Private Alwyne Bower, the son of Enoch and Martha Bower (née Shelton) was born December 29th 1893 in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. Enoch and Martha, both natives of Nottinghamshire, were married in 1884 in Basford.
Like the overwhelming majority of the local male population of Eastwood, Alwyne’s father was a collier. In his early works DH Lawrence, also a collier’s son from Eastwood, offers a vivid depiction of the world of Alwyne’s early childhood.
By 1901 the family were living in New Village, Creswell, in the parish of Elmton, Derbyshire (close to the Nottinghamshire border) where the Creswell Colliery had opened in 1897. Enoch and Martha now had eight children; Annie, Martha Constance , Edith , Alice, William, Alwyne, Enoch and John. New Village was an arts and crafts style Model Village built by the Bolsover Colliery Company to designs by architect Percy B. Houfton for the workers of Creswell Colliery. Influenced by garden village principles, designed around a large oval village green with a bandstand, it provided the workers with modern facilities and integrated community amenities. People came from all across the county to work at the pit, but prior to this Creswell was a farming hamlet.
At some point after April 1901 the family moved to Mansfield, where Enoch Bower died in 1906 aged 49. In 1911 his widow, Martha, was living in Leyton Villas, Mansfield with five of her children, Alice, Willie, Alwyne , Enoch and John. By this time Alwyne was 17 and working as an an apprentice to a fitter in an iron foundry.
Alwyne joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry (Chatham Division) on 9 January 1912. He married Nellie Rhodes in 1916 and they lived at 66 Yorke Street, Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire.
Alwyne’s brother William was killed on 14 July 1916 while serving with the Leicestershire Regiment. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. His youngest brother, John, was working as a grocer when he joined the Tank Corps on 11 August 1918 at the age of 20, and was demobilized and transferred to Class Z Army Reserve in December 1919.
Alwyne Bower was posthumously awarded the Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal.
His widow Nellie married Lewis Platts in Mansfield in 1920. She died aged 85 in 1977.
Alwyne Bower’s body was never recovered. He is remembered on the St Mark’s Church War Memorial, Mansfield and the Chatham Naval Memorial.
War Graves Roll. The Naval and Military Press Ltd.
Census Returns of England & Wales, 1901 and 1911. The National Archives of the UK
General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes
Royal Marines Registers of Service. The National Archives of the UK. Series ADM 159.