- Place of Use Continent - North America, Country - Canada
- Category Communication artifacts
- Sub-category Personal symbol
- Department Arms and Technology
- Museum CWM
- Earliest 1918/01/31
- Latest 1920/12/31
- Inscription (obverse/avers): HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR GEORGE TREMAINE COWAN; E.C.P.; 14; (reverse/verso): W
- Materials Bronze
- Rank Corporal
- Service Component Canadian Expeditionary Force
- Unit 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion
- Person / Institution Subject, Cowan , M.M., Corporal George Tremaine
- Measurements Thickness 0.5 cm, Outside Diameter 12.0 cm
- Caption Medals Project- Cowan, George Tremaine
George Tremaine Cowan was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on 30 June 1890. He was the son of John and Julia Cowan.
Cowan was employed as a salesman before enlisting in the 5th Royal Highlanders of Canada at Valcartier Camp, Quebec, on 23 September 1914. In the chaos surrounding the formation of the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force — which saw men moved from unit to unit in quick succession — Cowan was transferred to the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion while still at Valcartier.
On 3 October 1914, Cowan sailed to England on RMS Alaunia as part of the First Contingent. After training on Salisbury Plain for four months, the Contingent was shipped to France in February 1915. In early April, Cowan suffered from a bout of gastritis that saw him twice receive treatment at field ambulance stations. Nevertheless, he was fit for service by the start of the Second Battle of Ypres. Two days after the battle, he was promoted to the rank of lance corporal. Eleven months later, he was promoted once again, this time to corporal.
Cowan was killed in action near Zillebeke, Belgium, on 27 June 1916. A shell burst outside the doorway of a dugout in which he was sheltering. Pieces of the shell entered the opening, instantly killing him. His body was not recovered.
On 22 August 1916, Cowan was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for his actions at the Battle of Mount Sorrel. According to the citation, Cowan’s character was “exemplary”, and he took control of his platoon and directed the consolidation of a defensive position after his company’s senior non-commissioned officers and the company commander were wounded. The citation also notes that Cowan had shown great resourcefulness and ability at the Second Battle of Ypres, at the Battle of Festubert, and during trench warfare at Messines.
George Tremaine Cowan is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium, and in the Field of Honour, St. John's General Protestant Cemetery.
“At the attack on Sanctuary Wood this N.C.O. displayed great coolness and resource. His C.S.M. was hit also his Company Commander, whom he placed in a place of safety, and then collected the men of his platoon and reorganized digging parties consolidating. He has been through the Battles of Ypres and Festubert May, 1915, when he displayed marked resourcefulness, and ability. In trench warfare at Messines he did excellent patrol work. His character is an exemplary one, and his services deserve recognition.”
– London Gazette , 23 August 1916, Supplement 29719beard