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Remembered Today:

Infantry Uniforms, C.E.F. (18th Bn [Western Ontario Regiment)


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What ho, Experts.
I've been researching the War Dead of Areley Kings, Worcestershire, for donkey's years and,during the last couple of years, I've discovered one lad killed on 26th August 1918 who appeared on the village's full Roll of Honour for the Great War but who did not appear on any of the three local memorials (school, Great War plaque in the Parish Church, or Pillar/Cross of Remembrance).  Clearly news of his service had reached the village but not that of his death.
He was Corporal (Acting Sgt) Vincent Bowen, MM & Bar.  It turns out that he had emigrated with his family to Canada in 1909 and joined up on the outbreak of war, serving throughout with some distinction (wouldn't it be nice to have a record of the details of MM citations?).
Anyone researching Canadians serving in the Great War will know what fantastic and detailed resources area are available, so it's no surprise that I have had no difficulty turning up an absolute wealth of detail about Sgt Bowen, along with the most wonderfully generous help from Canadian individuals and groups - but no photos or family connections (other than official documents such as censuses).
Then, on a Facebook page devoted to the 18th Bn, I saw a post from Vincent's great-nephew - with [allegedly] a photo!  I attach it here to seek your help.

The original was very poor quality and I've done what I can to improve clarity.  My problem is that the subject seems to me to be in mounted infantry or artillery gear.  However, I'm no expert so can any of you tell me whether I'm being unduly pessimistic about what seemed to be my belated good luck in, at last, finding a pic.  Could this be a private (I can't see any chevrons) in the 18th Bn?1163511964_BowenFulllengthportrait.jpg.1ab2d998dc332c58ab268cd941a2e709.jpg

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He appears to be a Private I agree.  He is dressed for mounted duty.  In an infantry unit pre-ww1 this usually meant one of two things.  He was either, a member of a Mounted Infantry section (this applied to British regulars so I'm unsure about Canadian militia), or he was a member of the battalion Transport Section.  Each infantry battalion had a transport section headed up by a subaltern assisted by a sergeant and working closely with the quartermaster.  They were responsible for the unit Field Officers mounts (incl the Adjt), a goodly number of draught horses, and a fleet of wheeled vehicles.  The latter included two GS wagons per company (4-company system), one field kitchen and one water bowser per company, first line ammunition limbers for each company and a Maltese Cart for the officers' mess.  The soldiers who worked in the transport section were often the older and more experienced men coming towards the end of their service and less likely to stand up to the rigours of route marching on foot.  These men were specially issued with spurs,1903 bandolier equipment and riding breeches made of either, bedford cord, or tartan (a type of wool weave not the Scottish meaning).  The lanyard was for a clasp knife.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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His cap badge is really fuzzy, it could be a maple leaf which was the 'background' to many of the numbered CEF Battalion badges,

but I cannot tell from that photo.

 

Other than that i cannot add anything to what Froggy has already mentioned.

 

But am interested in knowing more!

 

Thanks for posting!

Bryan

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PS - his collar badges would also be maple leaves.

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The 18th Bn CEF insignia was indeed based on the Maple leaf.  The collar badges had a triple scroll bearing the unit title, whereas the cap badge was simpler with a large number inside a strap and a single Canada scroll.

Photos courtesy of e.medals.com

18th CEF 2.jpg

18th CEF.jpg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Western Ontario Reg't (W.O.R.) would comprise of that area west of Toronto, the Hamilton & Niagara, even to Windsor, areas of Ontario.

18th Bn likely raised  in that area.

Ontario is a very large Province & had E.O.R. & C.O.R also.

 

I think I have the Bandmaster of the W.O.R.

with possibly a photo of his Band in my collection, but would be circa 1918-19 period, have to have a look.

 

 

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According to his file in the National Archives, A.Sgt. Bowen resided in Guelph, (a City about 80 km West of Toronto) enlisted in 1914 and remained a Private until his field promotion to Corporal and thence immediately to Acting Sergeant on August 24 1918 (replacing NCO casualties).

 

The photo is of a Private in the typical Canadian 7 Button tunic and forage cap that was commonly worn in Canada on mobilization - that is to say, the photo was likely taken in Canada, shortly after the subject enlisted and at that point in his own military service,  A.Sgt.Bowen was in fact Pte. Bowen. 

 

He was also of relatively short stature (5'4") and the gent in the photo also appears to be somewhat short (judging by the bandolier). 

 

Mounted gear aside, no reason it could not be him.

 

Tom K

Edited by Tom K
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Many thanks for the responses, chaps.  I have a wealth of information about Vincent Bowen and the 18th Bn (which has an outstanding FB page and also an excellent blog) and am pretty  so I know all about the cap badges, recruitment area, war service etc. etc.  The relative in Canada who provided the photo, allegedly of Vincent, for the 18th's FB page is hopeless at responding to queries (in fact he doesn't!).  However, by and large, that doesn't cause me huge problems other than that it would be nice to have family information other than from official documents - and of course scans of photos of Vincent and his close relatives, family memorabilia etc..

My only query here is the one about the uniform of the man in the photo and its 'cavalry' indications.  So thanks particularly to Frogsmile.  I had no idea about the mounted section.  I have no way of knowing whether Vincent was in one of those (or whether the C.E.F. had them.  I do know that he was in B Coy of the 18th and that he certainly wouldn't have qualified as one of  "the older and more experienced men coming towards the end of their service and less likely to stand up to the rigours of route marching on foot".  Nor is it likely that he would have had any particular personal qualifications to be put in a mounted section, Both in the UK and after emigration he was a carpet weaver and his pre-war militia service in the UK and Canada was with infantry - in the 7th Bn Worcesters and the 30th Rifles (the militia unit for Wellington County, Ontario).  Still, it's a possibility.  With his arms behind his back, it's not possible to see any wound or overseas service strips but the lack of corporal's/sergeant's chevrons suggest that the photo was taken before his promotions, both in 1918; probably, as you suggest, Tom., early on, while he was still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed - before his several spells in hospital from GSW and trench foot.
I agree, RNCVR, that even with the fuzziness, the shape of the badge suggests a Canadian one but, as the photo came from a family connection in Ontario, I'd no reason to doubt that anyway.

Thanks, Tom K. for going to the trouble of chasing Vincent up.  I've actually had a good deal of help from the press and individuals in Guelph (where there's a street named after Vincent!). 

Apologies, by the way, for the delay in responding.  I'm pretty sure I'd ticked 'notify me of replies' but haven't had any notifications.  I'll keep looking.
Thanks again.  Always a joy to revel in the generosity with their time and talents of the folks on this forum.

Stay safe,

Eric.

P.S.  I need to proof read more carefully.  I note that I hadn't fully deleted a phrase, leaving the words 'I am pretty'.  I'm certainly not!

 

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35 minutes ago, ExileEric said:


I agree, RNCVR, that even with the fuzziness, the shape of the badge suggests a Canadian one but, as the photo came from a family connection in Ontario, I'd no reason to doubt that anyway.


Thanks again.  Always a joy to revel in the generosity with their time and talents of the folks on this forum.

Stay safe,

Eric.

 

Eric,

 Many Uk citizens emigrated to Canada both pre & post war, presumably, for a better life over here, then on outbreak of 1WW signed onto the CEF (& RCN\RNCVR) to do their part, so the chance of Bowen doing same is very good.

 

I hope you will be able to find more information on him in time.

 

Best....Bryan

 

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Just a point about ‘Transport Sections’ Eric.  All infantry battalions had them regardless of whether Canadian, ANZAC, or British, they were essential to the movement of First Line and Reserve ammunition stocks, as well as critical items of stores, not to mention water and hot food (always provided whenever possible).  The type of man I described as being likely in a Tpt Sect referred to a British Regular unit (and perhaps TF too) Circa 1914.  Once the war began and conscription was introduced any man might find himself sent to ‘the Transport’ (as it was called) at some point.  There would be no other reason for infantry rank and file to be dressed in that manner during WW1 (mounted infantry had been discontinued).

Edited by FROGSMILE
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3 hours ago, ExileEric said:

With his arms behind his back, it's not possible to see any wound or overseas service strips but the lack of corporal's/sergeant's chevrons suggest that the photo was taken before his promotions, both in 1918.

 

The seven-button service dress jacket pattern changed in 1916 to a stand and fall collar.

 

Hard to say, but if the man in the picture has a stand up only collar, then you have a date window for the image.

 

Regardless, the jacket was retired in early 1917, to be replaced by the British five-button version.

 

The jackets were largely obsolete by then anyway, the British SD already having largely displaced them, and those that remained in stock were for wear in Canada only.

 

Cheers,

 

GT.

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Thanks for that, Grovetown.  All these increments help.  Much appreciated.

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