Encyclopedia Titanica

David John 'Dai' Bowen

David John 'Dai' Bowen
David John 'Dai' Bowen

Mr David "Dai" John Bowen was born on Baglan Street in Treherbert, Glamorgan, Wales on 30 July 1891.

He was the son of James Bowen (b. circa 1841) and Leah Protheroe1 (b. 1855) who were married in 1873 and he had seven known siblings: Martha (b. 1876), Elizabeth (b. 1877), James Prothero (1879-1954), Mary (b. 1882), Leah (b. 1885), Margaret (b. 1888) and Stephen (1894-1966).

In the months prior to David's birth his family are listed on the 1891 census living at 35 Bagnall Street, Treherbert. By the time of the 1901 census when David was shown, he was still living with his family, now at 36 Baglan Street, his mother now a widower. What became of his father is not entirely certain but he appears to have died around 1897. His maternal uncle John Protheroe (b. 1858), a publican, was shown on the same census at an adjacent address, the Royal Oak Hotel.

His mother Leah was remarried in 1902 to Morris Owen (1879-1935), a coal miner originally from Anglesey, and the family were shown on the 1911 census living at 42 Bagnall Street, Treherbert and David was described as an unmarried coal miner hewer.

David was also a professional boxer under the tutelage of George Cundick and was the Welsh lightweight champion, taking part in numerous fights on the boxing circuit in Pontypridd, Hartlepool and South Shields. His last match was on 5 March 1912 in Cardiff. He was travelling to the USA under contract for a series of boxing contests and was accompanied by fellow Welshman and boxer Leslie Williams. His ring weight was described as a few pounds heavier than Leslie Williams' 122 lbs and he was regarded as a promising fighter.

Dai Bowen
Dai Bowen

He and Williams booked passage through the Cardiff office of Dean and Dawson, tourist and steamship agents, 67 St. Mary's Street, Cardiff (ticket number 54636 which cost £16, 2s). Originally supposed to have travelled aboard Baltic,2 they changed plans in order to receive new suits they were having tailored and eventually boarded the Titanic at Southampton as third-class passengers.

Bowen wrote a letter to his mother dated 11 April 1912 and posted in Queenstown; it reads:

April 11th 1912
My Dear Mother

            I am just writing you a few lines before I go sick for I have been very good so far. This is a lovely boat, she is very near so big as Treherbert, she is like a floating palace, against you walk from one end of her to the other you are tired. We are landing in France the time I am writing you this, you don’t know whether she is moving or not for she goes very steady. Dear Mother, I hope that you won’t worry yourself about me, I can tell you that I am a lot better than I thought I would be, for we gets plenty of fun on board. We met two Swansea boys at the station, so you see that I get plenty of company. There is hundreds of foreigners on her of every nation. The food we get here is very good but not so good as dear old home. We have no boxing gloves with us, they would be no good if we did have some. Remember me to Martha Jane and Jack and Tommy Ostler, tell Morris and Stephen that if I will feel like I do now when I land in Yankee Land I shall be alright. I shan’t give you no address now, not until I land for it won’t be worth. I did not see David Rees in Southampton at all. Remember me to all I know, tell Stephen to tell all the boys that I am enjoying myself alright so far. If James tell you that I have not wrote to him, tell him that I can’t do it very good now, you can show him this if you like, for it will be the same I shall have to say now for the time being as I am telling you. I hope you will excuse the pencil for I have no pen and ink, so cheer up now mother, for I am in the pink, so don’t vex. I think I will draw to a close now in wishing you all my best love.

From your loving son,

David John

Bowen died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

His mother died on 10 December 1918 and David is commemorated on a headstone in Treorchy Cemetery belonging to his mother and younger brother Stephen who died 10 October 1966:

In Memory of
MY DEAR MOTHER
LEAH OWEN
DIED DEC. 10, 1918.
AGED 63 YEARS.
ALSO OF MY DEAR BROTHER
DAVID JOHN
BOWEN
WHO LOST HIS LIFE ON THE
S.S. TITANIC APRIL 15, 1912
AGED 20 YEARS
"AT REST"

His sister was posting In Memoriam notes in local papers as late as 1939.

BOWEN.—Cherished Memories of David John Bowen (Treherbert), lost in Titanic April 15th, 1912.—Never forgotten.—Sister Margaret, Ty-llwyd, Treorchy. — Western Mail - 15 April 1933, 1937, 1939 etc.

Dai Bowen
Courtesy of Martin Bell, UK

 

In Memoriam
In Memoriam Card
(Courtesy of Henry Aldridge & Son)

Notes

  1. Spelling alternates between Protheroe and Prothero, depending on record.
  2. Some newspaper sources say it was the Lusitania, to sail on the 6th. Yet another gives the vessel as the Lucania.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr David John 'Dai' Bowen
Age: 20 years 8 months and 16 days (Male)
Nationality: Welsh
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: in Treherbert, Glamorgan, Wales
Occupation: Pugilist
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 54636, £16 2s
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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References and Sources

South Wales Daily News, 17 April 1912, p.12
South Wales Daily News, 10 May 1912, p.5
South Wales Echo, 15th April 1912, p.3
Mrs N. Jones (Great Niece of Dai Bowen)

Newspaper Articles

Chas A. Barnett Boxing (6 April 1912) Two Trippers to America.
Leslie and Dai ought to do well.
Chas A. Barnett Boxing (13 April 1912) Off to Uncle Sam's Land
Williams and Bowen on their way to America.
Belfast Newsletter (16 April 1912) WELSH PUGILISTS ON BOARD
Freddie Welsh’s sparring partners
Chicago Inter Ocean (19 April 1912) PUGILIST DIES ON TITANIC [David Bowen]
Lightweight Champion of Wales Is Reported Drowned
Chicago Examiner (20 April 1912) 2 BOXERS DIE ON TITANIC
Professional boxers lost their lives when the Titanic foundered. 
Chas A. Barnett Boxing (27 April 1912) The Tragedy of the Deep
Benefit Proposed

Images

Rhondda Leader (1912) Dai Bowen
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Comment and discuss

  1. Barbara Henry said:

    I've been looking for information concerning Welsh connections to the Titanic. Am seeking info on Halifax burial of Leslie Williams a native of Wales. He and his friend, David Bowen, were on their way to America to become prize fighters. They both went down with the Titanic. Anyone with gravestone number for Leslie Williams at Fairview Cemetery, Halifax NS please contact me. Enjoy all the Titanic sites like this one and for opportunity to input. I will have more to post later on serveral Titanic passengers whose stories I have uncovered. Barbara Henry Perry, New York

  2. Geoffrey Moseley said:

    Mr Leslie Williams, a Third Class Passenger was my maternal grandmother's first husband. I was really pleased to see some comment about Mr Leslie Williams and would like to see his actual date of birth recorded. He was 24 when he died, not 28 as stated. I will endeavour to obtain his actual date of birth so this can be recorded. Mr Williams 4 grandchildren from his son (also called Leslie) are my first cousins. If Leslie Williams had not died when Titanic sank, I would not be here now. Geoffrey Moseley Tonypandy, Wales

  3. Lowri baber said:

    Tudalen gwych. Er cof am y rhai wnath farw. Er cof y pobl Cymraeg. Lowri Rhiannydd Baber, Porth, Rhondda, South Wales

  4. Rhiannydd said:

    Er cof am Leslie Williams a David Bowen. Tonypandy a Treherbert, South Wales

  5. avatar

    Inger Sheil said:

    Now that's what I like to see on the ET site - Cymraeg! I had a couple of articles in the Welsh newspapers a few months ago regarding my work on Harold Lowe (who was born in North Wales, raised in Barmouth, went to sea first in Welsh schooners and who spoke Welsh fluently), and was contacted by a man who has been doing some intensive research on the lives of the passengers mentioned above, Williams and Bowen. I don't know if he plans to publish his work, but I certainly hope he does. ~ Inger

  6. Lisa Moseley said:

    I really enjoyed looking at Leslie Williams's document as he was my fathers cousins grandfather.

  7. Lisa Joanne Moseley said:

    Re: Hi, I'm Lisa Moseley. My father was his wife, lily's, second husbands childs, childs child i think. I'd just like 2 see if you knew anymore about him. If you do could u please send me some information on him. Thankyou very much.

  8. avatar

    Chrissie Brown said:

    I am a distant relative of David John Bowen who died on the Titanic. I believe that David was born in Treherbert c.1886 and was the niece of my great-grandmother May Bowen. May married David Rees and lived in the Glyncorrwg valley outside Neath, and then moved to Llanelly. I am a great grand-daughter of May Bowen and granddaughter of May's daughter Phyllis Rees. I am trying to gather information on the Bowen family in Treherbert, and discover his parents and siblings. If there are any other relatives out there, I would love to hear from you. Also if anyone has any more information on... Read full post

  9. Bernard Leslie Jones said:

    Re: My grandfather told a family story that his father was a friend of Leslie Williams. Mr Williams asked my great grandfather to name his first born son after him shortly before he departed for America. He did as asked, and my grandfather was born on 4 July 1913. His given name was William Leslie Williams. I don't think my grandfather and Mr Williams were related; they merely shared a common Welsh surname. A final postscript to this story is that my parents named me after my Granddad. My middle name is Leslie

  10. avatar

    Chrissie Brown said:

    An interview with the author Clive Joseph on BBC Wales radio on Easter Saturday about the boxers Dai Bowen and Les Williams

  11. avatar

    Chrissie Brown said:

    Clive mentions that David John Bowen was a feather weight boxer. Was he the Welsh champion? I know that he wasn't married (as some sites assume) as condolences were sent to his mother (not to a widow). If anyone is related to him, please get in touch. I'm trying to expand his family tree. He was my grandmother (Leah Rees)'s uncle.

  12. Bob Godfrey said:

    Hallo, Chrissie. If you haven't seen them already, check out the ET biographical entries here:

  13. avatar

    Chrissie Brown said:

    This report is incorrect, in that Dai Bowen was not married.Only his fellow boxer Williams was married.

  14. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    at all but fate placed him there instead of someone else. I corresponded with Welsh Boxing site and various Welsh media outlets and received a detailed reply from Gareth Jones,... Read full post

  15. avatar

    Steven Christian said:

    Hi Arun. Have you run across this yet?

  16. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    No, I had not seen it! Thank you Steve. Sounds VERY interesting. I am going to by the 'proper' book, even if it means waiting till getting back to the UK. Being of the old school, an e-book just does not feel 'right'.

  17. avatar

    Steven Christian said:

    Yes I know what you mean. I have the same problem with audio books. When I read books I often read a paragraph 2 or 3 times before moving on.

  18. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    Just checked. Only the Kindle edition is available in India whereas the paperback is easily available in the UK :mad: Was there a hardcover edition?

  19. avatar

    Steven Christian said:

    I don't think so. But not sure. That book looks like it was just published recently. And some of those small publishers don't do hardbacks. At least not many that I've noticed.

  20. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    since it was the only version available in India. Well written and interesting but Brian Duncan only makes a passing mention of the Jimmy Wilde angle. I have messaged the author about it as well as the gym use; in the book, Duncan also does not believe that the boys could have had that facility. Apart from the £16 cost for each of their tickets (very high for a single Third Class passage), David Bowen reportedly promised Charlie Barnett that they would make good use of the gym on board... Read full post

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Martin Bell
Chrissie Brown
Dave Gittins, Australia
David Huxtable, UK
Sian Prescott
Karan Price (Granddaughter of George Cundick)

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2021) David John 'Dai' Bowen (ref: #691, last updated: 27th April 2021, accessed 26th October 2021 21:04:58 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/david-john-dai-bowen.html