2nd Lieutenant James Ashwell HOWE


Regiment/Service:
Royal Flying Corps
Unit:
14th Training Squadron. (Tadcaster)
Service Number:
n/a
Date of Death:
13 February 1918 - Killed
Age:
17
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
2250



Personal History:

James was born at Wirksworth, Derbyshire on the 30th June 1899 , the son of George Howe (Veterinary Surgeon) and Sarah Agnes (née Smith - married September quarter 1890) of 'Overdale', New Market Street, Buxton, Derbyshire. (1901 Census RG 13/3269)

He had two older brothers, George Arthur and Wilfred Bagshaw [see Footnote below], and a younger brother, Robert Smith, and younger sister, Dorothy Emma. The 1911 Census (RG 14/21242) shows the family Veterinary Practice at the Victoria Infirmary, New Market Street, Buxton. James' mother, Sarah, died on the 10th January 1916.

James' photo (above right) in 'The Sphere' bears the legend: "Clerk - Liverpool Office" and "Accidentally Killed". He had been a pupil of Buxton College, before going on to Denstone College, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, and left in 1915 to join 'Booth Line', a shipping company, to which the employment detail refers.

James is buried in Buxton Cemetery, alongside his parents, and as well as his CWGC headstone his parents' memorial stone carries an inscription to his memory.


Military History:
During the Great War there was an aerodrome at Bramham Moor at Headley Bar, Tadcaster which opened on the 18th March 1916. In early 1918, after the RAF was formed, RFC Bramham Moor became known as RAF Tadcaster.

When reporting James' death in its edition of 16th February 1918, 'The Buxton Advertiser' said that he had joined up in August 1917. James was Gazetted with effect from 13th December 1917, from Cadet to be Temporary 2nd Lieutenant (On Probation). (London Gazette, 20 December 1917)

Contemporary accounts have it that on Wednesday, the 13th January 1918, James, on a training flight for pilot qualification, ran into fog and suffered engine failure. His plane plunged from several thousand feet and nose-dived into the ground, killing him instantly.

On the 23rd February 'The Buxton Advertiser' gave an account of James' funeral, which had taken place the previous Saturday, the 16th. It read, in part:

"The day was bright and calm, with a sharp snap in the air. Round the corner of London Road, along Dale Road and down Market Street, towards the hour of 2.30, little knots of people gathered which were swelled by constant additions, until the two crowds of people at the London Road and Market Street ends of Dale Road became linked together by the long line of the road itself, of which St Mary's Church was the centre."

The report went on to give in some detail the funeral procession. There were eighty men, English
and Canadian, lined in two rows of forty, either side of the road, through which the cortege could
pass. His coffin was carried from the Church by eight Sergeants before being placed in a hearse
and, preceded by four Canadian buglers made its way to Buxton Cemetery, where James was
buried with full Military Honours. The buglers sounded the Last Post.

The inscription on his parent's grave (right) reads:

    "James Ashwell Howe, 2nd Lt. R.F.C.
                       (Jimmy)
Son of the above. Killed flying at Tadcaster
On Ash Wednesday 1916, Aged 17 Years"

Footnotes:
· James' older brother, Capt. Wilfred Bagshaw HOWE, was Gazetted on 1st March 1915 and served in
   France from the 20th December 1915 in the Army Veterinary Corps.

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser - 16 & 23 February 1918
· I am grateful to Robert (via the Great War Forum) for the photo of James from 'The Sphere' Magazine
· See also - 'Military Images'


Link to CWGC Record
2/Lt Howe's grave in Buxton Cemetery
Memorial inscription of James' parents grave
James' grave alongside that of his parents
2/Lt James A Howe
poppy
Click on photo for enlarged image