George Arthur BOWDEN
Rank: Private
Number: 31873
Unit: 54th Company LABOUR CORPS
Date of Death: 17 September 1918
Age: 29
Cemetery: Aubingny Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France

George was named after his father who died sometime during the 1890s. When the 1901 Census was taken, he was living with his mother, Elizabeth, at 31 Park Lane, Stockport.

In 1915, he married Annie Booker at All Saints Church, Heaton Norris and they are thought to have lived at 5 Victoria Road in the Turncroft Road area of town. When War was declared in 1914, George may have been a Territorial soldier, serving with the Cheshire Yeomanry. The Yeomanry was the cavalry of the Territorial force and George had 2464 as his service number (although he may have joined after the declaration of War). His medal entitlement records are available on-line at the National Archives and these do not mention this service. This confirms that he never served abroad with the Yeomanry and, it would appear, that he was transferred to the Lincolnshire Regiment before going overseas.

At some later point, he was transferred again to the Labour Corps after its establishment in January 1917. The Corps was formed of men deemed not fit enough for the rigours of front line fighting duty. It undertook labouring duties in the rear areas - tasks such as road building, sanitary disposal, grave digging, etc. These would often be carried out fairly near to the front line and, certainly, within range of enemy artillery. There are no records remaining of the daily activities of 54th Company and it is not possible to establish what happened to George. It is known, however that he was not killed outright as Corps records published after the War note he "died of wounds" (as opposed to "killed in action") and is buried adjacent to where a field hospital was based.

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