BOWDEN, James H.

No.13835, Private, James Henry BOWDEN
Aged 24

9th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Saturday, 16th September 1916

James Henry Bowden was born in West Row (Mildenhall Q4-1891 4A:749), the eldest son of Henry and Eliza BOWDEN (née LEONARD)

1901 census... Aged 9, he was living at Breakapin, Flempton, with his father Henry BOWDEN [42], a shepherd, born Mildenhall; his mother [40], born Mildenhall; sister Adelaide [10] born Mildenhall; sisters Ethel [6] and Sarah [4] and brother Leonard [1] all three born in Fornham All Saints.

1911 census... Aged 19 , he was a shepherd, living with his parents, sister Sarah and brother Leonard at High Street, Chippenham.

He enlisted in Newmarket.
The 15th/16th September 1916 was a nightmare for the 9th Suffolks. As part of the 71st Brigade they were to have occupied the ridge between Morval and Les Boeufs. In front lay the Quadrilateral, bristling with machine guns, still intact. 6:20 am was zero hour, but the 9th Suffolks and 9th Norfolks were held back for one and a half hours. Despite tanks being used in support for the first time the troops came under a hail of machine gun fire as soon as they left the trenches.
At 8:30 the CO Lt.Col. Mack moved his HQ into the front line trenches and was killed whilst watching the battalion. All the senior officers were killed or wounded. Unable to move forward, they maintained communications with flanking units and dug themselves in. Despite heavy artillery fire they held on until relieved just before midnight.
4 Officers and 35 ORs were reported killed, 7 Officers and 99 ORs wounded and 2 officers and 93 OR missing. The missing officers and many of the missing ORs were later reported killed. CWGC has 101 killed, only 22 have identified graves. James is the only one of his battalion killed that day to be buried in London Cemetery.

James apparently got half way to the objective, since he was found at 57c.T.20.b.4.6. near to Ginchy. identified by his disc inscribed 13835. Pte J.H,. Bowden 9/Suffolks. He was then re -interred in London Cemetery the other side of Longueval. His Family Verification form does name his parents as E.H. and E Bowden but adds that they are deceased (I have no idea as yet what M.O.P stands for).It seems likely he was not found until 1948. His mother died in 1946

The Bury Free Press of 11thNovember 1916 reported :-

A memorial service was held in the church at Chippenham on Sunday, October 29th, conducted by the Rev.Cummingham in memory of the late Prvt.James Henry Bowden, of the 9h Suffolks, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Bowden of Chippenham. The heroic young man was killed in action in France on September 17th of this year. Deceased, who was 25 years of age, joined the Army on September 14th, 1914, and proceeded to France at the end of August 1915. Much sympathy is felt for his parents and friends in their sad loss

Where James was originally found

photo: Rodney Gibson

James Bowden is buried in the London Cemetery & Extension, Longueval, France grave 12:G:13

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details