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The Bosworth Bench

Quiet memorial honors fallen Exonian and hero of World War II.

August 27, 2020

Principal William K. Rawson '71; P'08 and former Principal Kendra Stearns O'Donnell catch up while seated on the Bosworth Bench off Abbot Way.

Tucked behind Peabody Hall just off Abbot Way, perhaps most notable for its seclusion, rests a memorial to a fallen Exonian. A bronze plaque, greened over by time, offers the only clue about its origin:

 

Arthur Sewall Bosworth, Jr.
Lieut. J.G. U.S.N.R.
Exeter 1937

Who was Arthur Bosworth? And why was this monument built in his honor?

The answers can be found in The Exonian archives. Arthur S. Bosworth was a four-year Exeter student from Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He was the Waldo Holm Memorial Swimming Trophy winner after a record-setting senior season with the swim team and he captained and served as stroke on the four-man crew that spring. He was also on the Student Council and the track team and was a cheerleader.

Bosworth continued his swimming career at Harvard, and in 1941, during his final year there, he trained to fly airplanes as part of the Civil Air Patrol. He joined the U.S. Naval Reserve upon graduation and began training as a dive bomber as World War II engulfed the globe.

On April 22, 1944, while taking off from an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific, Bosworth’s plane was caught in a downdraft and plunged into the sea. He managed to escape the plane, rescue his navigator and reach a life raft, but he lost consciousness and later died.

The Exonian reported on April 11, 1945, a year after Bosworth’s death, that a memorial was to be erected behind Peabody Hall by his parents. “The monument is to be a semi-circular, cut-stone bench with a flagstone porch in front. Surrounding this will be a bed of lilacs, which were raised by Bosworth and his father.”

The lilacs were replaced long ago by a stand of star magnolias, but the bench remains in memoriam, 76 years after Bosworth’s death.

This story originally was published in the Spring 2018 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.