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New Zealand Railway Troops

From the Church of Saint Stephen War Memorial, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

Sapper Edwin Leonard Bowden was the second son of John Henry and Elizabeth Bowden of 22 Tivoli Street, Cheltenham. He was an old boy of Christchurch School and for 8 years was a chorister of St. Stephen’s Church. Before emigrating to New Zealand in 1912, he was a grocer’s assistant. When war was declared he volunteered for service in the New Zealand Engineers and was sent to France where he was wounded at the battle of Messines and was also suffering from trench fever which necessitated his evacuation to the New Zealand Hospital, Brockenhurst, Hampshire. His injuries precluded further active service, but he decided to remain in France and work was found for him with the 5th New Zealand Railway Troops on the light railway serving the New Zealand Infantry Division.

On the 13th of December 1917 he was involved in an accident when a car he was working on ran over him. He died in hospital from his injuries on the 17th of January 1918 at the age of 23. He is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Plot XXVI, Row CC, Grave 9A. There are photographs of him in The Graphic of the 28th of July 1917 and the 26th of January 1918. Edwin had two brothers who also served; Gilbert William who served with the Gloucestershire Regiment (photograph in The Graphic of the 31st of March 1917), and John, a Sergeant in the South Lancashire Regiment.