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Private Joseph Arthur Bowden



Joseph Arthur Bowden was born on 25 March 1897 at Cortober, County Cavan, the last of three children of farmer, auctioneer, land agent and magistrate Joseph Bowden and his wife Lydia Sarah (nee Whitley).

Bowden enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 24 or 25 November 1915 (No.1965). In 1916 or the first half of 1917 he embarked for France, where he joined either the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment in the field.

In September 1917 the 2nd Regiment was dismounted and most of its men, together with some from the 1st Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men were formally transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Bowden was issued regimental number 41287.

It is likely that Bowden saw action with the battalion in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and perhaps also in the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive.

On 9 April 1918 the 9th Battalion was on the Ypres front when the Germans began their offensive in that sector. The battalion saw severe fighting between Wulverghem and Kemmel for more than a week and suffered many casualties. Bowden was initially listed as missing between 9 and 19 April, but his death was later accepted. He was possibly killed in the early morning of 18 April when a composite battalion of 400 men from the 9th and 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, and 12th Royal Irish Rifles, were caught in an enemy bombardment while moving to positions on the western slopes of Mount Kemmel. According to the battalion diary for that day:

2 am. Moved to Kemmel, as composite Bn with 1st R. Ir. Fus. cmd. by Lt. Col. Kelly. Heavy casualties, while moving into position, from enemy shelling. Capt. Despard wounded and died soon after.

... and the 108 Brigade diary:

Battalion moved to Kemmel Hill, but whilst halted near foot of N. slope was heavily shelled, losing Captain Despard killed ... and about 70 other casualties.

Having no known grave, Private Bowden is commemorated on Panel 140, Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.



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