18 May 2020                   

Husband: William Frederick Alfred Bowgen
Born: 1905 in Taunton, Somerset 1,2 (see note 1) Census: 1911 in 8 Court, High Street, Taunton, Somerset (see note 2) Died: 22 May 1941 in HMS Gloucester, Kithera Channel, Crete 3 (see note 3) Father: William Frederick Bowgen (1875 - 1950) Mother: Alice Louisa Bartin (1875 - 1951)
Wife: Ivy Gibbins Married: 1930 in Somerset 2 (see note 4)
Born: 25 Jun 1904 in Somerset 4,2 (see note 5) Died: 1999 in Somerset 5 (see note 6) Father: Mother:
1 M Private | Born: sp. Maureen B H Cornish |Married: Born: Died: | Died: | Buried
Sources: (1) . (2) . (3) Commonwealth War Graves Commission website http://www.cwgc.org/. (4) . (5) . Event Notes Note (1) Sep 1905 Taunton 5c 277 Note (2) Age 5, born Taunton, with family Note (3) Name: BOWGEN, WILLIAM FREDERICK ALFRED Initials: W F A Nationality: United Kingdom Rank: Leading Seaman Regiment/Service: Royal Navy Unit Text: H.M.S. Gloucester Age: 35 Date of Death: 22/05/1941 Service No: D/J 98717 Awards: D S M Additional information: Son of William and Alice Bowgen, of Taunton, Somerset; husband of J. Bowgen, of Taunton. Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 45, Column 3. Memorial: PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL From Wikipedia: Gloucester formed part of a naval force acting against German military transports to Crete, with some success. On 22 May 1941, while in the Kithera Channel, about 14 miles (26 km) north of Crete, she was attacked by German Stuka dive bombers and sank, having sustained at least four heavy bomb hits and three near-misses. Of the 807 men aboard at the time of her sinking, only 85 survived. Her sinking is considered to be one of Britain's worst wartime naval disasters. Photograph taken by a German airman recording the sinking of Gloucester off the coast of Crete, 22 May 1941 The circumstances of the sinking were featured by a BBC programme. According to this, the despatch of Gloucester, alone and low on fuel and anti-aircraft ammunition (less than 20% remaining), into danger was a "grievous error". Furthermore, the failure to attempt to rescue survivors after dark was "contrary to usual Navy practice". A survivor commented "The tradition in the Navy is that when a ship has sunk, a vessel is sent back to pick up survivors under cover of darkness. That did not happen and we do not know why. We were picked up by Germans." Another account of the sinking differs from, and adds to, the BBC report. In this, Gloucester and Fiji, both already low on ammunition, had been sent to support the rescue of survivors from the destroyer Greyhound. Fierce air attacks further depleted their ammunition and they were given permission to rejoin the main fleet. It was during their return that Gloucester was sunk. Fiji was sunk later the same day. On 30 May 1941, in a letter to the First Sea Lord, Sir Dudley Pound, Admiral Cunningham wrote, "The sending back of Gloucester and Fiji to the Greyhound was another grave error and cost us those two ships. They were practically out of ammunition but even had they been full up I think they would have gone. The Commanding Officer of Fiji told me that the air over Gloucester was black with planes." The wrecksite is a protected place under the Protection of Military Remains Act. Amongst the crew was the former Southampton footballer Norman Catlin Note (4) Sep 1930 Taunton 5c 617 Note (5) Sep 1904 Taunton 5c 273 Note (6) Oct 1999 Taunton born 25 Jun 1904 For comments and questions about this family, email Howard Slatter Updated 18 May 2020 Name Index