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Lieutenant Roy Cowell-Townshend
7th Training Depot Station – Royal Air Force

Local Information:

Lieutenant Roy Cowell-Townshend was born on Christmas Day 25 Dec 1898 at Wilmot Farm, Hewelsfield, Chepstow, Monmouthshire (now Gloucestershire). After leaving school from St Bart's Grammar School Newbury he took up an electrical apprenticeship.

His father, Edwin C Cowell, was a farmer’s son in 1881 and by 1901 he was evidentally quite wealthy, as he employed a couple of servants and a governess. From the census data, he is reported as living on his own means which basically means he was retired at the young age of 32! Edwin was born in Hackney in 1869. He married Ada Caroline Parker in 1897 in Guildford and died in 1944, aged 72 at Savernake Hospital, Marlborough. When Edwin died he was living at 21 The Croft, Hungerford with his son Leo William Cowell Townsend (who had been born in 1909, also in Chepstow) who was the church organist at St. Lawrence’s Church. Leo died in 1999 aged 90. Roy also had a half-brother, Arthur Parker (b 1894) and a half- sister, May Parker (b 1895).

He joined the Royal Flying Corps on the 17th February 1917 and was medically examined at Reading. He was shown as being 5ft 9inches tall, weight 10 stone with a chest measurement of 32/35 inches.

After being processed he was posted to the 35th Training Battalion on the 22nd February 1917. His address at this time was shown as 7 Company, 20 Hut, No 2 R.F.A. Camp (Rank - Private 8/9818).

On 3 Aug he was appointed as a temporary Lance Corporal. During this period he carried out training at Winchester (20 C.W.) and Oxford (39 T.S.S). On 1 Nov 1917 he was posted to the 2nd/8th Training Battalion and on 5 Dec was discharged to a commission. On 21 Dec 1917 he was transferred from Oxford to Carlton. On 21 Jan 1918 he was transferred to 81 Squadron, 23 Wing. On 1 Apr he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant (on probation). On 23 May 1918 he was transferred for the final time from 81 Squadron to 9 T.D.S. Shaftsbury.

[Note the early postings were army based with basic training being carried out with the Royal Field Artillery, once complete his further postings were based around his flying and officer training].

Newbury Weekly News:

Aeroplane Accident

Mr and Mrs E. Cowell-Townshend have been bereaved of their son, Lieut Roy Cowell-Townshend, age 19, killed in an aeroplane accident near Birmingham.

The body was brought to Hungerford for interment, and a requiem service was held at St Saviour's Church on Monday morning, the funeral taking place in the afternoon. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack, and floral tributes.

Boy Scouts and wounded soldiers attended and gave a semi-military character to the ceremony, conducted by Rev T.S. Gray and Rev J.F.C. Denning. The R.A.F. was represented by Colonel Peter Portal DSO. MC.

When he first joined he gave an address as 79 Westridge Road, Southampton, but later as Willow Lodge, Hungerford. His next of kin was listed as Edwin Cowell-Townshend (Father) Willow [Cottage], Hungerford. Later documents show his NOK address as Croft House, Hungerford, Berkshire.

On Wednesday the 29th May 1918 he was killed in a flying accident whilst training, age 19.

He initially joined the Royal Flying Corps and was transferred to the Royal Air Force on its formation on the 1st April 1918. He is listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but has no CWGC headstone in St Saviour's churchyard, Eddington, where he is buried.

Photo Gallery:

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- The family headstone for Lieutenant Cowell-Townshend in St Saviour's churchyard

- The family grave in St Saviour's churchyard, 2017 (by Dr Jimmy Whittaker).