The Airmen's Stories - P/O A L Fowler
Alfred Lawrence Fowler was born at Foxton, New Zealand on 21st June 1918. He was educated at Foxton and Levin District High School and after leaving qualified as an electrician. From October 1937 he worked as a neon sign erector.
In June 1938 Fowler applied for an RAF short service commission, was provisionally accepted and sailed for the UK in the RMS Tainui on 1st February 1939.
Above (L to R): Sgt. WJ Garfield, P/O AL Fowler, P/O EH McHardy, P/O SR Gane, P/O HR Sharman, Sgt JH Round
Above image courtesy of Carole, daughter of F/O VA Ricketts of 248 Squadron
He began his elementary training at 10 E&RFTS Yatesbury on 16th March 1939. He went on to 5 FTS Sealand on 30th May for No. 40 Course. After bombing exercises at Aldergrove the course ended and Fowler joined 248 Squadron at Hendon on 6th November 1939. Originally in Fighter Command, the squadron went over to Coastal Command in February 1940.
On 15th May Fowler was detached from 248 to 235 Squadron at Bircham Newton, he was back with 248 by mid-September.
248 was seconded to Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. On 3rd October 1940 Fowler was on a North Sea patrol. He engaged a Do215. Although wounded in the hand, face and eyes, he pressed home his attacks until the enemy broke off the engagement. He then flew his badly damaged aircraft back to base. A radio message was picked up from the Dornier, reporting that it was returning to base, badly damaged and with members of its crew killed and injured.
For this action Fowler was awarded the DFC (gazetted 24th January 1941).
In June 1941 he was posted to 119 Squadron at Bowmore for Catalina training. In July he joined 413 (RCAF) Squadron at Stranraer, then forming to carry out general reconnaissance.
On 23rd August Fowler took off from Loch Ryan, on night-flying practice.
The Catalina, AH556, crashed a few seconds after take-off from the water. Fowler, F/O MAF Hirst, Ensign DA Eldred US Navy, AC1 PQ O’Brien and Sgt. PJN Coady were killed.
Sgt RBH Scroggs and AC Muir survived.
Fowler is buried in the Glebe Cemetery, Stranraer.
A subsequent Court of Enquiry found that the crash could have been caused by incorrect positioning of the elevator trimming tab control and recommended that illumination should be provided for night use. All Catalina units were so advised.