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Harry Bowers

Harry BowersPrivate Harry Bowers, 242534, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), 1/5th Battalion

Harry Bowers was born in 1887, probably in Horbury to John and Eliza Ann Bowers. By 1901, the Bowers family are living at Victoria Mill Yard, Horbury Bridge and 15 year-old Harry is working as a piecer in a woollen mill. Harry had lost his father John Bowers at the early age of 45 in 1894 and there were seven children living at home with their widowed mother Eliza Ann Bowers. By 1911, Harry is still living at Victoria Mill Yard with his mother and his sister Annie Bowers. The rest of the children had now left home and Harry was still working as a mule piecer in a woollen mill.

In late 1913, Harry married Mary Olive Kilburn in the Dewsbury registration district (probably Ossett) and the couple went on to live at Haggs Hill in Ossett, but it appears there were no children. In 1928, Harry Bowers' widow Mary Olive was to marry Tom Bowers, Harry's elder brother, a railway plate layer, who had lost his wife Sarah Ann (aged 51) in 1927.

Harry Bowers enlisted in the British Army in Ossett and went on to serve with the Royal Lancaster Regiment, 1/5th Battalion. He was killed in action on the 31st July 1917. He was posthumously awarded the British and Victory medals.

The 1/5th went to France on the 14 February 1915. Private Harry Bowers was most probably killed in the opening engagements of the 3rd Battle of Ypres at the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, which commenced on the 31 July 1917. The 1/5th Royal Lancaster Regiment, as part of the 55th Division, were ordered to advance along the right of the Gravenstafel Road, one thousand yards east of Weltjie, with the 1/5th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on their left on the other side of the road. Their objective was the German front line, which they took, The battalion went ‘over the top’ behind a tremendous creeping barrage at 3.50 a.m. The weather then broke and the rain 'came down in buckets' as the German counter attacks began1. During the action on the 31st July at Oilckem Ridgem The 1/5th Royal Lancasters lost 18 men, all killed in action.

Harry Bowers is buried in New Irish Farm Cemetery2, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium at grave reference III. C. 17. New Irish Farm Cemetery was first used from August to November 1917 and was named after a nearby farm, known to the troops as 'Irish Farm' (originally there was an Irish Farm Cemetery immediately South of the Farm. New Irish Farm Cemetery is about 300 metres North of the Farm at a crossing once known as Hammond's Corner).

References:

1. Reveille, Lancaster Military Heritage Group web site

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site