Harry Cecil Bowen (1895 – 1923)

diligenceHarry Cecil Bowen was born on New Year’s Day 1895 in Wrotham Heath, and the second eldest of eight children to Henry Bowen, a local brickmaker, and Alice Ada Terry. He was christened in St Mary’s Platt Parish Church and attended Platt School, afterwards working as a farm labourer.

Cecil (as he was more commonly known) enlisted in the Royal Navy on 9 December 1915, first serving as a stoker, second class at HMS Pembroke II – a shore establishment in Sheerness that was primarily used for the Chatham barracks with men returning there between ships for leave, training and admin. On 8 Match 1916 he transferred to HMS Diligence, a depot ship based at Scapa Flow, on 8 March 1916. The ship would have acted as a “Post Box” and accounting, pay centre etc. for the Destroyers’ equipment, munitions and men. Cecil would have been serving as part of the support team. Eighteen months later K29800 Stoker, 1st Class H C Bowen returned to Pembroke II and was invalided out of the Navy on 17 October 1917, having been suffering from tuberculosis – a condition that eventually took his life on 31 August 1923. In his final years he lived in a shed at the end of the garden at Forge Cottages in Wrotham Heath, and he died there with his family by his bedside.

As Cecil died after the construction of the Platt War memorial his name was not included on the original memorial plaques, however he was commemorated on another memorial that was created in 1923, and mounted at the back of the church. In 2016 his name (as Harry) was included on a new plaque that was added to the relocated war memorial.

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