Private Robert Charles Stanley Bower


Robert Charles Stanley Bower was born on 1 August 1897 at 77 Parkmount Street, Belfast, the last of seven children of mechanic (later engine fitter) Robert Bower and his wife Elizabeth (née Hanna). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in Roe Street, Belfast, with his parents and his three surviving siblings. Soon after, he commenced an apprenticeship as a fitter with John McLean & Sons, Engineers and Elevator Builders, of 76 Grosvenor Road, Belfast.

Bower enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 26 January 1915 (No.1423). He was only 17 at the time but gave his age as 19. He had done so without the permission of either his parents or employer, and both sought his discharge. On 29 January John McLean & Sons wrote to the regiment:

With reference to two boys, who we understand applied for enlisting, in your command, we beg respectfully to ask that these two boys be returned, as they are our apprentices and under age, the boy Stanley Bower being born in August 1897, and the boy Robert Patterson born in February 1898, both these boys have gone without the consent of their parents, who have been here with us and want them returned home at once. We beg to point out that 50% of our men and boys, have joined the colours, and in no case do we object although many of them were our apprentices, but as these two boys are so young, and we have been so much inconvenienced and at such serious loss through want of workers, we are sure that you will recognise our justification and readily exceed [sic] to our request.

Four days later a man named George Gifford wrote:

I am writing on behalf of Mr Robert Bower regarding his son Stanley who has joined the North Irish Horse without his consent, also to let you know he is only 17½ years old. His Father has been an invalid since June 1913 and will never be able to work or walk any more. Stanley is his only son, also his only support [and] it is his Father’s wish that you should let him home as soon as possible as he would like him to finish his apprenticeship. Under the above circumstances I think you will be justified in releasing him. Should you wish a copy of his Baptismal Certificate we will forward on same.

Following provision of his birth certificate, on 6 February 1915 Bower was discharged 'having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment, being underage' (paragraph 392(vi), King's Regulations). His military character was recorded as 'very good'.

Bower's invalid father died four months later.

It appears that Bower remained at his apprenticeship. In 1919 he was living at 26 Roe Street and working as an engineer. On 24 September that year he married Sarah Jane Hutchinson in the Newington Presbyterian Church, Belfast. They later emigrated to the United States, where Bower worked as a machinist for the General Electric Corporation in Niles, Ohio. He died in the Mountain View Convalescent Center in Pennsylvania on 26 December 1977 and was buried in the Niles Union Cemetery.