Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.
Cecil James Bowen was born at Burwarton in 1893. He was the son of John Bowen, a grocer, and his wife Eliza. Although they lived in Burwarton, John and Eliza had both been born in Ditton Priors.
By 1911 the Bowen family had moved to Draw Well House, Cleobury North. John was working as a delver in the Stone Quarry and Cecil was a clerk in the quarry office. Cecil married Esther Evans in 1915. The couple appear to have lived at Ditton Priors. (Cecil gave Ditton Priors as his place of residence when he joined the Army.)
Cecil served with the 7th Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry. He was killed in action on the Somme on 13th November, 1916 when the 7th attacked Serre during the Battle of the Ancre.
The attack was planned for 5.45 on the morning of Monday the 13th. Our artillery commenced with a heavy bombardment, devoted to the destruction of the enemy wire and front line on the 11th, and kept it up more or less continuously throughout Sunday the 12th. The 8th Brigade was charged with the capture of the stronghold of Serre, one of the chain of heavily fortified villages - Gommecourt, Serre, Beaumont Hamel and Thiepval - which had checked our advance on July 1st. . . . Thick fog was spread over the ground and at zero hour (5.45) the morning was black as the darkest midnight. In the pitch darkness, and through deep mud, it was difficult for the best-trained soldiers to keep direction . . . The heavy state of the ground . . . made it impossible for the tanks to operate, and they were withdrawn from the attack. About 8 a.m., as it began to get light, a thick fog made conditions no better, and at eleven, when the fog began to clear, it was found that all units had lost direction and were hopelessly mixed. . . . Later in the day Beaucourt and Beaumont Hamel were taken, and by the evening of the 14th we were in position well down the eastward slopes of the Thiepval ridge. The German counter-attack of the 15th failed everywhere along the five mile front of the battle and all new positions on the right were held.
Although on the left of the line the attack of the 8th Brigade on Serre had failed, the enemy first line had everywhere been penetrated in the first assault, but only a small part of the ground gained in the Serre sector could be held. The appalling conditions of the country in front of the 8th Brigade accounted for their failure. So deep was the mud in places that ration parties took over four hours to cover 1,000 yards of the ground. [Wood pp.231-232]
Private Cecil James Bowen, 19669 KSLI was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.