No.40744, Private, Harry BOWYER
Aged 23

"Z" Coy., 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
formerly 2780, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Wednesday, 11th April 1917

Harry Bowyer was born in Kedington on 13th May 1893 (Risbridge Q3-1893 4A:698), baptised in St Peter and St Paul, Kedington on 11th June 1893, son of Elijah and Elizabeth BOWYER (née GARWOOD).

His mother died in 1897 and his father married widow Hermon Jane ARGENT (née BALDRY) in 1898

1901 census...Aged 7, he was at Union Road, Kedington with his father Elijah BOWYER [51] bricklayer; stepmother Jane [50][ born Naughton, Suffolk; sisters Emily [15] and Emma [10]; brothers George [18] and Thomas [5], All except his stepmother were born in Kedington.

His father died in 1909

1911 census...Aged 17, single, stone pit labourer, he was at School Road, Kedington with his widowed step-mother Hermon Jane; brothers George (stone pit labourer) and Thomas (farm labourer).

He married Dorothy HALL [1-10-1895] in 1915. Their daughter Joan was born on 6-6-1915. Dorothy re married, to Samuel C. LOVEDAY in 1921 and lived at Streetly End, West Wickham.

When the pension card was raised his widow and daughter were at Lower Farm, Shudy Camps.

His brother George was killed serving in France in the Royal Fusiliers in 1916 see here

His brother Thomas was killed in action serving in France in the Suffolk Regiment in 1916 see here

He enlisted in Haverhill. Only "Soldiers Died" has him dying of wounds, his "Personal effects" entry has "death presumed on or since 11th April". Possibly he was last seen to have been wounded. In any event his body was never identified.

Lt Col Murphy's "History of the Suffolk Regiment" has:
The 2nd Suffolks, on 11th April 1917 at short notice and no preparation, were ordered to take part in an attack on Guemappe. The objective could not be seen until an intervening ridge had been crossed and at first troops mistook the buildings on Les Fosse farm for the village. As a result of enfilading machine gun fire from the right, everyone edged off a little to the right, advancing with their tin helmets titled over to the right as if marching in a hail storm. Progress was made, but our men, with totally inadequate artillery support- being unable to cross the long forward slope to cover, swept as it was by a tornado of bullets from front and flank, crept into shell holes as best they could. They witnessed a gallant but fruitless mounted attack on Monchy-le-Preux by the 3rd Cavalry Division. Two or three more attempts were made to gain more ground but without success and they were forced to consolidate where they lay...movement was almost impossible, preventing communications and worse, the collection of casualties in spite of gallant services of the stretcher bearers.
In the afternoon a fresh battalion attacked but with no more success and the day wore on until darkness intervened and about midnight a relief was carried out and the battalion withdrew to trenches near Tilloy. Thus the successes of the battalion on the opening day of the Scarpe on April 9th was followed 2 days later by a complete failure.
There had been 124 casualties, of which 33 were killed, 24 have no known grave.

photo: Rodney Gibson

Harry Bowyer is commemorated on the Arras memorial, Faubourg d'Amiens bay 4

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

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