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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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31st December 1944 504 Squadron Spitfire HF.IX PT876 Fl/Lt. Fowler

Operation: Ramrod 1425

Date: 31st December 1944 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 504 Squadron (motto: Vindicat in Vetis - 'It avenges in the wind'). 11 Group

Type: Spitfire HF.IX

Serial: PT876

Code: TM-Z

Base: RAF Manston, Kent


Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Antony Coulson Fowler NZ/415439 RNZAF Age 21. Killed


Taking off at 13:25 hrs on a Ramrod operation escorting Lancasters to Vohwinkle near Solingen in the Ruhr, Germany.

His spitfire was seen to suddenly pull up steeply at 20,000 ft. and then roll over onto its back and fall away in a steep vertical spiral and break up just before crashing by the Westmeerbeek - Herselt Road. It was thought that as he had not attempted to bale out his oxygen supply may have malfunctioned.

L-R: Rear; Donald Maxwell Lang McKenzie NZ/414726 (killed 26th January 1943), WH Fry, David Ian Blackley NZ/415284 (killed 30th September 1944), LC Winter, John Antony Coulson Fowler NZ/415433 (killed 31st December 1944).
Centre; Noel James Andrew Helean NZ/414288, J Roach, Ian Sinclair Johnson NZ/415300 (killed 22nd January 1943) NE Roseman, GH Kerby.
Front; Alan James Craig NZ/415062 (killed 08th September 1942,) Gregory Francis Whitwell NZ/414709, FA Hayward, Harold Havelock Souter NZ/41551 (killed 13th February 1944).

Burial and personal details:

He was initially buried at the scene by army personnel but later reinterred at the churchyard in Herselt. In 1979 the churchyard was closed and so his remains were transferred to the Canadian War Cemetery.

Fl/Lt. John Antony Coulson Fowler. Adegem Canadian War Cemetery. VI. AB. 11. Born on the 04th January 1923 at Marton. An accountancy student and a member of the Home Guard prior to enlisting. Joined RNZAF at Levin on the 27th September 1941. Trained with No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School on the 08th November 1941, making his first solo flight on the 25th November 1941. Attached to No. 3 Service Flying Training School on the 20th December 1941. Pilots badge awarded on the 10th February 1942 and commissioned on the 04th April 1942. Embarked for England on the 13th April 1942.

Further training with No. 53 Operational Training Unit when he joined on the 01st September 1942 flying the Spitfire. Embarked for Gibraltar on the 26th November 1942. Flew a Dakota as 2nd pilot to Algiers on the 18th December 1942. Flew a Spitfire to Tunisia joining 111 squadron on the 19th December 1942, carrying out 62 operational sorties.

Shot down and wounded taken to hospital as a PoW after crash landing on the 22nd April 1943. After the fall of Tunisia to the allies he hitch hiked back to his squadron on the 09th May 1943. Flew as a passenger on a BOAC DC-3 to England on the 06th July 1943.Attached to 100 Operational Training Unit on the 17th August 1943 and then to 53 Operational Training Unit as an instructor on the 25th August 1943. Joined 504 squadron on the 12th April 1944. flying a further 76 operational sorties.

Son of William Coulson Fowler (died 17th January 1963, age 69) and of Agnes Faith Fowler (nee Netherclift - died 16th January 1959, age 60), brother of Sir Michael Fowler an architect, later Mayor of Wellington from 1974 - 1983. of Feilding, New Zealand. A total of 776 flying hours flogged. On his 138th operational sortie.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 30-08-2021

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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