Fowles, William John (No. 18/110)

Fowles, William John

Rifleman

No. 18/110, ‘D’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 21)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)

BIOGRAPHY

William John Fowles was born on 2 January 1895 in Montgomery Court, East Street, Newtownards and he was baptised in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.

William John Fowles lived at 78 East Street with his grandmother Ann Jane Fowles, his mother Lizzie Fowles and his brother, Robert (Bob) Fowles, who was born on 16 February 1899.

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War William John Fowles was a mill worker.  He enlisted in May 1915 and served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.  He went to France on 5 October 1915.

After the first day of the Battle of the Somme Rifleman William John Fowles was posted as missing in action and more than a year later, in August 1917, it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed on 1 July 1916.  He was 21 when he died and he has no known grave.

His grandmother, mother and brother placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the 18 August 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:

Dear son, it makes our hearts sore

To think in this life we shall meet you no more;

It was thy sad fate to be killed by the Huns,

Midst the splinter of shells and the roar of the guns.

Dear son of my bosom, you sleep ’mong the brave,

Where no tears of a mother can drop on thy grave;

In the red fields of France you are laid far away,

Still our tribute of love to thy memory we pay.

Although we regret that so early in life

It was thy misfortune to fall in the strife,

Yet it may give thy friends consolation to know

That you died in the field with your face to the foe.

But as long as we are allowed to remain here behind,

Dear son, we will always bear thee in mind;

The bugles may sound and the cannons may roar,

But you will be found in the conflict no more.

Rifleman William John Fowles is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).