yeovil at War

Albert Bowden

Died in the Battle of Hill 60, Flanders

 

Albert Bowden was born in Yeovil in 1880, the son of glover John Bowden and his glove machinist wife Lilian. Albert's brother Bernard was born 16 years later. In the 1891 census John, Lydia and 11-year old Albert were living at Stone's Lane, Stoke-under-Ham, just a few miles to the west of Yeovil.

In 1894 Albert's father died and in the winter of 1898 his mother was remarried at Yeovil to Walter Shoemark. In the 1911 census Walter and Lilian were living at Eglwysilan, Glamorganshire, South Wales. Walter was a colliery labourer. Living with them were 30-year old Albert and 14-year old Bernard, both listed as Walter's step-sons, Walter and Lilian's three daughters; Katie, Bessie and Julia. Albert gave his occupation as 'Labourer, Underground' which was, presumably, labouring in a coal mine.

Albert enlisted, probably at the outbreak of war, at Abertidwr, Glamorganshire and at this time his address was 53 Stanley Street, Senghenydd. He became Private Albert Bowden (Service No 3/8455) of the 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment. This was a regular, rather than a Territorial Battalion. The 1st Battalion was in Britain on the outbreak of the First World War and so deployed straight to the Western Front, where it stayed throughout the conflict.

The 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment, and therefore Albert Bowden, was engaged in various actions on the Western Front during 1914 including the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, the Battle of Le Cateau and the Affair of Crepy-en-Valois, the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne, the Battles of La Bassee and Messines and the First Battle of Ypres. In early 1915 the Battalion fought in the Second Battle of Ypres and the Capture of Hill 60.

The battle area known as Hill 60 was so called on British military maps because the contoured height of the ground was marked at 60 metres above sea level. This high ground was man-made in the 1850s, having been created by the spoil from the cutting for the railway line between Ypres and Comines.

It was the scene of desperate fighting in April and May 1915 between the British and German armies. The launch of a British attack on 17th April 1915 began with the explosion of three mines which literally blew the top off the hill. Hundreds of soldiers lost their lives on this small area of ground at that time.

Albert Bowden was one of the early casualties of this battle and was most likely hospitalised at Boulogne, which was one of the three base ports most extensively used by the Commonwealth armies on the Western Front throughout the First World War. It was closed and cleared on the 27 August 1914 when the Allies were forced to fall back ahead of the German advance, but was opened again in October and from that month to the end of the war, Boulogne and Wimereux formed one of the chief hospital areas. Sadly Albert died from his wounds on 27 April 1915. He was aged 35.

Albert Bowden was buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Grave VIII.A.26. His name is inscribed on the Senghenyydd War Memorial, however his name is not inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough.

 

Other Yeovil men buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery include - Henry Hardy, Horace Heard and William Warren.

 

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Hill 60. 1915.

 

Albert's name is inscribed on the Senghenyydd War Memorial

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Albert Bowden.

 

Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

Boulogne, was one of the three base ports most extensively used by the Commonwealth armies on the Western Front throughout the First World War. It was closed and cleared on the 27 August 1914 when the Allies were forced to fall back ahead of the German advance, but was opened again in October and from that month to the end of the war, Boulogne and Wimereux formed one of the chief hospital areas.

Until June 1918, the dead from the hospitals at Boulogne itself were buried in the Cimetiere de L'Est, one of the town cemeteries, the Commonwealth graves forming a long, narrow strip along the right hand edge of the cemetery. In the spring of 1918, it was found that space was running short in the Eastern Cemetery in spite of repeated extensions to the south, and the site of the new cemetery at Terlincthun was chosen. Boulogne Eastern Cemetery contains 5,577 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 224 from the Second World War. The Commonwealth plots were designed by Charles Holden.