Arthur Fowler

34221 Private Arthur Joseph Fowler, Suffolk Regiment,
(transferred to)
20776, 5th Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry

Born in 1879 in Upper Ward’s Combe, Ivinghoe
Killed in Action 22nd August 1917 in Belgium

Family and Home 1, 2, 3

Arthur was born in Upper Ward’s Combe, Ivinghoe, the youngest child of John Fowler and Susan née Rickard. He was baptised at St Mary the Virgin, Edlesborough on 27th July 1879. Arthur had four elder sisters: Edna Ann, b. 1864, Mary, b. 1866, Martha b. 1868 and Ruth b. 1875. In the 1881 Census his family lived at Wards, Ivinghoe; his father was an Agricultural Labourer. By 21st May 1883, they had moved to 10 Ringshall, which was then numbered 26 Ringshall.

Education 3

Arthur started at Little Gaddesden School on 21st May 1883, close to his fourth birthday. On 21st April 1890, he received his Certificate of Proficiency, which enabled him to leave school and go to work. On 5th May, the Log Book recorded that: “for more than a month (11) boys have had regular employment on the Home Farm and it is more than likely that this will be continued for an indefinite time as the summer advances. Such being the case, their names will be removed from the Registers.” Arthur, aged about 11, was one of the boys named. As was common at the time, he then returned to school between periods of work. He was back at school for a month from 2nd June and for another month from 29th September 1890.

Employment 3, 4, 5, 6

Arthur left school permanently on 27th October 1890 “having obtained employment on the Farm”. In the 1891 Census he was a 12 year old Farm Labourer living at home with his parents. By 1901, aged 21 and still living with his parents, he was a Labourer in the Ashridge Estate Timber Yard. In 1911 he was a Wood Sawyer there.

Marriage and Child 6, 7, 8

In 1909 Arthur married Priscilla Holloway from Stone near Aylesbury. They lived at 10 Ringshall and their daughter Kate was born on 30th July 1911.

Military Service 9

Arthur enlisted in Berkhamsted while living in Ringshall. He served initially in the Suffolk Regiment before being transferred to the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.

Death in Belgium 10, 11

On 22nd August 1917, 38 year old Private Arthur Joseph Fowler, 5th Batttalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was killed in action during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele). Although his “Register of Soldiers’ Effects” entry states that he was killed in France, that does not fit with the action or his initial place of burial.

Burial in Belgium 10

Arthur was initially buried near Westhoek, about 5km East of Ypres at British Army Trench Map reference 28.J.7.d.80.30.

1:40,000 scale trench map snippet
Extract from 1:40,000 scale British Army Trench Map Sheet 28 showing in square J7 Arthur Fowler’s original burial place. Map credit: TNA/IWM/Great War Digital.

Here is the same location today, in the centre of this interactive Google map:

He was subsequently re-buried in the New Irish Farm Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, having been identified by his disc. His grave reference number is XXXI. A. 15.

Photo of Arthur Fowler's grave
Photo courtesy of David Heard

Beneath the badge of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, the inscription on his headstone reads:

20776 Private
A. J. Fowler
King’s Shropshire L.I.
22nd August 1917 Age 38

Beneath the cross are the words

Peace perfect peace

His Family leave Little Gaddesden 3

On June 26th 1918 an entry in the Little Gaddesden School Logbook stated that “Kate Fowler has removed to Stone. I have therefore taken her name off the books.” Kate and her widowed mother had left Ringshall and returned to her mother’s home village. Arthur’s CWGC Grave Registration Report, compiled in the 1920s, noted that he was the “Husband of Priscilla Fowler, of Oxford Rd., Stone, Aylesbury, Bucks.”

We will remember them 12

Arthur Fowler is commemorated on the War Memorials on the village green and in St Peter & St Paul’s Church Little Gaddesden. He is also named on the Roll of Honour in the church.

He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.

References

1. https://www.findmypast.co.uk England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions

2. https://www.findmypast.co.uk 1881 England, Wales & Scotland Census

3. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1872 – 1886, 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934

4. https://www.findmypast.co.uk 1891 England, Wales & Scotland Census

5. https://www.findmypast.co.uk 1901 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcription

6. https://www.findmypast.co.uk  1911 Census for England & Wales

7. https://www.ancestry.co.uk England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915

8. https://www.findmypast.co.uk England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007

9. https://www.ancestry.co.uk UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919

10. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/452326/fowler,-arthur-joseph/

11. https://www.ancestry.co.uk  UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929

12. https://www.ancestry.co.uk  British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920

Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson