Arthur Ronald Bowditch

Date of birth: 1899
Place of birth: Eastleigh
Service No.: 39065
Rank: Private
Regiment: Royal Berkshire
Battalion: 1st battalion
Died: 24 August 1918, aged 19 years
Buried: St. Hilaire Cemetery Extension, Frevent, France (L. 13)

Life before the War

Arthur was the fifth of 7 siblings born to Fred and Sarah K. Bowditch (nee Newman), who married in Dorchester on 17 May 1885.

Fred was born in Netherbury, Dorset in 1864 and died in Southampton in 1933.

Sarah was born in Ringstead, Dorset in 1866 and she passed away in Southampton in 1946.

Siblings:

  1. Olive Blanche   b. 1887 Dorchester   d. 1961 Southampton   Married Charles Edward Maynard in Poole in 1905. Married Ernest S. Wright in Eastleigh in 1915.
  2. Herbert George   b. 1888 Dorchester   d. 1953
  3. Willesden Frederick William   b. 1891 Eastleigh   d. 1949 Southampton   Married May H. Reeves in Southampton in 1945.
  4. Edward L.   b. 1895 Eastleigh   d. ?
  5. Arthur Ronald
  6. Lawrence Albert J.   b. 1902 Eastleigh    d. 1916 Eastleigh
  7. Dorothy Kathleen   b. 1910 Eastleigh   d. 1958 Southampton   Married Sidney T. Waite in Southampton in 1938.

War Service

The battalion was formed in Aldershot in August 1914, under the command of the 6th Brigade in the 2nd Division. They landed in Rouen on 13 August 1914 and, amongst other actions, took part in the Battle of Loos in September 1915 where the battalion lost 288 men in one day. On 13 December 1915, the battalion was transferred to the 99th Brigade in the same Division. During the Battle of the Somme, the battalion’s major action was on 27 July at Delville Wood where it lost a further 264 on that day alone.
The battalion had a relatively quiet latter half of 1916 in a rear area of the front.

By May 1917, the battalion was down to 2 officers (both wounded) and 94 other ranks. In the next 3 months, its strength was back up to 38 officers and 694 other ranks. In late 1917, the battalion took part in the Battle of Cambrai and then they lost many men in March 1918, when the Germans launched a ferocious attack on various fronts.

The roles were reversed in the August, when the Germans were forced to retreat as attacks were launched to win back lost ground.

It was in this period that Arthur lost his life.

Frevent was a place of some importance on the lines of communication during the war. The town had many Casualty Clearing Stations in its locality and the great majority of the 304 Commonwealth dead in the Extension originated from these hospitals.

His headstone reads: “Rest eternal grant him Lord and let light perpetual shine upon him.”

Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 22.10.15
Updated:

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