31 August 2018
New Forest First World War Hero Remembered
To m a r k t h e e n d o f t h e F i r s t Wo r l d
Wa r C e n t e n a r y,
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has
launched its "Road to Peace" project.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is marking the
end of the First World War Centenary with 120 personal stories of those
made the ultimate sacrifice in the last months of the war.
The CWGC commemorates a staggering 120,000 men and women who died between
8 August and 11 November 1918.
The stories have been compiled by the CWCG's team of historians and includes
the remarkable account of Captain Geoffrey Bowen, a First
World War hero from Burley, New Forest, who died on 2 September 1918.
Geoffrey fought in almost every major British battle on the Western Front
from 1916 to 1918, receiving the Military Cross for his bravery, before
dying in the last months of the war.
In 1915, Geoffrey, aged 20, volunteered to join the
army and received a commission in the 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers.
He fought on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916,
often referred to as the worst day in the British Army's history with
over 19,000 casualties. Here he narrowly avoided death when more than
450 of his comrades were killed, wounded or reported missing.
Promoted to Captain, Geoffrey fought in the Battle of Arras in 1917.
Beginning in the snow on 9 April, this was known as one of the hardest-
fought battles of the war, with a higher average daily casualty rate than
other. Here he was awarded a Military Cross for his remarkable bravery.
The citation for his Military Cross read: "He led his company with
great skill and courage. On four separate occasions he advanced his company
and had to dig in on new lines. His personal example was of the utmost
value to his men under very trying conditions".
He then fought in the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917, known as Passchendaele.
Often fought in thick mud, images of the Belgian
battlefields became synonymous with the horror of the First World War.
By 1918 Geoffrey was a seasoned soldier. On 2 September
1918, the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers took part in an attack on
a German strong
point, between the French towns of Drocourt and Quéant. Despite
the strength of the German defences, Geoffrey's battalion advanced and
the German occupied village of Etaing, capturing more than 450 prisoners.
There were 30 casualties in the attack, among them Geoffrey.
He died aged 23, only a few weeks before the armistice was signed on 11
Geoffrey was laid to rest in the CWGC Windmill British Cemetery. Upon
his headstone are inscribed the words "Their bodies are buried in
but their name liveth for evermore".
From famous casualties like war poet Wilfred Owen,
through to relatively unknown individuals; from those dying in battle
to those who died of
Spanish Flu; each story has been carefully chosen to shine a light on
the human stories on the costly Road to Peace.
CWGC Historian, Max Dutton, explained: "Behind every one of our headstones
or names on a memorial to the missing, is a human story just
waiting to be told. Our 100 days "Road to Peace" campaign will
remind people of the human cost of the Great War, the sheer diversity
of those who
took part and the global nature of that sacrifice and remembrance today.
We hope Geoffrey's story will inspire people to find
out more about him
and his comrades commemorated by the CWGC and visit their graves and memorials".
From 8 August - the 100th anniversary of the Allied
victory at the Battle of Amiens - the "Road to Peace" campaign
will conclude on 11 November
with the stories of 11 people who died on the very last day of the First
World War, even as the guns fell silent. The "100 Days" is a
term applied to
the final period of the First World War, during which the Allies
launched a series of offensives on the Western Front that ultimately led
to peace. Not
actually 100 calendar days, the term is a reference to the final period
of the Napoleonic Wars.
Captain BOWEN, GEOFFREY GRENSIDE MC
"B" Coy. 2nd Bn.
Son of Mr. J. C. G. and Mrs. W. M. Bowen, of Durmast
Cottage, Burley, Brockenhurst, Hants.
"THEIR BODIES ARE BURIED IN PEACE BUT THEIR NAME
LIVETH FOR EVERMORE"
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