Herbert BOWER
Rank: Company Sergeant Major
Number: 14/616
Unit: 14th Battalion YORK & LANCASTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 22 October 1916
Age: 36
Cemetery: Courcelles-au-Bois Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France

Herbert was Yorkshireman by birth and his military allegiances remained with the county. Although not suggested by its name, the York and Lancaster Regiment was drawn from the South Yorkshire area around Barnsley and Pontefract. He had been born in Barnsley and his parents, Edward and Mary, still lived there at 15 Bala Street. At the age of 17, he had joined the Regiment as a regular soldier and served for 10 years, including 12 months in South Africa during the Boer War.

In his obituary, the newspaper noted that Herbert had previously been awarded the "Volunteer Efficiency Service Medal". The "Volunteers" were the forerunners of the Territorial Force formed in 1908 and the award will have actually been the "Territorial Force Efficiency Medal". This was a long-service award and that information, coupled with Herbert's low Territorial service number, suggests that, after leaving the regular army, he must have joined the Volunteers, converting to the Territorials in 1908.

It is not known when he moved to the Stockport area but, by 1914, he was living at 3 Ashbrook Lane, Reddish with his wife and four children. He was working in Gorton as a moulder for Beyer, Peacock & Co. The Company were major manufacturers of railway locomotives.

Herbert had probably left the Territorials whne he move to Stockport but when War was declared in August 1914, he travelled to Pontefract to enlist with his old Regiment, rather than joining  amore local unit. His past service no doubt brought him rapid promotion in the newly formed Battalion, known as the 2nd Barnsley Pals.

 In December 1915, the Battalion, now part of the British 31st Division was sent to Egypt to guard the Suez canal. Herbert was now Company Sergeant major in "B" Company. In March 1916, the Battalion was transferred to the Western Front and he was in action on 1 July, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The Battalion suffered many casualties in a failed attack on the German lines at Serre. A week later, they were transferred away from the Somme to the sector around Neuve Chappelle.

Herbert and his comrades returned to the Somme on 18 October and, on the 21st, took over trenches between Matthew Copse and John Copse, near the village of Hebuterne. The Battalion's War Diary entry for the 22nd notes "Our artillery were very heavily engaged throughout the whole 24 hours, the whole front opposite our sector being shelled. The enemy showed more retaliation than the day before; a considerable number of his shells were "duds". Two patrols left our lines to examine the effects of the day's shelling on the wire. It was found it was almost demolished in places.....Casualties: CSM H Bower killed in action".

His Company Captain  later wrote to wrote his wife saying that the night had been cold and wet and Herbert had been taking shelter in a small dug-out, when a shell burst, completely burying him. He was dead when they managed to dig him out.

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