Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Robert Fowler

Robert Fowler :

Robert Fowler : Military Medal

Military Medal

We don't know anything about Robert's family or his early life, although we believe he was from Liverpool.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and Robert joined the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry. This was a mounted unit of the Territorial Force. He was given the service number 3567, which suggests he enlisted during late August or early September.

Robert first went overseas on the 21st May 1915, to France. This means it is likely he was a member of D Squadron of the Yeomanry. This was attached to the 14th (Light) Division until the 14th June 1916 when it was moved to form part of III Corps Cavalry Regiment. This unit existed until the 28th August 1917. We don't know anything about Robert's service in these units, although most cavalrymen had been dismounted and fought on foot by this point.

By this point in the war the British Army was increasingly short of infantry, but did not need all the Cavalry and Yeomanry units it had. Robert and his comrades were retrained as infantry, and then sent to join the 12th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 29th September. Robert was given the new service number 245620.

Robert is likely to have fought in the Passchendaele Offensive of autumn 1917, helped to defeat the German Spring Offensive of March and April 1918, and then taken part in the Allied Hundred Days Offensive that began in August. By October 1918 he had reached the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 and was serving as a Company Sergeant Major.

On the 12th October Robert carried out an act of great bravery during the 12th Battalion's attack across the River Serre, which they were attempting to cross using improvised bridges. He was awarded the Military Medal, which was published in the London Gazette on the 14th May 1919. This is the citation for his award:

For conspicuous gallantry on the 12th October 1918 at the River Serre near Neuvilly. When the leading company of the battalion arrived at the river it was found that the bridges were too short and the far end was floating downstream. Instantly, despite the heavy enemy machine gun fire this Warrant Officer leapt into the water and assisted in holding up an uncompleted bridge until all the men had gone across.

The sense of duty and great determination displayed by this Warrant Officer materially assisted towards making the attack successful.

The war ended on the 11th November. We don't know when Robert was demobilised, or anything about the rest of his life. His medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in July 1996. As well as his Military Medal, Robert was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal for his Army service.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council