Allen Bowker


Private 26361, 2nd Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

Died of Wounds 5th August 1918 aged 36

Buried Heckmondwike Cemetery

Son of Henry and Mary Jane Bowker

Lived 47, Regent Street, Heckmondwike

Allen (Allan) Bowker was born in 1882, the youngest of the four sons of Henry Bowker, a warehouseman living in Heckmondwike and his second wife, Mary Jane Gladman of Lincolnshire. They had married at Birstall Parish Church on 11th May 1874.

Henry Bowker’s first marriage had been to Margaret Senior in 1864. They had two daughters, Fanny (1864) and Emily (1865) before Margaret Bowker died on 24th March 1867 and was buried in the family grave along with their infant son Arthur. The two daughters were then brought up by their maternal grandparents in Earlsheaton.

Allen's three elder brothers were John Gladman Bowker who was born on 22nd October 1875; Walter, born in 1877; and Ernest born in 1879. At the time of Allen's birth, the family lived in Knowles Hill Road on Dewsbury Moor, but they later moved to Regent Street, Heckmondwike. Allen's mother, Mary Jane Bowker died on 28th January 1909 aged 61. Two years later, the census recorded Allen, a single man aged 28, living at the family home with his father and brother, Walter, who had also been widowed. John Gladman Bowker and Ada, his wife of four years, lived at 52 Boundary Street.

In February 1916, Allen enlisted into the West Riding Regiment as Private 19743 at Liversedge, under the Derby scheme and gave his address as 56, Church Street, Heckmondwike. The local newspaper in 1918, reported that “Allen lived with his brother Mr Ernest Bowker of 47, Regent Street, was a single man, employed in the Heckmondwike Manufacturing Company’s warehouse packing department and a member of Back Lane Working Men’s Club. He trained in North Shields before being sent to German East Africa in August 1916 where he was taken ill with malaria. Having recovered, he was transferred to Egypt where the climate caused a breakdown in his health again. He was sent home for a month in December 1917 to convalesce before returning to the battalion in Egypt.

The battalion then moved to France but had only been there for six weeks when Allen was wounded in the back. He was evacuated to Southampton and taken to the Graylingwell Military Hospital in Chichester for treatment.

A telegram was sent from Chichester on Monday summoning his father to the bedside as his condition was grave. The local newspaper reported that “owing to the post office being closed for the holiday the message was not delivered until Tuesday morning and by the same post came a letter containing the painful announcement that the wounded soldier had passed away on Monday.” The flag at Back Lane Working Men’s Club was flown at half mast as a mark of respect.

The Cleckheaton Advertiser and Spenborough Times recorded that the "Funeral service was held in Heckmondwike on Saturday and attended by members of the Heckmondwike Company's Volunteers, who acted as bearers, and also by a good number of members of the Back Lane Working Men's Club and fellow employees at the Manufacturing Company's works. The coffin was covered with a Union Jack, on the top of which the cap of the soldier was placed. The burial was preceded by a service at the Parish Church, at which the Rev. R A Henderson, vicar, and the Rev. G L Woodhouse, curate, officiated, the former also taking the service at the graveside."

His Commonwealth War Grave headstone stands in Heckmondwike Cemetery. Next to it is the family gravestone which also records his death. Below his name is that of his father, Henry Bowker, who died on 17th March 1919.{KH-019}

Medals: Victory and British

Commemorated: St Saviour’s Church Memorial, Green Park Memorial and the Heckmondwike Vellum Roll

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