Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Private David Bowen, 2nd Battalion (City of London), the Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action on the Somme.
One of seven children of a general labourer, he left school at an early age and worked as a farm labourer until he was twenty-two years of age. He then moved to Manchester to take up lodgings with relatives to work as a teamsman at a nearby farm. In January of 1915 he enlisted at Manchester with the Royal Field Artillery, but was soon transferred to the Royal Fusiliers. He arrived at Gallipoli on the 15th of December that year, and was involved in heavy fighting – his battalion was evacuated to Egypt on the 7th of January in 1916, and in March was sent to France. They sailed to Marseilles and then travelled on to the area east of Pont Remy. Private Bowen was known to be in the worst part of the line at the commencement of the Battle of the Somme on the 1st of July, where his battalion suffered heavy losses, half being either killed or wounded.
The exact circumstances of Private Bowen’s death five months later do not seem to be clear – the letter sent to his parents (a typed form letter with spaces for personal details) has “place not stated” hand-written where the location of death is required. Private Bowen has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, at Thiepval, Picardy, in France. Two of his brothers enlisted with him: Private Edward Bowen of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers died while in service in February of 1917, and Gunner Richard Bowen of the Royal Field Artillery survived the war and lived until 1955.
David, from Newbridge, Meifod, in Montgomeryshire, was 27 years old.