Their bodies are buried in peace; but their names liveth for evermore.
Their Duty Done
A tribute to the men and women of the East Gippsland Region who Died as a result of their participation in World War One : 1914 -1919
4740 Private Archibald James Bower - Glenaladale Killed in Action 18 August 1916
Archie’s story is not that different to the thousands of other young men who died on the Somme. He was one of six children, the son of James Bower and Harriett (nee Harper) and was born at Sale. As a child, the family shifted to Glenaladale where Archie first went to school before finishing his education at Sale and spending five months in the senior cadets.  When he was 20 years and 8 months, he enlisted at Sale on 5 November 1915, giving his address as Glenaladale via Fernbank. Two months later, his 23-year-old brother, Charles Robert, enlisted on 4 January in 1916 and they were both attached to the 8 th  Battalion, Archie with the 15 th  Reinforcements and Charles with the 17 th  Reinforcements. In March Archie sailed for the front and was marched into Etaples on 7 June and the following month on 29 July 1916 both he and Charles were in the same company. On 18 August, Archie was one of those who went over the top to take a trench 150 yards forward of their position near Mouquet Farm when the German fire wiped most of them out. It seems that his brother Charles was wounded and while in hospital, convinced of his brother’s death, he wrote home to tell the family. In early September Archie’s family were advised that he was missing. Base Records Office in Melbourne informed the family on 25 September that Archie had been wounded. The family responded with a letter in The Gippsland Times in early October that although he was wounded it is something to know that he was not among the fallen the word missing has a dread sound which would give them impression that they never received the letter from Charles. Ironically, unbeknown to the family, the Court of Enquiry in France was held the same day reaching the conclusion that Archie had been killed in action. His file was amended to wounded should be read killed in action. By June 1917 Archie’s name appears in the list of the fallen on the Bairnsdale honour roll and on the Villers-Bretonneux memorial in France. There is no known grave for Archie as he is buried somewhere NE of Pozieres. Sergeant Lay who survived the advance believed it would not be possible to recognise the exact spot where the grave is as so many others were buried about the same place. Before Archie left his home, he drew some designs, particularly flowers and butterflies, on white cotton for his mother to embroider and stitch into a bedspread. It is not known when his mother Harriet finished the bedspread but it was handed to Archie’s sister, Phoebe who married Rupert Luxford nine years after Archie’s death. Their son Archibald, named after his uncle, slept under the bedspread knowing its history and importance to the family. This bedspread has now been passed on to the Stratford Museum where it is part of their display.
….. wounded should read killed in action
The butterfly designs drawn by Archie before he left and, above, on the family farm. Photographs from the Shire of Wellington WW1 Facebook Tribute page.