The AIF Project

William Thomas BOWMAN

Regimental number2868
Place of birthBingara, New South Wales
SchoolPublic School, Bingara, New South Wales
ReligionRoman Catholic
AddressBingara, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation39
Next of kinFather, Henry Bowman, Keera Street, Bingara, New South Wales
Enlistment date23 May 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name56th Battalion, 7th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/73/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A11 Ascanius on 25 October 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll19th Battalion
FateDied of wounds 20 April 1917
Place of death or woundingFrance
Date of death20 April 1917
Age at death45
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Other details

War service: Western Front

Statement, 3002 Pte H. WILLIAMS, 19th Bn: 'We were in an outpost near Bullecourt when a German shell came over and burst near us and killed Bowman and another. Bowman was hit by a part of the shell. He lived only for a short time afterwards. He was buried in the outpost.'

Statement, 2983 Pte George Robert THOMSON, B Coy, 19th Bn: 'I was with William T. Bowman (19.B,VII) whwen he was badly wounded, about the middle of April, near Lagnicourt. We were in an outpost together at 7 a.m. when he was blown up by a shell. He lived for 10 hours, and then died of his wounds. We could not move him as we were too close to the line, and were being observed by the enemy. I was with him all the time. He was unconscious and could not speak. He was buried that night (near the post, close to where he was hit) by Sergt. John Corbet (19.B.VII). I have written to his Mother'.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, BOWMAN William Thomas
Red Cross File No 0480706P

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