FOWLER, Alfred Charles Garrett

Second Lieutenant, Alfred Charles Garrett FOWLER
Aged 19

215 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Killed in Action on Saturday, 21st September 1918

Alfred Charles Garrett FOWLER was born on 17th June 1899 in Hitchin (Hitchin Q3-1899 3A:637) son of Alfred and Fanny FOWLER (née WALKER).

1901 census...Aged 1, he was at The Workhouse, Union Road, Hitchin with his father Alfred FOWLER [49], Master of local workhouse, born Faversham, Kent; his mother Fanny [40] Matron, born Hitchin; sisters Constance [10] and Christabel Ann [4]; brother Bernard Philip [7]. All the children were born in Hitchin.

1911 census...Aged 11, he was at 23 Chiltern Road, Hitchin with his parents (father now an estate agent); sister Constance and brother Bernard (insurance clerk).

Educated at Hitchin Grammar School [1907-1913], then East Anglian School, Bury St. Edmunds where he featured in a local press article in 1916 describing academic achievements.
His father died in Hitchin in 1912 and his mother died in Hitchin in 1913. It seems likely that on the death of both of his parents his sister Constance,(who had married a Methodist preacher Arthur Percy BOURNE) removed him from Hitchin and sent him to the East Anglian School His will gave administration to his sister Constance Bourne, and his place of death as near Metz, in Germany. His sister's address was on the International Red Cross card as The Manse, Fairfield, Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire.

Thanks to his great-niece Anne Gillat we have this article from The Polytechnic Magazine (Regent Street Polytechnic) of March 1920:-
Lieut. A.C E. Fowler. On February 5th there arrived a postal packet, addressed to Major Mitchell, the Director of Education, from a German, who stated that he had received it from a German soldier and forwarded it in the hope that it might be possible to get in touch with the relations of Lieut. Fowler.
The packet contained a pocket-book, some letters, photograph, a certificate of the Poly Classes in Engineering, as well as a Pilot's Certificate in the Flying Corps.
Lieut. Fowler belonged to the R.A.F., and was killed near Metz at the end of the war. The German soldier stated: "Lieut.Fowler was sent to bombard Metz. I was standing at my post when I saw him landing. At the same moment I heard a fearful explosion, and when I was able to get near I found him dead under his aeroplane.
Fowler was a student in the Electrical Engineering School in 1916-1917."

215 Squadron was formed at Coudekerque, near Dunkirk, on 10th March 1918, as No. 15 Squadron, RNAS, and on 1st April 1918, became No. 215 Squadron, RAF. It was a heavy-bomber unit and was equipped with Handley Page twin-engined bombers, initially O/100s. By July 1918 they had received Handley Page O.400s. There was no official squadron badge until 1937.

The RAF have his home address as "Lyndon" Totlington, Bury, Lancs., initially with his sister, Mrs C.Bourne to be informed of casualties, this was changed to Miss B.S.Fowler at "Wintercott". Knebworth.
His records show he was before enlistment at the Polytechnic, Regent Street, W1 as a second year Engineering (Electrical) Student from August 1916 to April 1917.
Enlisting at Greenwich on 28th October 1917, he then proceeded for instruction to Manston on 8th December 1917 and then on 30th March, preparatory to joining the RAF, he went to Cranwell.

He trained as a W/T operator (Wireless/Telegraph) in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve before joining the Royal Naval Air Service at Crystal Palace. He flew in Farmans, Avros and BE2 C.
Originally at RAF Cranwell, on 1st April 1918 he was Probationary 2nd Lieutenant. He then went to 213 Squadron on 7th July 1918 before moving to 215 Squadron. He is on the list of Probationary Flight Officers of the Royal Flying Corps Naval Wing (Royal Navy Air Service) on 28th October 1917. Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant 1st May 1918 in the Royal Air Force.

Alfred, the pilot, was listed as missing on Handley Page O/400 C9732 along with 2nd Lt John Shannon FERGUSON (observer) and 2nd Lt Clement Clough EAVES. Reported as shot down in flames over Lotheringen, near Metz, on a raid to Frescaty Aerodrome. It is also recorded that all were killed, and buried at Metz. Since they are all named on the Arras memorial it seems their graves were later lost. It was also noted Alfred had been recommended and accepted for a gallantry award just 4 days earlier, but it appears his death intervened. .


Int.Red Cross card

Alfred Fowler is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services memorial, Faubourg d'Amiens, Arras
and on Hitchin and Hitchin Grammar School war memorials.

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details