Three Bowen Brothers at War

Henry William Bowen in WWI army uniform
Henry William Bowen

When Britain declared war on Germany on 4th August 1914 the Prime Minister of Australia, Joseph Cook pledged the full support of Britain and Australia joined the war.

The first major engagement by Australian soldiers was at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915.

When war was declared three of my Great Granduncles enlisted. The two oldest Henry Bowen aged 27 and Walter Bowen aged 23, enlisted together. They were both on route to Gallipoli when the ship they were on, The Southland, became the first Australian Troopship to be torpedoed. Witnesses reported seeing Henry getting into a lifeboat, but he was thrown into the water when the lifeboat tipped and was drowned. Walter survived both the sinking of the ship and the Gallipoli campaign and went on to serve in France.

Meahwhile, the youngest brother James joined up in August 1915. At the time he was a postal worker and had recently been issued with a scholarship and a promotion due to his telegraphy skills. These skills were put to good use in Egypt.

However he was in and out of hospital during his service as he had a hernia, which according to his records originated prior to enlistment but was aggravated by his service. He was discharged in 1919, medically unfit.

Both Walter and James went on to live long lives. Walter died in 1969 aged 76 years and James died in 1983 aged 86 years.   


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