Herbert Leonard (Len) BAWDEN

Badge Number: S21942, Sub Branch: Pt Lincoln

BAWDEN, Herbert Leonard

Service Numbers: 181, A181
Enlisted: 2 February 1916
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
Born: Dry Creek, South Australia, 23 May 1889
Home Town: Aldgate, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Motor Mechanic
Died: South Australia, 4 March 1957, aged 67 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
General D
Memorials: Aldgate War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

2 Feb 1916: Enlisted
16 Mar 1916: Involvement 181, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '1' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: HMAT Orsova embarkation_ship_number: A67 public_note: ''
16 Mar 1916: Embarked 181, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, HMAT Orsova, Melbourne
11 Nov 1918: Involvement Corporal, A181

Help us honour Herbert Leonard Bawden's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.


Son of John BAWDEN and Elizabeth nee MARCH

Biography contributed by Amber Tiller

Herbert Leonard ‘Len’ Bawden was born on the 23rd of May 1889 in Dry Creek, South Australia. He was the third of nine children born to parents John Bawden (1862-1944) & Elizabeth March (1862-1925). His older brothers were; Theodore John (b. 1885) and Earnst Rupert Roy (b. 1887). His younger siblings were; Matilda (b. 1892), Ralph Mervyn (b.1895), Gertrude (b. 1897), George (b. 1897), Elizabth Myra (b. 1900) and Henry Mathew (b. 1904). He was known by all his friends and family as Len.

Physically Len was a tall and slender, being 6ft and 147 pounds. He had a fresh complexion with brown hair and brown eyes. His attestation documents from WW1 indicate his distinctive marks as; scars on the right knee and left wrist, a mole on the back of his neck and two vaccination scars on his left arm.

At the age of twenty-six and 8-months old Len joined the Australian Imperial Force. He enlisted into the Australian Flying Corps on the 3rd of February 1916, two years into World War I. On his enlistment papers it states that this was his first military service and that his occupation at the time was mechanical engineer. He specifically became a member of the No.1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps forty-two days later on the 16th of March when he embarked from Australia on HMAT Orsova in Melbourne, Victoria. The HMAT Orsova was a troopship that made the journey from Melbourne to Port Suez, Egypt, Africa from the 16th of March to the 14th of April 1916, this was the third journey to Suez that the ship had made. It is reported that during his service in Egypt, Len suffered from Malaria.

The Australian Flying Corps (AFC) no.1 Squadron was officially formed in January of 1916 at Point Cook in Victoria. The less experienced members of the squadron were initially sent to England for further training, the others joined with the Royal Flying Corps in Egypt to perfect their skills. In June 1916 the squadron official started its air-borne operations and acted independently from dispersed airfields.  The main role of the squadron was to under-go reconnaissance and later attack missions specifically in the Sinai Desert (searching for Turkish forces) and the western deserts of Egypt (monitoring the Senussi – a politically religious Muslim group).

The squadron went on to advance into and complete operations in Palestine with the British and Dominion Forces. Here the squadron performed ground attacks, photography, reconnaissance & liaison missions. Overtime and with the addition of new aircrafts in 1917, German & Turkish forces could be controlled and later defeated. Their most integral and final offensive attack was the Battle of Megiddo in September of 1918. This was the last battle in the Sinai and Palestinian campaign of WWI. The British Commander in Chief, General Sir Edmund Allenby after armistice stated that the squadron;

‘…played an important role in making this achievable. You gained absolute supremacy of the air, thereby enabling my cavalry, artillery & infantry to carry out their work on the ground practically unmolested by hostile aircraft. This was undoubtedly was a factor of paramount importance in the success of arms here’.

Len remained as a member of the Australian Defence Force until 11th of November 1918 when WWI ended, he held the rank of Corporal and was an air mechanic 1st Class. He returned to Australia on the 18th of February 1919 aboard the ‘Demosthenes’. He was officially discharged on the 13th of April 1919 and his service number during his career was 181. Herbert’s name is listed on the Aldgate War Memorial for those who had volunteered for active service from the surrounding areas during the wars of the nation.

Upon arriving back in Australia in 1919, Len married Agnes Loueen Davis in Victoria, Australia. He was thirty years old and Agnes was twenty-one. Len disembarked in Melbourne after the war, so we can assume the marriage happened quite quickly after his arrival. After which the couple relocated back to South Australia.

Together Len & Agnes has two children, a daughter Loueen Jean (b.1920) & a son Leonard Chauvel (b. 1925).

The first mention of the family post war is in 1921, when Len is listed in the Police Gazette as G.D. Wilson attempted to break into and steal from Herbert’s warehouse which was trading as Bawden & Wadham in Adelaide. Wilson was caught and committed by Sergt. Simmons. 

Australian electoral rolls indicate that by 1939 Herbert & Agnes were living in Naracoorte with their family. It lists Herbert as a motor engineer and Agnes as a homemaker. Four years later in 1943 it states that the Bawden’s were later living in Lewis Street, Port Lincoln where Herbert was working as a salesman.

Len & Agnes’ granddaughter Jenifer described Len as a lovely man whom all the grandkids were always excited to see. They wouldn’t see him for long periods of time due to him living further done south in Adelaide, but when he would visit it would be for a whole week. It would take Len and Agnes twelve hours in their old-fashioned rover to travel and visit their daughter Loueen and her children. When staying with the family, Len would put all the grandkids to bed and play the tin whistle. He would gather them and say “Bed time, off you go, ill come and play, I’ll come and play and we’ll have a sing song”. Jen described her grandmother Agnes as just nice and lovely woman.

Len passed away on the 4th of March 1957 at the age of sixty-seven. He is buried in Centennial Park Cemetery in Pasadena, Mitchem City, South Australia. Jen was at boarding school her mother called and told of her grandfather’s death and she was heartbroken. She did not attend school that day. Agnes passed away eight years later in 1965 at the age of sixty-seven and was buried with her husband.

Written by A.A.J Tiller (2nd Great Grand-daughter of Len and Agnes)