Charles BOWELL

Inns of Court Regiment

Berkhamsted, WW1

September, 2014


Jane Bowell (janebowell1 @t wrote from Northampton to ask: I have discovered an old postcard taken by Newman of Berkhamsted, numbered 3489. The card is of 18 ww1 soldiers - one is my grandfather the cap badge is a solid cross. My grandfather is fourth from the right in the back row and certainly looks as if he doesn't want to be there. Have you ever come across this before?

My grandfather, Charles Bowell was a leather merchant in Leicester he was the eldest of three brothers. Thomas Henry was an architect in Leicester. Archibald E G Bowell the youngest was also a leather rep/salesman and  was killed in Bazentin on 14th July 1916 -  the Somme - and  I have done extensive research on Archie who was in the 9th/8th Tigers regiment in Leicester.

The family NEVER spoke about my grandfather in WW1, maybe because his brother Archie was killed at age of 26, and so it was quite a shock to come across this photo/postcard this year. I have no idea what year this was taken. My grandfather Charles was born in 1881 to Charles and Charlotte Bowell so would have been 30 as war broke out.

James Thomas Newman took a large number of photographs of soldiers during the First World War, and undoubtedly pictures such as this one were taken as something each soldier in it could send back home to their family. Berkhamsted was the base of the Inns of Court Officer Training Centre. I have seen another post card taken by him numbered 3137 from November 1917 suggesting the photo you have was probably taken in early 1918.


If you look at the cap badges there appear to be two different kinds - two round and shiny with no internal detail and the rest (where clear enough to be identified) show a cross with a surround. For comparison I show the black version of the Inns of Court cap badge - including an image shrink to size for comparison, and I have seen other group photographs of Inns of Court soldiers where the cap badge shows up as a cross in the same way. The two soldiers in the above picture presumably have the far shinier brass version of the cap badge.

Jane commented: I would  imagine that my great grandfather wanted him to have a commission plus his brother Archie had one in 1915, Archie became the local hero and ww1 was pushed to the back of the other family members s mind as being too painful.

If he was rejected for a commission he would still have been of use to the army and I assume he is the Private Charles W Bowell G/30537, The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) and may never had seen front line action.


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For the record Charles William Bowell was born 10 March 1881 at Barton Regis, Gloucestershire, baptised in Bristol  10 April 1881 and died in 1959. The following shows the Bowell family at 117, Evington Road, Leicester, in the 1901 census.

Chas W Bowell Head Married 1861 Inspector Traveller Machine Co Salisbury, Wiltshire
Charlotte E Bowell Wife Married 1863 - Bristol, Gloucestershire
Charles W Bowell Son Single 1881 Commercial Traveller Leather Bristol, Gloucestershire
Thomas Henry Bowell Son Single 1883 Pupil Architect Bristol, Gloucestershire
Archibald G E Bowell Son Single 1889 School Boy Norwich, Norfolk
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