The AIF Project

John Charles BOWDEN

Regimental number1929
Place of birthMelbourne, Victoria
SchoolSt Paul's Cathedral Choir School, Melbourne, Victoria
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationBank manager
Address34 Queen Street, South Melbourne, Victoria
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation34
Height5' 8.25"
Weight175 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs Jessie Bowden, c/o W.J. Bowden, 34 Queen Street, South Melbourne, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date2 September 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll24 September 1915
Place of enlistmentKyabram, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name31st Battalion, 2nd Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/48/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A55 Kyarra on 3 January 1916
Rank from Nominal Roll2nd Lieutenant
Unit from Nominal Roll59th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 19 July 1916
Place of death or woundingFleurbaix, France (Battle of Fromelles)
Date of death19 July 1916
Age at death35
Age at death from cemetery records35
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsV.C. Corner (Panel No 14), Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, France
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
167
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: William H and Ellen BOWDEN. Native of South Yarra, Victoria
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Disembarked Suez, 31 January 1916.

Allotted to and proceeded to join 46th Bn, 6 March 1916.

Transferred to 59th Bn, 16 March 1916.

Appointed Acting Sergeant, 16 March 1916.

Appointed 2nd Lieutenant, 21 March 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 18 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 29 June 1916.

Reported missing in action, 19 July 1916.

War Office List 180A: 'DIED, whilst Prisoner of War in Germany (Effects forthcoming).'

War Office List No X/32249: 'LIST OF DEAD Pay Book transmitted to Foreign Office 27-9-16 by Comm. International de la Croix Rouge, Geneva through His Majesty's Minister at Berne.'

AAG, 3rd Echelon: 'To be reported as "KILLED IN ACTION".'

Red Cross File No 471002 has statement from 2020 Pte J. CHURCH, 4 August 1916: 'There is a creek just off the end of a sap running out from our lines into No man's land (sic) where we went across on July 19th at Fleurbaix. I saw Lt. Bowden lying by this creek as I went over in the charge. I was about this spot for some time lying down waiting for the advance. I saw him crawl from the creek to our front line trenches and from there out into the bushes again on No Man's Land. When last I saw him his left leg was covered in blood and his left arm was strapped to his side by some of his equipment. He looked awfully bad. I did not see or hear anything more about him. He must have crawled into the bushes and died there.'

Second statement, 3093 Pte J.A. O'NEILL, 59th Bn, 12 August [?] 1916: 'Informant says he saw 2nd Lt. J.C. Bowden badly wounded and feels pretty certain he died about 100 yards from German trenches 19 July. Lieut Bowden was just a little in front to the left of informant when he fell.'

Third statement, 3008 Pte E. BLACKMORE, 59th Bn (patient, The County Hospital, York, England), 16 September 1916: '... I saw Lieut. J.C. Bowden hit and fall ... I asked about an officer and they told me that Lieutenants Carr, Morrow and Bowden were killed; this was at 6.30 at night.'

Letter, Prisoners Care Department, Central Committe of the German Red Cross Societies, Belin, to International Red Cross Society, Geneva, 21 January 1918: 'After the battle near Fromelles on the 19.7.16 the Identity Discs were removed from all the fallen men and sent in. The name of Bowden is not reported in the lists of graves. It may be assumed that possibly Lieutenant Bowden was buried in one of the five large British Collective Graves before the Fasanen Waldchen (Pheasants Wood) near Fromelles, or in the Collective Grave (No. 1 M 4.3) in the Military Cemetery at Fournes.'

Letter, AIF Administrative Headquarters, London, to Base Records, Melbourne, 14 July 1919: 'Lieutenant Bowden was reported Killed in Action 19.7.16. The report which was received from the Prisoner of War Care Department, Berlin, states that Lieutenant Bowden was killed near Fromelles. His pay book and identity disc were recovered, but the exact location of the grave is not known. It is thought however, that Lieutenant Bowden was buried in one of the five large collective British graves near Pheasants (sic) Wood near Fromelles, or in the collective grave in the Military Cemetery at Fournes. No further information has yet been received.'

Letter, Australian Graves Services, to Base Records, 20 April 1920: 'Information has come to hand that the above named Officer's grave has been located in the German Cemetery, Fournes. Will you please register it and advise the next of kin accordingly.' Handwritten note in red ink on letter: 'Incorrect see file'.

Letter, Official Secretary, Australia House, London, to Base Records, Melbourne, 5 April 1922: ' ... as a result of an exhumation carried out by the D.G.R.& E. it has been ascertained that the grave formerly registered as that of the above named Officer does not contain his remains. He was originally reported buried in a collective grave in Fournes German Cemetery, and as it was desired to ascertain the identities of the other remains buried in the same grave the above mentioned exhumation was undertaken in the presence of an Australian representative, who was satisfied that none of the bodies was that of an Australian Officer or soldier. Extensive investigations have been made since the exhumation took place but all to no purpose, therefore the Imperial War Graves Commission have intimated that it is their intention to mark Lieut. Bowden's records "No trace on research". This office has done likewise.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, BOWDEN John Charles
Red Cross file 471002

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