Herbert Bower – an early American entry?


Herbert Bower, Corporal 27194, 15th West Yorkshire Regiment

Photo courtesy of York Army Museum

Thomas Bower was married to Sarah, possibly Sarah Ann Bibbing, possibly in Barnsley in 1883. (Free BMD).  In 1892 they had a son, Herbert, born in the USA, and another son Thomas, also born there, in 1895.  According to the 1911 Census they had three children, one of whom had died, which might account for the gap between their marriage and Herbert’s birth.  What took them to the USA is not known, but what few records there are for Herbert all confirm his American birth, with the place variously given as Boardington, which may be a misunderstanding of Bordentown, and Philadelphia, which is some thirty miles away. (Find my Past).

They did not stay long, for on the 1901 Census they are shown as living at 31 Bristol Street, Leeds, but without Thomas the father.  He may have remained in the USA but it seems more likely that he had died, since he is given as ‘deceased’ on Herbert’s marriage certificate in 1914, when Herbert married Hettie Berry, and possibly moved to 17 Marion Avenue, Woodhouse, Leeds. (Find my Past).

Before this, however, the family had moved to 30 Clay Pit Lane, Camp Road, Leeds, where they appear on the 1911 Census, both brothers being given as tailor’s cutters.  Whether there was any connection with the Camp Road Baptist Chapel I don’t know, but if there was this would also provide a link to the Pals, as the former minister of the chapel, Rev. E A Cartwright, had joined in 1914. (Laurie Milner ‘Leeds Pals’).

Herbert, however, did not join until December 1915, and according to his Medal Card was not attested until April the following year, hence his late service number.  This may be because he was a married man, with two children, one born shortly after the wedding, and the other, Alan, on the day following Herbert’s attestation. (Ancestry).

Joining when he did, Herbert would have finished his training and then gone straight to France, too late for the Battle of the Somme.  He was, though, in time for the Battle of Arras, which for the Pals began on 3rd May 1917, and on that day Herbert was reported missing.  It was subsequently confirmed that he was a prisoner, having been wounded at Gavrielle in his right arm, right heel and back.  On 2nd August he was recorded at Cassell POW Camp, where he appears to have stayed until the armistice. (Prisoners of the First World War).  On his return to England he was discharged as wounded in April 1919, awarded a pension of 9/- a week, for one year, a Silver War Badge, and ultimately the British War and Victory Medals.

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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