23rd October 1916

Two local men died on 23rd October 1916. Private Oscar William Bowen, 3rd Battalion Warwickshire Volunteer Regiment died at home, Ladbrook Park, Tanworth-in-Arden, and Driver Charles Henry Haynes, 31st Bde. Small Arms Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery who was killed in Salonika when his dugout collapsed.

Oscar William Bowen was a 51-year-old prominent landowner in Tanworth-in-Arden when he died in 1916. He was born in Manchester in 1865, and baptised at Manchester Cathedral in 1866. Ladbrook Park was purchased from Earl Amherst by Mrs Bowen of Moss Side in 1890 for her son to occupy. Oscar Bowen, who had married Beatrice Mary Heald in 1886, moved from his previous home at Haseley Hall, near Warwick, to become a gentleman farmer at Ladbrook Park.

He recorded his occupation on the 1911 census as “playing golf and obeying the baby”. This was crossed out by the enumerator and replaced with the term “private means”.  Mr Bowen was also creative with the occupations of others in his household: his 14-year-old son, Eric, was “studying for something not settled”; his 16-year-old daughter, Gwendoline, was recorded as “helping mother (sometimes)”; and their 73-year-old housekeeper, Louisa Farley, was recorded as “working for the good of others”.

Known in the village as “The Squire”, Oscar Bowen was a county councillor, and for many years was Chairman of the Solihull Board of Guardians. He was a leading figure in local sporting circles and was one of the founders of Ladbrook Golf Club, whose course was situated on his estate. He was also extremely active as a Private in the Warwickshire Volunteer Battalion (previously the Volunteer Training Corps), and he provided land on his estate for the battalion’s Whitsuntide camp in 1915.

It was during the performance of his volunteer duties guarding a munitions factory at night that he caught the chill from which he subsequently died.  He was buried with full military honours at Tanworth-in-Arden and is recorded on the Tanworth-in-Arden war memorial.

He left a widow, four sons and three daughters. Three of his sons were on active service – Trooper Cyril Heald Bowen (1890-1936), Warwickshire Yeomanry; Lieutenant Guy Harcourt Bowen (1892-1959), South Staffordshire Regiment; and Lieutenant Eric Clifford Bowen (1896-1949), Bedford Yeomanry.  The fourth son, eldest son Oscar Henry Leigh Bowen, was studying medicine in 1911 and died, aged 40, in 1927.

Charles Henry Haynes was the youngest of the five children (four sons and one daughter) of parents Thomas William (a wood sawyer) and Jane (a midwife). He was born in Knowle in 1889, and baptised at Knowle parish church on 3rd February 1916. The family was recorded as living in Station Road, Knowle on the 1891, 1901, and 1911 census returns, although father Thomas had died in November 1901, aged 51, so he was spared the knowledge of the death of two of his sons in the war.

By 1911, Charles had joined the Army and was serving in India as a Driver with the 67th Battery, Royal Field Artillery. He was killed on 23rd October 1916 serving as a Driver with 31st Brigade Small Arms Ammunition Column, a group of dedicated vehicles carrying artillery and small arms ammunition to a combatant unit. It seems that his dugout collapsed and he was one of several men killed.

He is buried at Lahana Military Cemetery, Greece, and is also commemorated on the war memorial in the Soldiers’ Chapel, Knowle. As he was a former choir boy at Knowle parish church, he is also commemorated on an individual plaque in the church choir stalls.

His brother Thomas Walter Haynes died on 29th August 1916.

If you have any further information about either of these men, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian

tel.: 0121 704 6977
email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk


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