Courtesy of Amanda Bullock
Driver Ernest Adam Singer Fowler
Pakenham & District War Memorial & Pakenham State School Roll of Honour
Born: 14 August 1896 - Bourke, NSW
Enlisted: 20 November 1915 aged 19
Unit: 8th Field Artillery Brigade Ammunition Column (SERN: 20288)
Served: Western Front
Died: 29 September 1971 - Cannington Perth, Western Australia
Ernest was born at the Central Australian (“Gale’s”) Hotel in Bourke NSW on 14 August 1896. He was a son of Adam Singer Fowler and Katherine Donaldson (1). At the time, Adam was the manager of “Urisino”, a 730,000 acre sheep station 220 kms west of Bourke, near Wanaaring (2). Adam was a prominent citizen in that district, serving on the Pastures Protection Board, the Wanaaring Licensing Court, and (until 1909) as Justice of the Peace and Coroner (3). In 1909, the family left Urisino and after a short period near Ballarat, took up a dairy farm in Pakenham called “Elmsleigh” (4). Ernest and his siblings attended Pakenham State School. They had not been able to go to school at Urisino and the desire to give their children a proper education may have been one reason why Adam and Katherine moved south (5). Unfortunately, Adam did not make a success of the dairy farm, going broke after a while (6). By late 1911, the family had moved to Moorarie Station near Yalgoo Western Australia , where Adam had become the station manager (7).
Ernest and his brother Vic enlisted together in Melbourne in November 1915. Apparently they had travelled from outback Western Australia to Pakenham so they could enlist with school friends (8). At the time of their enlistment, Ernest was a 19 year old “station hand” and Vic a 20 year old “station overseer” (9). As they enlisted together, Ernest and Vic were given sequential service numbers and assigned to the 8th Field Artillery Brigade Ammunition Column as drivers. This was probably because they knew how to handle horses. The brothers embarked for England together on the HMAT Medic in May 1916. Ernest and Vic ended up serving together on the Western Front too, supplying ammunition to the 31st Battery. This involved handling teams of six horses pulling wooden sleds loaded with ammunition from ammunition dumps to where the guns were positioned. The same teams of horses would also be used to position the guns (10). The conditions for this work were atrocious when the land was turned into a muddy morass by shellfire and rain. Ernest was given a short respite from life at the front in December 1917 when he had leave in Paris. In August 1918, he was deemed as “supernumerary to establishment of 8th FAB”, and sent to England, where he spent the remainder of the War. He returned to Australia in March 1919 and was discharged in the 5th Military District (Western Australia) the following month (11). He made his way to remote Meekatharra to visit his parents who were then living at a place called Bamboo Springs (12).
After returning to station life, Ernest went into share farming growing wheat with his brother-in-law Arthur Were at Bell Rock Farm at Lomos near Corrigin Western Australia. Unfortunately, this enterprise ran into financial difficulty by 1930 and was eventually wound up (13). At one stage, Ernest also sought a prospecting licence on the WA goldfields (14). Ernest married Mary Elliott in 1940. The couple eventually moved down to the Serpentine / Jarrahdale district, south of Perth, where Ernest took up poultry farming at Mundijong, then at Mardella (15). The couple raised their family there. During WWII, Ernest served in Australia as a private (W26733) with the 5th Garrison Battalion (16). By 1968, Ernest was listed on the electoral roll as a retired farmer living at Bridgewater, near Cannington Perth (17). Ernest died there in 1971 aged 75 years.
The assistance of Ernest’s son Ernest Fowler and relative Amanda Bullock is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) Western Herald 15/8/1896, p. 3
(2) The Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser 30/11/1901, p. 1371
(3) Western Herald 30/11/1892, p.2; Sydney Morning Herald 1/8/1903, p.7 & Evening News, 18/3/1909 P. 3
(4), (5), (6), (8) & (10) - Information provided by Ernest Fowler
(7) Murchison Times & Day Dawn Gazette, 28/12/1911 p. 4
(9) & (11) NAA B2455 FOWLER E A S
(12) Murchison Times and Day Dawn Gazette 18/4/1919, p.2
(13) West Australian 14/2/1930 p. 3
(14) Kalgoorlie Miner 27/4/1932, p. 1
(15) Ancestry.com.au - Electoral Roll - Forrest - Murray 1943 p. 21
(16) NAA B884 W26733
(17) Ancestry.com.au - Electoral Roll- Fremantle - Riverton 1968 p. 25