William Ernest Bowles
Royal Defence Corps
Service number 26163
Died on the 17th April 1917.
Buried in the graveyard of St. Margaret's Church, Warnham, West Sussex - grave Reference: North of Church.
Son of Mrs. J. Green, of 9, East View Terrace, Newhaven, Sussex.
The CWGC index only gives Private Bowles' initials - I got his first names from the Warnham War Memorial
. His name isn't inscribed on the original list of fallen from 1917 but is on one of the additional plaques.
Private Bowles was attached to The Royal Defence Corps. This was a Corps of the British Army formed in 1916 and was composed of soldiers either too old or medically unfit for active front-line service. They were given 'Home Service' status which meant that they would not be posted overseas. The Royal Defence Corps provided troops for security and guard duties inside the United Kingdom, giving protection to important and vulnerable locations. The Corps also provided independent companies for guarding prisoner-of-war camps.
Private Bowles' headstone wasn't as easy to find as I first thought. Normally CWGC headstones stick out in cemeteries and graveyards but on this occasion it took me quite a while to find him. He is tucked under a big tree to the north of the church, near the boundary wall next to the road. I have attached two pictures of his headstone. One from the front and one from the back to show how the weather, conditions and location can effect a headstone. Often we see clean and well maintained CWGC headstone - this one, I'm sorry to say, is at the other end of the scale. The blemishes are stains on the stone - they can't be washed off. I deliberately haven't included a 'normal' full face picture of his headstone as it is too marked to read properly (I can if anyone really wants me to).
I can't find anything about Private Bowles in the newspaper archives.