The Great War 1914-1918

The First World War started five days after Dr Bastard set off to Australia as ship's surgeon on the emigrant ship Otway on 31 July 1914. He was to return with his bride-to-be four months later and was appointed the Doctor for Bow in 1920. At the outbreak of War, Dr Arthur King was the village doctor.

The village responded to war being declared by making plans for the school building to be converted to a hospital. First aid training was given by the Red Cross. The villagers also offered to accomodate, for free, a Belgian refugee family for a year. Funds were raised to support the troops, school children were encouraged to supply eggs for convalescent soldiers, and work parties made sandbags for use on the front. Otherwise, life seemed to carry on much as before: the hunt continued to meet, and prices at Bow's monthly cattle market by the station were good.

The names of twelve servicemen from Bow who gave their lives during the First World War are inscribed on the memorial in the churchyard. The stories of the Phillips and the Holmes families are told here.

Lieutenant Fenton Ellis Stanley Phillips MC 1895 -1916

Fenton Phillips was the elder son of Rev Edward Stanley Phillips, who was Rector of Bow between 1912 and 1929. At the outbreak of the war, he was one of the first in Bow to sign up; he joined the Artists' Rifles, and was sent to France in May 1915 as a lieutenant. In May 1916 he joined No 3 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps as an observer. In September that year, shortly after his 21st birthday, he was awarded the Military Cross for "conspicuous bravery and skill":

"He has done fine contact patrol work. On one occasion he came down to a low altitude while making a report, and his machine was much damaged by rifle and machine-gun fire, but he carried on and successfully put our artillery on to the enemy, who were massing for counter-attack."


On 27th September 1916 the "Exeter and Plymouth Gazette" featured his award of the Military Cross. "Fenton was an accomplished musician, and his masterly performances on the organ, violin, and piano will be recalled by many in London and Devonshire. When enjoying brief rests abroad he employs his time organising concerts for his soldier friends, and has written and composed many songs, lyrical and comic, with which he regales his audiences. The following little song, composed by him in August last year, seems especially appropriate to recent events, and shows that, at that time, his thoughts and heart were with his brothers in the Air Service:"


This is the Song of the Aeroplane

As it mounts to the clouds on high,

    While her engine roars,

    Up above she soars,

A speck in the clear blue sky.

The breeze which rushes beneath her planes

Gives life to her slender frame;

    And she sings 'Ho! Ho!'

    Through the winds that blow

The Song of the Aeroplane!


I watch the clumsy Zeppelins come

Like silver clouds the sky,

    Their sides aglint

    With a steely tint

From the sun which rides on high.

Then up and up, like a bird of prey,

    I long to commence my game;

    And I sing 'Ho! Ho!'

As a bomb I throw –

And the ' Zep' is sheet of flame.

With wings white in the setting sun

I glide to the restful earth,

    And I still remain

    A victorious plane

Enclosed in my wooden berth.

Admired by all with my ceaseless drone,

As queen of the skies I reign;

    And I'll sing 'Ho! Ho!'

    Though the winds may blow

The Song of the Aeroplane.



Devon Regiment, France, August, 1915.

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