Unveiling of plaque in memory of Lieutenant Henry Bowers RN – Monday 12 November 2012

The unveiling of a plaque in memory of Lieutenant Henry Bowers RN, who as a youngster had lived at 19 Pathfield Road, was an opportunity for the Streatham Society and Lambeth Living to join forces in giving recognition to a distinguished name in our local history.  It was a fitting pay back to the community from Lambeth Living with their well founded sentiments expressed in an opening address by the Chair Keith Hill and the hard facts of the expedition explained by the well respected local historian John Brown.

The discovery of the bodies from Scott’s ill-fated attempt on the South Pole was made on this day in 1912 long after their death calculated to have been sometime in mid March.  The events and tragic end to their Polar journey are well recorded but what is not often referred to, is the unlikely relationship between Bowers and his well connected leader.  They were technically only a rank apart but their social standing and spheres of influence could not have been more different or distant.

The short stocky frame and beaky features of Bowers did not compare favourably with the elegant height and imposing looks of Captain Robert Falcon Scott who had married to advantage with his wife an admired beauty of the time and a most accomplished sculptress; but circumstances were to bridge a social divide that would have been unimaginable to both men prior to setting out for the South Pole.  They were eventually to be joined in a sense of sharing whatever depths of cruelty the elements were to expose.  They were to share an outward journey of extreme physical hardship that would end in their shared realisation of failure.  They were to share the death of their companions and the agony of knowing that the same fate would befall them as the ferocious blizzard raged and battered their forlorn little tent.  But what they didn’t know was that they would share their loyal courage and endurance with us in 2012 as we stood in the rain to salute a favourite son of Lambeth and marvel at the heroism of Lieutenant Henry Bowers RN.      

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