Bernard was born in the June Qtr of 1892 in the Chester Registration District.(Hawarden was often included in Chester in those days.)
He first appeared on a census in 1901. He was living with his family in Manor Lane, Hawarden (Flint). His father William White Bower 35 was a Farmer who had been born in Derbyshire. Mother Rachel 32 had been born in Tarvin, Cheshire. Their children were recorded as Bernard Bakewll Bower 8 , Ronald Lea Bower 7 and Ruth White Bower 5. All the children had been born at Broughton Hall, Flintshire. There were 2 Domestic Servants, both maids, Elizabeth Wynne 20 and Margaret Jones, 19.
The 1911 census sees the family still in Hawarden, living at Mawr Farm. William White Bower 44 was still a Farmer. Rachel 41, his wife of 19 years had born 3 children who were all still living. Bernard B. Bower 18 was a Surveyor of Land. Ronald L. Bower 17 was working on the Farm. There was a cook, Elizabeth Wynne (she was still there) and a resident Irish cowman Michael Hyns (?)
Bernard attended Hawarden County School and is on the Roll of Honour in the school Hall. Please click on the link. (His brother, Ronald Lea Bower also attended Hawarden School and there is an entry in a register for him. It says Bower, Ronald Lea. Date of birth, 3rd January 1894. Address, Manor, Hawarden. Father’s occupation, Farmer. Date of entry, 2nd May 1904. Date of leaving Xmas 1907. Occupation, Farmer).
Bernard’s Army Service Records and his Pension Records have have survived and are accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk
The service records tell us that he attested on the 13th January 1916 at Chester. His address was given as The Manor, Hawarden. He was 23 years and 8 months old and was a surveyer but was at that time clerk to SRD Flint. (?) He expressed a preference for an artillery regiment. He was firstly in the Army Reserve and he began his actual service on 1st of May 1916 and it ended on the 4th April 1918 when he was discharged as being physically unfit. All of his service was ‘home’.
His Army Service Records tell us more about army bureaucracy than they do about Bernard. There is very tetchy correspondence between The War Office and the Labour Corps records in Nottingham and the Ministry of Food which seemed to be very keen on transferring Bernard from the Labour Corps to them.
It is a catalogue of confused and confusing communications. His Pension Records, however, give us more information about the man himself. He was medically examined on the 1st May 1916. He was a tall well built man who was 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighed 161 lbs and had a chest measurement of 37 inches with a range of expansion of 2 and a half inches. His eyesight was good. His physical development was good but despite all of that a heart murmur was detected.
This resulted in the following statement some days later. ‘Slight defects, but not sufficient to cause rejection:- Mitral Murmur. Fit for Sedentary work. dated 13th January 1916. (This means there was a problem with the mitral valve in his heart). This is why he was allocated to the Labour Corps where he would have been concerned with personnel and recruitment matters. The records trace a confusing pathway through the army Joined on enlistment:- Royal Welsh Fusiliers 45888 (crossed out) 23rd K.L.R 83856 (crossed out) 1st Labour Battalion 193006 (crossed out) W.C.Labour Centre 193006
He was Discharged No longer physically fit for War Service on the 4th April 1918. There are papers in the records concerned with the calculation of his pension. He was awarded 30/-.
The England and Wales National Probate Calendar (index of wills and administrations) includes the following entry dated 20th June 1919. Bernard Bakewell BOWER of 106, Warbeck Moor, Aintree, Liverpool Aeroplane Inspector, died 9th November 1918. Administration Liverpool 20th June to William White BOWER, Farmer. Effects £192.6s.
So Bernard was employed for a short time after leaving the Army, as an Aeroplane Inspector.
Bernard’s grave is in the churchyard of St. Deniol’s in Hawarden. The inscription tells us why he died. Private Bernard Bakewell Bower, 45888 R.W.F. depot of Hawarden, age 26 of influenza. (Monumental Inscriptions Volume 111 – Lovelock Page 135)
On a personal note, I have a good friend, whose Mother’s first husband was buried close to Bernard. My friend’s mother would always say “Look after young Bower” when my friend went to tend the grave many, many years after. (Mavis Williams)