LEST WE FORGET
Flight Lieutenant Harry John FOWLER
Service No: 415636
Born: Perth WA, 10 September 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 7 December 1941
Unit: No. 100 Squadron, Tadji New Guinea
Died: Air Operations: (No. 100 Squadron Beaufort aircraft A9-650), Milak, New Guinea, 13 March 1945, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Lae War Cemetery, PNG
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Harry and Viria Hammond Fowler, of Cottesloe, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 104, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Remembered: Honour Avenues, Kings Park WA
On 13th March a Beaufort of No. 100 Squadron (captained by Flight Lieutenant Fowler) exploded in mid-air over a target at Maprik West, killing the entire crew. Six Beauforts led by Wing Commander Conaghan, commanding officer of No. 100 Squadron, were in the strike and Fowler’s aircraft was seen to explode as it released its bombs. Three days later Conaghan led six more Beauforts on a strike and another aircraft, captained by Squadron Leader Philip Alexander Dey (402853), blew up in similar circumstances over the target.
Extract from Odgers, G. (George) Air War Against Japan 1943-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957 – Page 342
At each point the army was close enough to indicate the target by mortar. No. 100 Squadron followed in immediately on Maprik West where the target was again mortared by our land forces. It was here we lost another of our old crews. Flight Lieutenant Jack Fowler, Flying Officers Geoff.
Waite, navigator, both West Australians; Frank Smith and Jack Shipman, went in on their 94th strike in Aitape operations, and 30 days off the completion of their tour. Also the Wing lost Major Ralph Hopkins (sic), air liaison officer of the army, who was with the crew. The major had often flown on bombing strikes. Flying Officer Waite, whose father was with the first AIF at Gallipoli, saw the early part of the New Guinea war from the navigator’s seat of a Hudson bomber and was mentioned in despatches. Fowler had been a hard working pilot throughout the several big engagements that fell to No. 100 Squadron in the earlier part of the Aitape campaign.
Extract from Graham, B. (Burton) and Frank Smyth, A Nation Grew Wings: The Story of the RAAF Beaufort Squadrons in New Guinea, Winterset House Publishers Melbourne VIC, 1946 – Pages 233-4
The crew members of A9-650 were:
Flight Lieutenant Harry John Fowler (415636) (Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant John William Shipman (422085) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Francis Owen Smith (422062) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Arthur Geoffrey Waite MID (406817) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9845, 264
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Beaufort, Beaufighter and Mosquito in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1990