BOWLER, Edmund Robert
(Service number 11/111 or 15/111)
|First Rank||Lieutenant Colonel||Last Rank|
|Date||21 July 1866||Place of Birth||Koua Bank farm, Inchclutha Balclutha|
|Address at Enlistment||"Athelstane", Ardwick St,Gore|
|Occupation||Solicitor at Gore|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||rs Mary Ethel Bowler (wife), Gore, New Zealand|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||2nd Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Headquarters|
|Date||14 December 1914|
|Transport||HMNZT 13 Verdala, or HMNZT 14 Willochra, or HMNZT 15 Knight of the Garter|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination|
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Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
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|New Zealand Memorials|
Edmund Bowler was born at Inchclutha near Balclutha in 1866. He was the son of Edmund and Jane Bowler. He graduated with a law degree from Otago University in 1888 and married Mary Ethel Hepburn in 1890. They had three daughters who enjoyed a relatively privileged upbringing. Two of the girls attended finishing schools in France. Edmund established a legal practice in Gore. He was very involved in local military groups being Lieutenant-Colonel in the 7th Southland Mounted Rifles.
Edmund enlisted for service in November 1914. On the 25th April 1915 he was the probably the first member in the uniform of the New Zealand Forces to step ashore at Gallipoli about 7.20am - about three hours after the initial Australian landings. Bowler himself was attached to the 1st Brigade of the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) and served as its Beach Landing Officer. He was to oversee all landing and departure from the beach for the Brigade, and in the first few days watched as about 3,000 wounded were sent out to waiting ships. He observed the now known deficiencies in the planning of the offensive and in the leadership of the men. His position as Landing Officer meant he was in contact with those in leadership positions and unfortunately he made his views known. Speaking out against leadership and planning in a time of conflict was not looked upon kindly especially when New Zealanders were being lead to believe the campaign was a successful operation.
In September 1915 Edmund was medically evacuated to London where he met Thomas MacKenzie the New Zealand High Commissioner. Again he made his views known regarding the campaign. In February 1916 he returned to duty and was sent to Egypt thinking he would be returning to active service, but four days later he was sent home to New Zealand arriving here in April 1916. He was discharged from service. Back in New Zealand Edmund returned to his legal practice. At the wars end Lieutenant-General Sir William Birdwood from England, who was known by Edmund, was touring New Zealand acknowledging the service of our country towards the war cause. When the tour was to visit Gore the Lieutenant-General absented himself from that days visit, leaving his wife to visit the town. His absence from the Gore visit was thought to be a snub to Bowler and one could imagine that the General probably had no wish to socialize with the man who had been so critical of his country’s army commanders and their organization of the Gallipoli campaign.
Edmund retired in 1927 and moved to Timaru and died later that year.
Although slightly wounded twice he was never mentioned in despatches or decorated. There are claims that his War Records have been purged of some of his personal records. His gravestone in the Timaru Cemetery does not record anything of his military service in World War I. Edmund Bowler was a man of conscience and honesty, but he paid dearly for his convictions.
Researched and Written by
Alan McKenzie; Tony Rippin, South Canterbruy Museum
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