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Person Details
Stapleford Nottinghamshire
Thomas Clarence was the son of William Henry and Annie Florence Bowley (née Mellows). His father William Henry was born in 1866 (O/N/D Lincoln) in Bardney, Lincolnshire, the son of Thomas and Ann Bowley. By 1871 his family was living in Stapleford where his father was a fishmonger, a business in which Thomas worked with his father. His mother Annie Florence (Florence) Mellows was born in 1869 (A/M/J Shardlow Derbyshire). William and Annie were married at Radford Christ Church, Nottingham, on 25 December 1889 (O/N/D Nottingham) and had four children, the youngest of whom died in infancy: Clarence Thomas b. 1890 (A/M/J Shardlow), Ann Lydia b. 22 September 1891 (O/N/D Shardlow), William Charles b. 27 May 1893 (J/A/S Shardlow) and John b. 1895 (A/M/J Shardlow) d. 1895 (A/M/J Shardlow). All the children were born in Stapleford. In 1891 William (25), a fishmonger, and Annie (21) were living on Nottingham Road, Stapleford, with their first child, Thomas (Clarence). Also in the household was a boarder, Sarah Mellows (44 b. Stapleford), married a retired lace hand (wife of Charles Mellows b. Stapleford). William died in 1896 (J/A/S Shardlow) aged 30. In 1901 his widow, Florence, a cotton winder, was living on Church Street, Stapleford, with her surviving children Thomas (10), Annie (9) and William (8). The family was still living at the same address, 7 Church Street, in 1911. Thomas was a shop salesman, Annie a cotton lace drawer and William a cotton threader. Thomas gave his occupation as clothier assistant when he attested in 1915. Annie Florence died two years later in 1913 (O/N/D Shardlow) aged about 45. Thomas enlisted in 1915 and gave his address as 7 Church Street. CWGC named his brother, William Charles, in its record under 'additional information': 'Mr. W C Bowley of 10 Church Street, Stapleford, Notts.' William Charles probably served in the Sherwood Foresters during the war (266973 Private). He married Florence Bertha Wright (b. 6 December 1899) in 1921 (J/A/S Shardlow) and in 1939 when the England & Wales Register was compiled he and his wife were living at West Avenue, Stapleford, with their son Thomas W (b. 1 November 1925) and one other person whose record remains closed. William was working as a cotton warper (lace). He died on 21 March 1962; he was still living on West Avenue. His wife survived him. Ann Lydia probably married Arthur William Pick at Ilkeston St John in 1918. In 1939 they were living on Toton Lane, Stapleford; Arthur (b. 9 May 1886) worked as an iron moulder. She died in 1966 (O/N/D Basford).
In 1911 he was a shop salesman.
07 Jun 1917
27
928651 - CWGC Website
35922
7 Church Street, Stapleford. Enlisted Nottingham.
Private
11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Thomas Clarence Bowley attested as Clarence Tom Bowley on 30th November 1915 at Nottingham. He gave his age as 25 yrs and 7 months and his address as 7 Church Street, Stapleford. He was posted to the reserves the following day. He was mobilised on 17th February 1916 and joined the Sherwood Foresters Regiment at Derby. He landed in France on 14th September 1916. 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters formed part of 2nd Army's attack on Messines Ridge, the highly successful operation to clear enemy forces off high ground to the south of Ypres as a prelude to the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) launched on 31st July. In early June the unit moved from St Lawrence camp to Halfway House, then Ritz Street support trenches before assembling ready to attack. A series of huge mines were detonated at 20 second intervals causing panic and many casualties amongst Germans defending the area. According to 11th Sherwood Foresters' War Diary (TNA WO95/2187/3), they formed 'the left hand bn of the whole attack. Zero hour was at 3.10am at which hour the mines were exploded. The battalion occupied their objective with four casualties.' However 66 men, including Bingley, lost their lives on June 7th (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). 'The majority,' the War Diary reports,' took place from sniping and shell fire after the position was carried.' Battalion orders had insisted 'All ranks are to be warned that there is no such word as "RETIRE" and that anyone using such a word is in all probability a German.' The unit's response was impressive; Major CE Hudson MC was awarded the DSO for his part in the action. Three officers won the MC and 40 men from the ranks were decorated - 4 with DCMs and 36 with MMs. John Cotterill reflects: ‘It (7/6/1917) was really a day of mixed fortunes for the battalion. As their main responsibility was forming a flank they did not have to advance as far as everyone else but they hit the only really uncut wire. The very left of their objective was the only part of the British objective not to fall although you would not know that from the battalion history or war diary. Despite that, they did pretty well and advanced about 1,000 yards. The confusion and delay when their left hand company hit the uncut wire, unseen in a small hollow, was only sorted out by the energetic intervention of Edward Hudson, a remarkable man with an MC on the Somme, a DSO at Messines , a bar to his DSO at Passchendaele and a VC on the Asiago plateau (Italy). I think the 4 casualties recorded in the war diary just reflect an initial report. The battalion history records 41 x KIA, 169 x WIA and 15 x MIA on 7 June. If one adds KIA to MIA one is only a few short of final CWGC figure of 62. 70 Bde , of which 11th Foresters comprised one quarter , suffered 183 x KIA , 768 x WIA and over 400 x MIA . As few British became PW on 7 Jun one must assume most of the MIA were actually KIA. This gives the brigade nearly 600 dead so 11th Foresters casualties were proportionally the lowest in the brigade, presumably reflecting their flank holding role. The level of gallantry awards reflects more or less what one expects from a successful battalion attack. The DSO which would normally go to the CO, if he did a good job, obviously went to Hudson as second in command. The CO, Watson, had only come out of hospital on the day of the attack so it seems that Hudson was effectively in command. 3 x MCs is slightly less than the average of one per company, which would have given 4. Only 3 of the DCMs were actually for 7 Jun 1917, as the 4th (Sgt Legate) was for a raid on Hill 60 on 9 Apr 1917. Sgt Ellis was right up there with Hudson in terms of bravery with an MM in Sanctuary Wood in Oct 16, a DCM at Messines in Jun 17, a bar to his MM at 3rd Ypres in Sept 17 and a bar to his DCM on the Asiago plateau in Jun 1918. Although the battalion attacked in the first wave at 0310 hrs, it is clear that they did not start taking heavy casualties until German counter attacks began at 10.30 hrs and that , after that , they took a lot of punishment from both counter attacks and heavy and sustained German artillery fire . It seems remarkable that, with a total of 225 casualties, which is over 1 in 3 of the attacking infantry men , the 11th Foresters still had the lowest butcher’s bill in their brigade.’ Military Research by David Nunn and John Cotterill
He has no known grave and his name is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Remembered on