Battle Bus in Peronne

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Today the Battle Bus reaches its penultimate destination of Peronne, a small town situated on a hill side overlooking the battle fields of the Somme, where more than a million men were wounded or killed in 1916.

citadel barracks arras
Battle Bus leaving the Citadel Barracks in Arras, France
Battle Bus in the Somme, September 2014
Battle Bus in the Somme, September 2014

The Musee de la Grande Guerre occupies the Chateaux de Peronne in the centre of the town. It tells the story of the men and women who lived through the conflict and suffering of the First World War. The return of the Battle Bus brings one small aspect of that story back into focus, helping us to imagine what we did not see. The 51st Army Service Corps bus company served at the battle of Peronne in 1918; as part of the Allied advance that halted the German offensive and moved the conflict closer to the Armistice.

Phillip Sydney Bowden, 1918
Phillip Sydney Bowden, 1918

In 1920 the first Remembrance Service was held at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. London General Omnibus employee Philip Sydney Bowden was chosen to lay a wreath on behalf of London’s transport workers. He had volunteered for the army at the age of 17, fought at the Battle of the Somme and been wounded in a gas attack. Philip Bowden was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery for carrying a wounded comrade to safety under enemy fire. His daughter Jean recalled that like many men of his generation ‘he never spoke much about the war’.

Auxiliary Omnibus Companies' Association medallion
Auxiliary Omnibus Companies’ Association medallion

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The story of London’s busmen at the front is also told in our new book by Dr William Ward, Ole Bill – Londons Buses and the First World War.

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