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Remembered Today:

18th Bn [Western Ontario Regiment]), C.E.F. infantry uniform


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I am continuing to research the War Dead of Areley Kings, Worcestershire, and have recently been working on a lad who emigrated to Canada with his family in 1909.  He appeared on the village's full Roll of Honour of all who served, but the news of his death in action had clearly not reached Worcestershire by the time the various memorials were completed in 1920.  The fact of his death only surfaced by accident two years ago.  Since when I have managed to have his name added to the village Pillar of Remembrance.
Vincent had served in the Militia/Territorials of the Worcestershire Regiment in the U.K. and continued to do so in Canada in the 30th Regiment, Wellington Rifles, subsequently joining the 18th Bn (Western Ontario Regiment) in October 1914.  He earned an M.M. and Bar late in the War.
53998, Corporal (Acting Sergeant) Vincent Bowen was killed in action by a bullet to the stomach, near Arras, on 26th August, the first day of the Battle of the Scarpe (most likely, based on a study of the War Diary, in the assault on and capture of Guémappe) .
While I have been astounded by the wealth of information available to researchers in Canada, and by the generosity of every individual and organisation I have approached (particularly Eric Edwards, who runs magnificent online resources devoted purely to the 18th Bn, C.E.F., I have been less successful in contacting his family.  By chance I did see a rather poor scan of an image, allegedly of Vincent, posted by a descendant who has since proved to be incredibly difficult to contact.  This is the only image I have of this soldier and I attach it (improved as best I can with PhotoShop) with a possibly unjustified query for all those on the Great War Forum who are so much more knowledgeable than I about matters of uniform.
The 18th was an infantry battalion but it seems to me that the accoutrements worn by the man in this photo are more likely to be those of a cavalry- or artilleryman and that, therefore, the family may have mixed up ancestral images.  I have seen a photo on the 18th Bn Facebook page of a group of soldiers (presumably of men of the battalion) and two of them are wearing bandoliers (they are seated and obscured by men in front so their legs - and spurs, if any - are not visible).  I imagine that the lanyard/aiguillette is a common enough optional item, perhaps attached to a jack-knife in the breast pocket, but it is the bandolier, spurs and what appears to be a riding crop behind his back which give me pause.  Please can anyone help?

18th Bn FB Full length portrait - darken.jpg

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Personally having researched family casualties here and in Canada the information available continues to reveal new answers and it is indeed astounding what eventually can be found. After years of research the work put into recording WFA Pension Records has finally provided me with confirmation of my paternal grandfather's service.

Records in UK were destroyed during bombing WW2 - the wealth of details for Canadian Forces didn't suffer the same fate. The database includes records for casualties and all who served with the CEF - Soldiers, Nurses and Chaplains. The Circumstances of Death Registers are also very detailed. 

Lots of research and dedication has gone into building all these databases and making them available online - so I would like to echo your sentiments.

 

https://www.westernfrontassociation.com/ancestry-pension-records/

https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/personnel-records.aspx

https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/mass-digitized-archives/circumstances-death-registers/Pages/circumstances-death-registers.aspx

https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/249418?Vincent Bowen

https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/books/page?

page=372&book=1&sort=pageAschttps://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56184686/vincent-bowen

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/148045227/vincent-bowen

 

2 hours ago, ExileEric said:

While I have been astounded by the wealth of information available to researchers in Canada, and by the generosity of every individual and organisation I have approached (particularly Eric Edwards, who runs magnificent online resources devoted purely to the 18th Bn, C.E.F., I have been less successful in contacting his family.

 

Now what was your question :rolleyes:

 

Edited by BarbaraG
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Hi ExcileEric. You appear to be well ahead in your research so I wonder if it is as simple as Vincent was a 'Driver' within the 18th Battalion. If so riding breeches, spurs and a whip may've have been issued. 

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Gunner 87.  Thanks for that.  I'd vaguely heard something on those lines.  If he was a driver, what would that be likely to entail in an infantry regiment like the 18th?
BarbaraG.  Thanks for the links.  It's good to see someone as awed as I am by the quality of research materials available in Canada.  Vincent was actually from Guelph, so I was interested in the Bruce County 18th Bn links, which had fascinating and helpful stuff that was broader than just Bruce's specifically local material.

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1 hour ago, ExileEric said:

Gunner 87.  Thanks for that.  I'd vaguely heard something on those lines.  If he was a driver, what would that be likely to entail in an infantry regiment like the 18th?
BarbaraG.  Thanks for the links.  It's good to see someone as awed as I am by the quality of research materials available in Canada.  Vincent was actually from Guelph, so I was interested in the Bruce County 18th Bn links, which had fascinating and helpful stuff that was broader than just Bruce's specifically local material.

 

After confirming the picture was taken while Vincent was serving with the 18th Battalion, Western Ontario Regiment and not the 30th Regiment, Wellington Rifles by the cap badge, I wondered if he had been in a reconnaissance company and as such mounted. Unfortunatley, I couldn't find any correlating information other than the CEF Infantry Regiment trained and used Scouts. I just can't imagine there was no role for horses within a Canadian Infantry Regiment. 

Edited by Gunner 87
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Think this may solve it. The CEF Infantry Regiments did use horses. https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/tactical/infantrybattalion.htm I think it likely Vincent served with the Battalion Head Quarters Transport Section. 

Edited by Gunner 87
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Gunner 87.  Thanks again for that.  As this was the nearest, inevitably vague, possibility that has ever been suggested), I suspect that I shall have to be satisfied with saying in Vincent's written memorial that if the photograph is of Vincent (always bearing in mind the possibility of a confusion within the family) the only explanation of his unusual uniform is that he was a driver with Battalion H.Q.  It might also explain the lack of promotion for so long in his career with the Battalion.  It looks as though it's all going to remain one of research's frustrating and insoluble mysteries.  Thank goodness they are comparatively few and far between.

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