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Rex Fowles

Rex Fowles was born in the second quarter of 1900 and his birth registered in Malton He was the fifth son of Abraham Goodair and Sarah Jane (nee Fairburn) Fowles who married in the third quarter of 1883 in Leeds. He was educated at Malton Grammar School and sang in the choir at St Leonard’s Church (then an Anglican church). His father Abraham had a tailor’s shop at 6, Yorkersgate (where William Hill’s betting shop now is) from 1893.

In 1901 Abraham and Sarah and their six children lived at “Ash Dene” in St Peter’s Street, Norton.

1901 census – resident at Ash Dene, Saint Peters Street, Norton

FOWLES, Abraham G, Head, Married, M, 40, Tailor & Outfitter, Leeds Yorkshire,
FOWLES, Sarah J, Wife, Married, F, 40, , Hull Yorkshire,
FOWLES, Lionel S, Son, Single, M, 14, , Malton Yorkshire,
FOWLES, Percival, Son, Single, M, 12, , Malton Yorkshire,
FOWLES, Raymond C, Son, Single, M, 9, , Malton Yorkshire,
FOWLES, Vivian W, Daughter, Single, F, 7, , Malton Yorkshire,
FOWLES, Jack E, Son, , M, 2, , Malton Yorkshire,
FOWLES, Rex, Son, , M, 1, , Malton Yorkshire,
HEATH, Alice, Servant, , F, 25, General Servant (Domestic), Malton Yorkshire,

The family moved to 39 Old Maltongate in 1905 and were living there in 1911.

1911 census – resident at 39 Old Maltongate
FOWLES, Abraham Goodair, Head, Married, M, 50, Gentleman Tailor And Outfitters, Leeds Yorks,
FOWLES, Sarah Jane, Wife, Married 27 years, F, 53, , Hull Yorks,
FOWLES, Lionel Stuart, Son, Single, M, 24, Assisting In The Business, Malton Yorks,
FOWLES, Raymond Conrad, Son, Single, M, 19, Cutter, Malton Yorks,
FOWLES, Vivian Winifred Marie, Daughter, Single, F, 17, , Malton Yorks,
FOWLES, Jack Eric Fairburn, Son, Single, M, 12, School, Malton Yorks,
FOWLES, Rex, Son, Single, M, 11, School, Malton Yorks,

It was probably at the age of 16 that Rex became an apprentice on the S.S. Cilurnum, a three-thousand ton  defensively-armed steamship owned by Hall Bros. SS. Co., Ltd. and operating out of Newcastle. On 19th April 1917 Captain A. E. Mace was taking a cargo of coal from Cardiff to La Pallice, when, off Pointe de Penmarc’h on the south-west coast of Britanny, she was torpedoed without warning by a U-boat – UC 21, under the command of Reinhold Saltzwedel and sank. The rest of the crew appear to have been rescued but Rex was drowned, the only casualty of the episode. The wreck still lies at the site (Latitude : 47°44'9687 / N Longitude : 004°29'9561 / W )

The episode was reported in the Malton Messenger on April 28th 1917 “REPORTED MISSING. Mr and Mrs A.G. Fowler, Malton, received the sad intelligence last week that their youngest son, Rex, who was employed in the Merchant Navy was missing, his ship having been torpedoed. Deceased, who was only 17 years of age, was on a ship last year which was torpedoed, and he was then saved after being some hours in the water. A brother of his is serving in the army”.

As well as the War Memorial, Rex Fowles has a personal memorial plaque in St Leonard’s Church, and is commemorated on the Malton School Memorial and the Town memorial.