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Webmatters : Captain Geoffrey Bowlby
Rough Map of Area

Captain Geoffrey Bowlby


The memorial crosses to Captain Bowlby and Captain Skrine have been relocated to this very neat and tidy area maintained by the CWGC on the Begijnenbosstrasse to the east of Ieper.

They are not very far from the RE Grave at Railway wood which is signposted off the main Menin Road (N8). Continue up past the Cemetery and drive straight across the N37.

A more direct route is to take the Menin Road (N8) out to Hell Fire Corner (which is now a huge roundabout) then take the N37 for just under a kilometre. You will come to the Begijnenbosstrasse crossroads. Turn left (The RE Grave is now on your right).

You will soon see the memorials a hundred metres or so on your right hand side.

From here you can continue up to the St Charles-Potyze Cemetery or go back to the RE Grave Cemetery.

Memorial cross to Captain Geoffrey Bowlby

Decimal 50.855586 2.930340 Map



The Cavalry in action — in the trenches

At 0330 hours on 13th May 1915 the German guns opened up on the British positions around Hooge. The shelling continued without cease until 1300 hours when it became more intermittent for the remainder of the day.

The evening before the 1st and 3rd Cavalry Divisions had been re-designated the Cavalry Force and they now held the front line between Bellewaerde and slightly to the north of the village of Wieltje. Each Division consisted of three Brigades containing three Cavalry Regiments each. A Cavalry Brigade mustered about 900 officers and men.

3rd Cavalry Division were on the right of the line immediately above Hooge and the 1st on their immediate left, with 4th Infantry Division to their left.

The shelling of the Cavalry Lines was particularly fierce between Hooge and the Sint-Juliaan Road. On a modern map between the N8 and the N313.

At 0800 hours the Germans managed to punch a hole in the hastily created trench system and started pushing the Leicestershire Yeomanry of 7th Cavalry Brigade backwards. Two of their squadrons were dislodged but the third in the support trenches held firm.

Elsewhere to the north in 4th Division’s lines there had been a few gaps created but these had been swiftly plugged. In the case of the 2nd Bn Essex Regiment they were forced to advance over 500 metres across open ground losing 180 casualties.

The Germans continued to press the line but it was only in the area of the 7th Cavalry Brigade that any serious damage had been done. Under the intense bombardment communications were as always proving difficult and initially Command did not realise that the Leicestershire Yeomanry were managing to hang on with the aid of the North Somerset Yeomanry on their right and the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays) on their left.

A counter attack was organised using the 8th and 9th Cavalry Brigades. Captain Geoffrey Bowlby’s Royal Horse Guards were part of the 8th Cavalry Brigade.

At 1430 hours after a short preliminary bombardment the counter attack began in the face of very heavy shrapnel and rifle fire. Although the British managed to regain their front lines, they found them untenable. The weight of enemy shelling was simply too great.

It was thus decided to fall back to a line which ran from Railway Wood to the north where it met up with the old trench system again.

The line had been held but the cost to 3rd Cavalry Division had been high with 226 men killed and 827 wounded.


The cross

Carries the inscription :

In proud and loving memory of
Geoffrey Vaux Salvin Bowlby
Captain Royal Horse Guards
Born 1st December 1883
Killed in action near this spot on 13th May 1915
While leading a counter-attack

The son of Mrs Salvin Bowlby, of 56, Lowndes Square, London he was married to The Hon. Mrs. Geoffrey Bowlby, of Croughton House, Brackley, Northants.

His grave was lost and he is today commemorated on Panel 3 of the Menin Gate.

There are three chairs dedicated in his name within St George’s Memorial Church in Ieper.


Other monuments in the area