Leonard Bowsher was one of three brothers that served in the Great War but are not listed in any of the records for those serving from Abbots Langley. All have a claim to be considered Abbots Langley “men”.
Leonard was born at Nash Mills in the autumn of 1894, which at the time was part of the Civil Parish of Abbots Langley. He was living with his mother Mary and brothers in Nash Mills at the time of the 1901 Census. His father had died earlier in 1901 and his mother worked as a Hand Envelope Folder at John Dickinson’s Mills. His record was initially found in the Soldiers Died in the Great War records where he was listed being born in Abbots Langley, and subsequently his brother William was also identified in that archive. Eventually information about his other brother, George, was found in the Absent Voter Records, where he gave Abbots Langley as the Parish of his residence in the autumn of 1918. William was killed in action in September 1916, whilst George survived the War and returned to Nash Mills after being de-mobilised.
Little is known about Leonard’s early military record. He enlisted at Hertford and by August 1917 had risen to the rank of Sergeant in the 7th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment.
The Bedfordshire’s were in action on 10th August at Glencorse Wood, near Hooge. The battalion attacked at 4.35am, and then faced a strong German counter-attack before being relieved later that evening. After a period in the reserve lines the 7th Bedfordshire’s returned to the Front Line and their War Diary records that they were
“detailed to carry out an attack on the Bosch strong point at the north-west corner of Inverness Copse. A heavy shrapnel barrage opened at ZERO hour (4.45am). But owing to some mistake a battery of 4.5 howitzers detailed to shoot on the enemy's strong point fired short and on to our B Company about to move forward to the attack, knocking 50% of their effectives out”.
It is possible that Leonard Bowsher and Arthur Botwright, another Abbots Langley man also serving with the 7th Bedfordshire’s both died as a result this “friendly fire”. Arthur Botwright died on 16th August, however Leonard Bowsher’s death was recorded on the following day, 17th August. However both men may have died after the attack on 10th August as the 7th Bedford’s grimly held their ground despite fierce counter-attacks.
Leonard was commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial near to Ypres, and on the St Mary’s Apsley End Roll of Honour, on the Hemel Hempstead War Memorial, and on the John Dickinson War Memorial, which indicated that at some point he had been employed at one of Dickinson’s Mills.