(1857 - 1943)
| I have now to undertake perhaps
the most difficult part of my task, my autobiography. It is hard to decide
what to record and what to leave out. I think hare facts are all that are
necessary. As stated before, I was born on the 26th October, 1857, at Thanet
house, Margate, and though I am always proud to know that Essex is my county,
I am in some measure a "man of Kent.'' I was baptised at the parish church
of Ashford, in Kent, my dear mother's sister, Mary Greenhill, being my
godmother, and her husband, George, and his father, Richard Greenhill,
all of Ashford, being my godfathers.
I remained at home at Yelvertoft, in Northamptonshire, for about a year, 1873-4, and on the 4th November, 1874, was gazetted sub-lieutenant of the 2nd Warwickshire militia, which then trained at Leamington, and in which I remained three very happy years. My friend was Sir Peyton Skipworth, bart., and of the others, good fellows all, perhaps the best known to the world is Harry de Windt, the great traveller.
On the 15th August, 1877, I was gazetted to the 88th Connaught Rangers, and sailed in the Donald Currie mail steamer "Walmer Castle" for Cape Town to join them. Within three weeks we were off to the front for the Kaffir war of 1877-8. I, with others, proceeded to East London in the little coasting steamer "Florence," with H.M.S. "Active," the flagship of the station, doing convoy. We landed at East London in surf boats, there was no harbour in those days and a big bar to cross, and we went up country through King Williams Town, Komgah, through the Chichaba bush to Ibeka and borders of Pondoland. We had plenty of skirmishes and a bit of sickness, but nothing very serious. Major Garratt Moore won the V.C. at Draibosch for attempting to save the life of a Cape policeman, Colonel Lambert got a C.B., Colonel (afterwards Lieutenant-General) Sir Edward Hopton and Major Owen, now a "gentleman-at-arms," received Brevet Lieutenant-Colonelcies, and Captain Kell promotion into the South Staffordshires, for training and fighting the band with seven-pounder guns. I went through the war with "A" company; Captain Sir George Larpent, bart., commanding the company. We returned to Cape Town in the Donald Currie "Lapland," through a real Cape storm in July, 1878.
On about the 9th August, 1878, after a few days in Cape Town, I sailed for St. Helena in the Union Company's mail steamer "Anglian," - Captain Manning - which vessel was afterwards wrecked and lost. At St. Helena I met my dear wife, and after six happy months there, I sailed in H.M.S. "Shah "- Captain (afterwards Admiral) R. Bradshaw, C.B. - which was on her way home from the Pacific, but turned back on the receipt of the news of the serious defeat at Isandhlwana to help our people in Zululand. Five companies only of the Rangers were there, three being at Mauritius. We had a deal of hard work but no fighting, having the misfortune to be in Crealock's division at Tugela. We went on to Fort Chelmsford, where I was Fort Adjutant for a short time, Eshowe and Fort Dumford, where I contracted typhoid fever, and was sent down to hospital in Durban, only rejoining the Rangers in August, 1879, at Pinetown, in time to accompany them to Cape Town, where we were sent to re-fit prior to sailing for India from Simonstown in H.M.S. "Crocodile," on 1st October. While in Zululand I was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 17th May, 1879. I went through the campaign in " F" company - Captain F. Baldwin.
On arrival in India, we were sent to Mooltan, where I remained about three months, afterwards being sent to Umballa for a Garrison class. Having had a difference of opinion with Colonel Lambert on the subject of matrimony, for he said he would not allow married subalterns in the regiment, I applied for, and was appointed to the Indian Staff Corps, and at the end of my course, having passed my examination, I went to join the 4th Punjab Infantry, Punjab Frontier Force, at Bannu. There I had fever so badly that I was told if I did not leave the frontier soon I should he buried there, so with great regret I applied for a down country regiment, and in April, 1881, left that splendid force and joined the 5th Light Infantry at Jhansi. I shall always feel proud that I was once a "Piffer."
My dear wife, after staying with my people in England, arrived at Calcutta, where I met her, on 2nd June 1881, She came out in the British Indian ship "Manora " - Captain Cousins. We drove straight to St. John's church, where we were married by the Rev. W. H. Bray. We stayed with the Thomas Greenhills in Dhurrumtolla, Calcutta, and then went to Jhansi.. How the river Chumble was in flood and the dak gharrie drawn by camels could not cross, so that we went over by boat, and I took my wife home in a bile-hackery, I shall never forget.
After a year in Jhansi with the 5th Light Infantry, I got four months leave to study Hindustani, and in June, 1882, we went to Murree and stayed with our brother-in-law, Major (since Colonel) C. H. Scott Kennedy, of the 99th, the husband of my wife's eldest sister, Myra. In the October of the same year, I passed the Higher Standard, and Colonel Lambert having left the Rangers, I resigned my Staff Corps appointment and returned to my old regiment. We rejoined at Mooltan, and in January, 1883, my wife returned to her sister in Rawalpindi, while I marched with the regiment to Sharjahanpur, a 733 miles walk. It was a delightful journey, with much good shooting, and I was lucky enough to get the largest black buck (20 inch horn). My wife joined me at Shahjahanpur, where we stayed a year, living in the bungalow on the parade ground, opposite the guard room. My eldest son, Charles Edward Fowler, was born here on the 27th May, 1883, and was baptised in the historic church, where, in 1857, the garrison were caught unarmed while at service, by the mutineers, and died fighting to the last. In March, 1884, we marched to Chaubuttia (7,000 feet), 1,000 feet above Ranikhet, where we lived in a small hut, and my daughter, Gladys Jane Fowler, was born on the 13th August, 1884, and was baptised there. At the end of the summer, the regiment marched to Bareilly, and on to their new quarters at Jullundur, I going on in advance by rail with my company and the women and children of the regiment.
We felt it necessary, for the sake of the children, to get home to England, so I applied for a five years' appointment in the Commissariat and Transport Staff. I was promoted Captain in the regiment 1st February, 1885, and sailed for home in H.M.S. "Serapis" on 1st April, from Bombay, and was Adjutant on board, Captain Maurice Moore, who afterwards commanded the regiment in South Africa, being in command of the troops.
After six months' Supply and Transport course at Aldershot, under Major (since Colonel) F. Stevens, I was ordered to Cork, Ireland, where we remained for three years, and where, on 29th December, 1887, my second son, Hugh Edmund Fowler, was born, at Roseneath Villa, on the Barrack hill, and was baptised by Archdeacon Archdale at St. Luke's church.
In September, 1888, we moved to Colchester, where we lived at Endsleigh house, Butt road, one year. I was then offered active service in Egypt, but was stopped within twenty-four hours of embarkation, as the battle of Toski had been fought, and the war over, and so was ordered to Athlone instead. We were there six weeks and I was then ordered to London, in October, 1889, to take command of No. 29 Company, Army Service Corps, at Chelsea Barracks. While in London, we lived at 12, Queen Ann's terrace, Albert road, Battersea. I should have mentioned that in 1889 the Army Service Corps was formed, and, owing to the increasing family, I thought it better to join it, and was accordingly transferred from the Rangers in the Gazette of 6th August, 1889. From London I was ordered to Gibraltar, for which I sailed at the beginning of September, 1891, the family joining me in the December. In March, 1892,1 was appointed to the staff at Malta as D.A.A.G., whither we proceeded.
We were three years in Malta, living in Strada Ponente, my generals being Sir Henry Smyth and Sir Arthur Lyon Fremantle; my chief staff officers were Colonel Bayly, C.B., and Colonel (now Lieut.-Colonel) Sir A. S. Wynne, K.C.B. I worked with Colonel E. Hughes, C.B., G.C.M., A.A.G., of my own Corps, who taught me most of what little I know of Staff work.
In March, 1895, we came home on the expiration of my Staff appointment, and I was ordered to Edinburgh to command the Corps in Scotland. Here our third son, Breame Ramsay Fowler, was born. We lived at 20, Thirstane road, in Morningside. In January, 1897, I was ordered to Woolwich, as commanding No. 2 Depot Company, and Second in command, and it was here we had the great trouble of our lives, for we lost our little son, who was buried in the Woolwich cemetery, at Plumstead. In September, 1898, we moved to Shorncliffe, where I commanded my Corps, and remained at this, my best station, I consider, till the outbreak of the South African war, in October, 1899. On the 6th October, 1899,1 was appointed to the staff as D.A.A.G. Lines of Communication, and sailed for South Africa, from Southampton, in the Union Castle s.s. "Braemar Castle." On arrival I was made D.A.A.G. Railway Transport, and having organized the service throughout Cape Colony, sent nearly 112,000 troops, besides animals, guns, stores, etc., up the line from Cape Town. On the 1st April, 1900, I was promoted Lieut-Colonel, and made A.A.G. by Lord Roberts, for what be was pleased to term "excellent service." I was at once sent away from my Railway Transport work, to be A.A.G. and Assistant Director of Supplies from the Orange River to Bulawayo, with headquarters at Kimberly. In October, 1900, I was made A.A.G. commanding the Army Service Corps in South Africa, which appointment I held till it was abolished in July, 1901, when I was ordered to Natal as A.A.G. on the Headquarter Staff, first under Sir H. Hildyard and then Sir Nevil Lyttleton.
My wife and daughter, who had been at St. Helena with my father-in-law, the Hon. T. E. Fowler, joined me at Kimberley in August, 1900, and had typhoid fever at Newcastle, Natal, the latter most seriously. They went home in March, 1902.
We lived at Wynberg, Cape Colony, till 4th August, 1904, when we came home in H.M.T. "Dunera," I commanding the troops on board. I was ordered to Portsmouth, where we remained till I retired from the Service on 1st April, 1905. From retirement I was appointed District Barrack Officer, Southern Command, on 24th April, 1905, and later, on 23rd November, 1907, to a similar appointment in the Eastern Command, with headquarters in London: this post I now hold (1912).
My youngest son, Alexander Fowler, was born at 29, Eardley Crescent, Earls Court, London, on the 20th June, 1902, and was baptised at St. Matthias church, Earls Court. The history of my wife's family, as far as I have gathered it, is as follows:-