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Campaign Groups and Pairs 214


Four: Able Seaman J. R. Bowman, Royal Navy, who was one of the twelve survivors from the loss of the Hampshire which was mined and sunk on 5 June 1916 with the loss of over 700 souls including Field Marshal Kitchener; he afterwards served aboard the Q-ship Ceanothus


1914-15 Star (J.15315, J. R. Bowman. A.B., R.N.); British War and Victory Medals (J.15315. J. R. Bowman. A.B., R.N.); Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., G.V.R., 2nd issue, fixed suspension (J.15315 J. R. Bowman. A.B. H.M.S. Victory.) mounted as worn, light contact marks, otherwise good very fine and extremely rare (4)


£600-£800


John Robert Bowman was born in the Parish of East Rushton, Stalham, Norfolk, on 31 March 1896, and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 9 January 1912, a carpenter by trade. On the outbreak of war in 1914, he was serving in H.M.S. Hampshire and remained on Hampshire’s books until 10 June 1916, five days after she was sunk.


The cruiser Hampshire had just taken part in the battle of Jutland during which she is credited with the sinking of a German light cruiser and a submarine which she sank by ramming in the early hours of the battle. She was now selected for special duty to convey Lord Kitchener and his staff to Russia on a most important and top secret mission. Kitchener arrived at Scapa Flow on the morning of 5th June, with a north-easterly gale already well-established and no change forecast. A route was selected away from the known U-boat locations which was also thought to be clear of mines. The Hampshire left at 4.45pm but the gale was so strong that the escorting destroyers were ordered to return and the Hampshire reduced speed and carried on alone. At about 7.40pm, in a position between Marwick Head and the Brough of Birsay, she struck a mine and sank within 15 minutes. It was later ascertained that the U-75 had laid a minefield on 28/29th May.


Three rafts carrying some 50-70 men each managed to get away, but the seas and intense cold caused nearly all to perish in a short period of time. One boat was lowered but smashed with the loss of its occupants. The following morning 1 Warrant Officer and 11 men from the rafts, including Able Seaman Bowman, reached the rocky Orkney coast in safety. Others who landed thereabouts died soon afterwards from exposure. Survivors stated that Kitchener and his staff came up onto the quarterdeck to get into a boat and Able Seaman Bowman answered questions on this matter in the subsequent Court of Enquiry as follows:


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