Harold Edward Ashcroft Fowler
Serial No. 416
No. 1 Machine Gun Company & 23rd Machine Gun Company
Harold Edward Ashcroft Fowler - Information
Harold was born and raised in Campbelltown to Alfred and Lydia Fowler. The Fowlers then relocated to Coffs Harbour. Completing a 5 year apprenticeship, Harold began working as a builder when the war broke out. He soon decided to enlist in the AIF. He joined up in Liverpool on the 9th of May 1916, aged 23.
Harold, who became known as Lofty, as he was 6 ft 3, was posted to No. 1 Machine Gun Company. His unit departed Melbourne onboard the HMAT Port Lincoln on the 20th of October 1916. They arrived at Devonport in December. In February 1917, Lofty was transferred to the 3rd Division Machine Gun Company and then back to the 1st Company. Lofty and his comrades spent the year preparing for conditions on the Western Front, training in enfilading and advance tactics. In early December 1917, Lofty left Folkestone for France and upon arrival was marched out to the 23rd Machine Gun Company in Belgium. In 1918, Lofty experienced the intense fighting following the German Spring Offensive. In early July, he was holding the line at Hamel as a machine gunner attached to the 3rd Battalion, providing infantrymen with cover fire. On the 13th of July, Lofty was eating breakfast on the parapet about 10:30am, when suddenly a shell came over and hit the trench. The blast killed several troops and wounded many others. Lofty was badly hurt with multiple injuries, including a severely damaged leg and arm. He was taken away by the 10th Field Ambulance to the 5th Casualty Clearing Station. The next day, his leg had to be amputated. He lingered in agony for almost a fortnight when his arm was also amputated. Alas, Lofty died from his wounds and shock at 9pm on the 26th of July. He was buried at Crouy British Cemetery, Crouy St Pierre, near Amiens. His name is recorded on a plaque at Dredge's Cottage in Campbelltown.