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
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.