Interview with Alfred Fowler, 29 September 2016
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
'Veterans: A Shared Experience' interviews
Scope and Content:
Alfred 'Chick' Fowler [AF] interviewed by Juliana Vandegrift about serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

[00:00] AF describes the day war was declared; his role in the Local Defence Volunteers as a fire watcher; being inspired to join the RAF; being told at the recruitment office in Romford that his standard of education was not high enough to be a pilot.

[04:58] Advised to join the engine department of the Royal Navy; qualifying as a 2nd class stoker after a 6-week training course at Chatham barracks; being drafted to HMS Sheffield with 40 others in March 1942; the journey from Chatham Station to Newcastle dockyard; his first impression of the ‘Shiny Sheff’.

[10:09] His involvement in the dummy convoy to Norway just before D-Day; being rammed by HMS Cadmus, a British warship, in the Mediterranean, and the subsequent death of a stoker; how bombardments were carried out using the presence of a naval agent on land.

[15:31] Escorting King George V-class (KGV) battleships in the search of two German battleships, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau; the discovery of Scharnhorst and subsequent chase and sinking of the ship; his sadness at being involved in sinking other ships and killing sailors who were 'just like him'.

[19:05] A happy stay in Boston at the end of the war, had the ‘time of [their] lives’, with no food rationing and access to cinema and theatre shows; his weekly wages; an extra job in the kitchen of a local hotel.
Dates of Creation:
29 September 2016
21 minutes 27 seconds
Creator Name:
Juliana Vandegrift
Admin History:
Alfred William Fowler was born in Southend-on-Sea in 1923. When war was declared he joined the Local Defence Volunteers (later renamed the Home Guard) and served as a fire-watcher, which inspired him to try and join the RAF. After being turned down for the RAF he joined the Royal Navy aged 17. He was stationed on the HMS Sheffield between 1941 and 1946 and was involved in escorting Russian convoys, the bombardment of Italy, and the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst.
Archivist Note:
Acquisition Source:
Donated to the Essex Record Office by Southend Museums Service, September 2018.
Copyright Southend Museums
Physical Characteristics:
1 MP3 file [created from original WAV file]
Related Unit of Description:
For biographical information about Alfred Fowler, see SA 79/1/5/4
Dates of Description:
21 April 2022