19-year-old Lieutenant Harry Fawdry, Royal Air Force, was killed in action on 11th August 1918 when his aeroplane (DH9 serial number C1207) was hit by anti-aircraft fire over Zeebrugge. He was born in Sutton Coldfield in 1899, and was the eldest of the two sons of parents, Harry and Winifred Annie (née Hammersley). The couple had married at Bordesley, Birmingham in 1897 and were living at The Parade, Sutton Coldfield at the time of their eldest son’s baptism in October 1899.
By 1904, when their second child, Walter, was born, the family was living at Olton Mill, Lode Lane, Solihull, where Harry (senior) was a miller and corn dealer.
Harry (junior) was educated at Solihull School, where he took a keen interest in all sports, was a member of the O.T.C. and won the school silver challenge cup for marksmanship. He left school in 1914, and spent two years working with the Worcester firm of John Barnett & Sons, a coal merchant’s that had expanded into corn and seed supplies. The intention was that Harry would join his father’s business, a corn and seed merchant’s in High Street, Solihull.
However, on his 18th birthday, he joined the Royal Naval Air Service, being gazetted Flight Lieutenant on the formation of the Royal Air Force in April 1918. In a letter to his parents, his squadron commander told them that Lieutenant Fawdry was an excellent officer and one of the best active service pilots in the squadron. The letter, published in Solihull Parish Magazine, October 1918 said:
He had been on 33 raids into enemy territory and had to 2 enemy machines to his credit. He was always to be relied upon and had done such exceptionally good work that he would have won honours in a short time. He went to France May 23rd, and previously to that stationed at Dover, where he saw much service and was one of the escorts for the Vindictive when she went out on her last memorable voyage. He was a keen and fearless aviator, and his early death is much to be deplored and cuts short a very promising career.
Lieutenant Fawdry is buried at Zeebrugge Churchyard in Belgium, and commemorated locally on war memorials in Solihull and at Solihull School. His younger brother, Walter (1904-1966) was too young to serve in the First World War but seems to have held a commission in the RAF during the Second World War.
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