The Great War

Remembered with honour  

Edwin Bowes   


  Bishop Monkton    Parents: David Bowes and Jane (nee Webster)
Siblings: Margaret (1881) John Siddel (1882-1956) - Pte, W Yorks Regt/Labour Corps,
Ann (1884 – 1976) later Lambert (1916), Elizabeth ( 1886 -), Mary (1888-), Jane (1890-), David Thomas (1891 – 1970). York & Lancaster |Regiment, William (1893 – 1969).
Home: Main Street, Bishop Monkton (1901)

Unit: 5th  and 12th Battalions, West Yorkshire Regiment
Rank: Private. Enlistment: Ripon (July 1915)
Service: West European Theatre (France and Flanders),
German retreat to the Hindenburg Line
Awards: British War Medal; Victory Medal  

9 April 1917
Casualty: Killed in action
Buried: Tilloy British Cemetery, Tilloy-les-Mofflaines, Pas de Calais, France
Surviving family: The Bowes, Archbold and Staiano families  


Events leading up to Edwin Bowes'
death on 9 April 1917

Edwin Bowes who died aged 21.

Research by John Sheehan

According to the Regimental History, the E Bowes who was killed in action on 9 April 1917 was called Edward, and his service number was 201392. This differs from the Roll of Honour (and Commonwealth War Graves Commission) which names him Edwin, and gives his service number as 3485. All sources have him as serving with the 12th (Service) Battalion when he was killed. 

There is no doubt that it is the same man, as there is only one E Bowes killed on 9 April with the 12th Battalion. Some privates and NCOs were given four digit service numbers when they enlisted, and then a second six digit service number in 1916. This probably explains the discrepancy in service numbers, but the confusion over the Christian name is very unusual. It seems the Regimental history is in error. 

Pte. Bowes is not listed on the Harrogate War Memorial, and he is not mentioned in the Harrogate papers of the time, or in Ackrill’s Harrogate War Souvenir, which is my main source of photos for soldiers of the West Yorkshire Regiment. Therefore, to build a picture of events I have relied on the Regimental History, which is based closely on the Battalion war diaries.  

Pte. Bowes enlisted with the 5thBattalion, Prince of Wales Own West Yorkshire Regiment. This was a Territorial Regiment set up in 1908 with its roots in the 14th Regiment of Foot. It was based in York with a very large Harrogate / Nidderdale contingent.  

The 5th was brought to war strength by the Kitchener drive in August 1914, and a second line, reserve, battalion was set up in September 1914. These were formally re-designated the 1/5th and 2/5th in early 1915. The 1/5th then went to Flanders in April 1915, and the 2/5thwent to France in January 1917.  

It is therefore most likely that Pte. Bowes joined the 2/5th when he enlisted in July 1915. The 2/5th was also known as the ‘Beechwood Boys’ because the recruits had been billeted in Harrogate Hotels, such as the Beechwood, between November 1914 and March 1915. The 2/5th was under canvass at Thoresby Park when he joined. It then moved through Derby, Newcastle and Southampton before sailing for Le Havre in January 1917.  

During this period many of those who joined the 2/5th were transferred early to the 1/5th and other Battalions as their losses mounted. Because the 2/5th itself went to France in the same month that Pte. Bowes transferred, January 1917, it is quite likely that he did so on arrival at Le Havre. 

The 12th West Yorkshires was a service Battalion (not a Territorial Battalion like the 5th). As such it had no pre-war history and was set up as part of the ‘New Army’ to house the main body of Kitchener recruits. It had first seen action in September 1915 at the battle of Loos.  

In January 1917, when Pte Bowes was transferred, the 12th Battalion was in France under the command of Lt Gen RC Smythe, billeted at Louvencourt. It was part of the 9th Infantry Brigade, which formed part of the 3rd Division (Third Army). The 1916 offensives had pushed the German army into a salient between the Scarpe and the Ancre, known for convenience as the Gommecourt salient.

The Arras offensive was planned to apply pressure on the sides of the salient, with the First and Third Armies attacking south eastwards, south of Vimy Ridge, on the axis of the Arras / Cambrai road.  

Zero Hour for the first battle of the Scarpe was 05:30 on 9 April. The German trenches were shelled for three weeks solid prior to this. From 4th April the 12th Battalion had been billeted in Arras cellars, and on 8th April they paraded and moved forward (east) at 10:10pm to the assembly trenches between Iceland and Twenty Street where they arrived by 02:00 on the 9thApril, with no casualties. 

The 9th Brigade, with the 12th West Yorkshire the centre of its three Battalions, was in the second wave, to leap frog the initial attack by the 76thBrigade, and take the village of Tilloy. The 76th attacked at 05:30 and took the first line of German trenches (black line) without difficulty. 

The 9th Brigade, was due to attack from Noisy Redoubt at 07:30. However, the 12th had taken a pounding in the Assembly trenches, where most of its casualties were sustained that day. To get from the assembly trenches to the redoubt then involved a lengthy march under lighter shelling. The 12th got past the black line easily and took Tilloy. They faced virtually no resistance. Continuing East they advanced beyond Tilloy to the blue line, their objective, by 08:30 after a delay to wait for its left flank cover. The days’ casualties for the 12thBattalion were (ORs) 19 killed, 119 wounded, 5 missing. 

From this account it seems most likely that Pte. Bowes was killed in the assembly trenches, between Iceland and Twenty Street.



Angie and John Archbold and their daughters, Emma and
Rebecca, visited The British Cemetery at Tilloy-les-Mofflaines
to lay poppies on Edwin's grave, almost exactly 100 years after the date when Great Britain declared war in 1914.

It was a sad and moving moment for the whole family.



                    .Photos: Chris Higgins

Tilloy British Cemetery, Tilloy-les-Mofflaines

At the going down of the sun 
         And in the morning 
        We will remember them


TOMORROW we will honour the memory of  William Heath, another son of Bishop Monkton.
He was killed in action on 24 February 1917. His body was never recovered.