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Major Frederick Sowery

Major Frederick Sowery


DSO, MC (August 25th 1898 – October 21st 1968)

Frederick Sowrey was born in Gloucester and educated at King's College School and went on to matriculate from King's College, Cambridge. Sowrey's family had a long tradition of service working for the Indian Civil Service and it was fully expected that Frederick Sowrey would follow the same path.

World War I intervened, however, and in 1914 Sowrey joined up with the Royal Fusileers. In September 1915, Sowrey was wounded at the Battle of Loos and invalided back to England. Whilst recovering he learnt to fly and joined the Royal Flying Corps in December 1915. Sowrey was posted to Suttons Farm to fly with 39 Squadron. and became firm friends with his fellow pilots William Leefe Robinson and Wulstan Tempest.

On the night of 23rd/24th September 1916 Sowrey successfully intercepted the Super Zeppelin L32 and after emptying three drums of explosive and incendiary ammunition into it finally set it alight. The flaming wreck crashed to the ground near Billiericay in Essex. All the crew, including the leading Zeppelin Commander Werner Peterson, were killed. Amongst the wreckage was found a significant portion of the German naval code book.

For his Zeppelin exploit, Sowrey was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and like his fellow pilots Leefe Robinson and Tempest found himself bathed in the glow of publicity and national accolades.

Sowrey was posted to Flanders in mid 1917 as a flight commander with 19 Squadron. Whilst flying with 19 squadron Sowrey was credited with shooting down 7 German aircraft and sharing in the destruction of 5 others. This record meant that Sowrey could claim to be a fighter ace and was awarded the Military Cross (MC). Sowrey ended the War in England as the commanding officer of 143 Squadron.



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