Private George W. Bowman, Service Number 1308084
George was born in Johnson City, Washington County, Tennessee on 1 August 1889. He enlisted in the National Guard in Johnson City on 17 July 1917 and was assigned to Company F, 3rd Infantry Regiment, Tennessee Army National Guard as a Private.
The 3rd Infantry after being called to active service in the United States Army on 25 July 1917 would soon become part of the 117th Infantry Regiment, 59th Infantry Brigade, 30th Division. George stayed with Company F, 2nd Battalion. They were dispatched to and arrived Camp Sevier, Greenville, South Carolina for training on 8 September. There they would join units from North and South Carolina, as well as those from Tennessee to form the core of the 30th Division, later known as the Old Hickory Division in honor of General and President Andrew Jackson. While here George also trained as a Cook.
George departed Camp Sevier on 5 May 1918 with Company F for Camp Mills, Long Island, New York to await transportation overseas. He along with others were given leave and for days afterwards and on the ship nursed sore necks from the hours they spent looking at all the tall skyscrapers of New York City. After boarding the SS Northumberland in Brooklyn, New York, they set off for Liverpool, England on 11 May and arrived on 23 May. After disembarking the ship he and the four infantry regiments of the 30th Division boarded troop trains and were taken to the port cities of Dover and Folkestone for the channel crossing over the next couple of days. He and his company arrived the port city of Calais, France on the 25th. As the 30th Division piecemealed into France just as they had done into England, they were taken to Audruicq by train and marched the short distance to the various towns and villages known as the Eperlecques Training Area in France. George was billeted with the 117th at Nortbecourt and began Phase “A” Training with the British 39th Division on 10 June 1918.
Phase “A” was to be completed on 10 July, but was extended to the morning of 16 July. Phase “B” began the same day for the 30th Division with a three day march into Belgium. Upon arriving the Poperinghe Area, the 117th was billeted in one of the numerous camps and were intergraded over the next month into actual battlefield operations and trench warfare conditions with active combat units. Phase “B” was completed on 10 August and Phase “C” the last training phase was cancelled and the 30th were declared combat ready. Operational orders came in on the 14th and the 30th Division was to relieve the British 33rd Division starting the night of 16 August in the Canal Sector near Ypres, Belgium. The Ypres-Lys Offensive began on 19 August 1918 and the 30th would be in the thick of the fighting to the very end of the war.
George and the 30th were given a breathing spell after being relieved from the Ypres-Lys Offensive on 5 September and were entrained to the St. Pol area and companies F, G & H of the 117th were billeted at Beauvois, France to resupply, do some more training and get a little rest from all the heavy artillery explosions. On the 17th the 30th Division made the move to the Puchevillers Area where they would come under the control of the 4th British Army on the 21st as would the American 27th Division to join in the Somme Offensive, also known as the One Hundred Day Offensive.
George came down with the Spanish Influenza and was taken to Camp Hospital #52 in Le Mans. He died of Broncho Pneumonia on 3 March 1919 just 15 days before Company F sailed home. George participated in two Unit Campaigns: Ypres-Lys Offensive in Belgium and the Somme Offensive in France. He also fought in the Battle of Bellicourt on the Hindenburg Line, the Battle of Montbrehain and the Battle of La Selle River. George was 29 years old and was first interred at the American Military Cemetery at Le Mans, Sarthe, France in Section F, Row 17, Grave 67. Afterwards he was moved to the American Military Cemetery at Bony, France and was moved a final time and reinterred at the Oak Hill Cemetery, Section L, Row 4, Grave 54 in Johnson City, Tennessee.
George is the son of James Knox Polk “Jake” Bowman and Harriett Annie “Hattie” Cross. He was married to Lottie Georgia Troxel and they had two daughters: Grace and Juanita.
— Submitted by Allen D. Jackson, USAF (Ret) Historian, Johnson City/Washington County TN Veterans Memorial Foundation