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.
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,
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
DIED DEC. 10, 1918.
AGED 63 YEARS.
ALSO OF MY DEAR BROTHER
WHO LOST HIS LIFE ON THE
S.S. TITANIC APRIL 15, 1912
AGED 20 YEARS
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.