorial as the son of an MP, appears on Panel 2 of the memorial.[9][10][11] Harold Cawley is one of 19 MPs who fell in the war who are commemorated by heraldic shields in the Commons Chamber.[12] A further act of commemoration came with the unveiling in 1932 of a manuscript-style illuminated book of remembrance for the House of Commons, which includes short biographical accounts of the life and death of the Cawley brothers.[13][14]


  1. ^ a b "Leigh Rayment - British House of Commons". Retrieved 24 June 2009.
  2. ^ a b c "ThePeerage - Captain Harold Thomas Cawley". Retrieved 12 December 2006.
  3. ^ a b Who is Who 1914. London: Adam & Charles Black Ltd. 1914. p. 363.
  4. ^ a b c d "Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives - Cawley, Harold Thomas". Retrieved 24 June 2009.
  5. ^ Frederick E. Gibbon, The 42nd East Lancashire Division 1914–1918, London: Country Life, 1920/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2003, ISBN 1-84342-642-0, p. 53.
  6. ^ Debrett, John (1918). Arthur G. M. Hesilrige, ed. Debrett's House of Commons and Judicial Bench. London: Dean & Son. pp. XXIV.
  7. ^ "Casualty Details: Cawley, Harold Thomas". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  8. ^ Brockbank, E. M., ed. (1929). The Book of Manchester and Salford Written for the 97th Annual Meeting of the British Medical Association. Manchester: George Falkner. pp. 126–27.
  9. ^ "Recording Angel memorial Panel 2". Recording Angel memorial, Westminster Hall. UK Parliament (www.parliament.uk). Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Recording Angel memorial Panel 8". Recording Angel memorial, Westminster Hall. UK Parliament (www.parliament.uk). Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  11. ^ "List of names on the Recording Angel memorial, Westminster Hall" (pdf). Recording Angel memorial, Westminster Hall. UK Parliament (www.parliament.uk). Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Cawley, Harold". Heraldic shields to MPs, First World War. UK Parliament (www.parliament.uk). Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  13. ^ "House of Commons War Memorial: Final Volumes Unveiled by The Speaker". The Times (46050). London. 6 February 1932. p. 7.
  14. ^ Moss-Blundell, Edward Whitaker, ed. (1931). The House of Commons Book of Remembrance 1914–1918. E. Mathews & Marrot.

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Harold Cawley
  • Church memorials
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Edward Hopkinson Holden
Member of Parliament for Heywood
January 1910 – 1915
Succeeded by
Albert Holden Illingworth
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