Marvin Bowes, was killed November 1916 during the final attack of the Battle of the Somme. (Contributed-Arrow Lakes Historical Society)

Marvin Bowes, was killed November 1916 during the final attack of the Battle of the Somme. (Contributed-Arrow Lakes Historical Society)

Remembering Marvin Lorne Bowes, a Nakusp veteran

Bowes died in WWI


Arrow Lakes Historical Society

Marvin Bowes was born in Bolton, Ont., on April 19, 1894; the second of five children.

His father, Thomas Bowes, hoped to become a fruit farmer. He came to Nakusp in 1907, when the area was being promoted for fruit ranching. The family followed in 1908.

Bowes bought property in Glenbank, named it Albion Ranch, and planted fruit trees. He worked for the CPR for the next 30 years.

Marvin was 20 years old when the Great War broke out in 1914. In August 1915, the black-haired, blue-eyed logger decided to enlist in the 54th (Kootenay) Battalion.

Nakusp bade farewell to a group of young men, including Marvin, with a Patriotic Smoking Concert held at the Opera House, present day home of Shon’s Bike and Ski.

The “boys” sailed on the sternwheeler SS Bonnington the next day, on their way to the military training camp at Vernon. After training, Marvin embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia, with the 54th Battalion on the troopship Saxonia. They arrived in Plymouth, England, on Dec. 1, 1915.

Further training followed. On Aug. 13, 1916, they were sent overseas to France, for active duty as part of the 4th Canadian Infantry Division. They served in Belgium till mid-October, when they were sent to the Somme area in France; replacing the first three divisions which were withdrawn earlier in the month.

The Battle of the Somme saw British Empire troops assault a series of heavily fortified trenches in rolling French countryside. The battle started on July 1, 1916, and ended after the final assault on Nov. 18.

Fourth Division troops tried to capture Regina Trench in attacks on Oct. 21 and 25.

They finally succeeded on Nov. 11. As Regina Trench fell, the Germans fell back to a new fortification called Desire Trench. The turn of the 54th Battalion came when they were part of the assault on Desire Trench on Nov. 18. While the trench was captured, occupying troops were unsupported and ultimately forced to withdraw. This was a pattern repeated frequently throughout the whole Somme bloodbath – many deaths, but little ground gained.

Marvin Bowes was one of 1,250 Canadians killed, wounded or missing during the final attack of the Battle of the Somme. He was reported killed in action in the field on Nov. 18.

Commemoration of all British Empire dead of the Great War was done in the same manner. Bodies were buried near where death occurred – no soldiers were returned to their home country. All headstones share the same appearance, regardless of the soldier’s rank.

For each Canadian fatality, there is either a name carved on a headstone, or on one of two memorials. The Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, records names of those Canadians who fell in Flanders. The Vimy Memorial in France commemorates the names of 11, 285 Canadian soldiers with no known grave who died in France during the conflict. The name of Private Marvin Lorne Bowes is one of them.



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