The truth is revealed should you venture inside, going from quiet to silent. Inside the locked tower, I peered through the glass and on the wall, I spied the plaque…
St Michael and All Angel’s Church in Tirley has seen the water rise and fall. Its near proximity to the river Severn means that the small village of Tirley has been often been touched; particularly as rainfall and surface runoff further up the river filled its banks to overflowing. And yet the church still stands…
It looks handsome, cared for. With its shaped yews, its lime-washed walls and timbered foyer. Clearly in its recent years, funding has found its way to Tirley. But a clock face beams at you from its position on the tower. I will admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Tirley. In more ancient times, my family worked upon this river and lived amongst the villagers of Tirley; but that was then. Now Tirley is perhaps a little more sleepy, a little less busy and the river is now more scenic wander than thoroughfare.
The war memorial stands, a little blasted by the elements but proud on its pedestal.
In loving memory of the men of this parish who gave their lives in the Great War 1914 – 1918 “Their name liveth for evermore” They died for freedom and honour William J. Bayliss Joseph J. Collins Charles F. Dyson George E. Fowler William J. Hawkins William A. Richens Reginald B. Tarling Ernest W. Tustin
There are eight names upon it.
George Edward Fowler
One of those names is George E. Fowler. In whose name the clock was made in memory. The truth is revealed should you venture inside, going from quiet to silent. Inside the locked tower, I peered through the glass and on the wall, I spied the plaque:
This clock made by J. Carter, of this parish is erected in memory of 2nd Lieutenant George Edward Fowler (son of J. and D. L. Fowler of Town St, Tirley) of the 12th Gloucesters who fell in action near Ypres October 28th 1917 Aged 37 years The noble army of martyrs praise thee
The record tells us that 2nd Lieutenant George Edward Fowler died on the 28th October 1917 at the age of 37. He was serving as an officer in ‘D’ Company of the 12th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment; affectionately referred to as ‘Bristol’s Own.’
He was the son of the late John Fowler and of D. L. Fowler, of The Marlowe, Apperley, Tewkesbury, formerly of Shirley, Tewkesbury.
He has no known grave and he is remembered on the memorial panel at Tyne Cot near Ypres in Belgium. One of over 35,000 British and New Zealanders who have no known grave and who were killed between August 1917 and November 1918. Many of them in the Third Battle of Ypres sometimes known as Passchendaele in mid-late 1917; it is likely he fell here.
The clock in the tower was made by Mr John Taylor of the parish of Tirley. A report in the local Cheltenham Chronicle told the legend that the clockmaker had created the clock at Tirley out of:
“odd bits of old iron, a ploughshare, the barrel of a pistol, part of a mowing machine, a small portion of a frying pan, a pound or two of bicycle and pieces of oak and deal.” Cheltenham Chronicle 12th January 1935
It was being wound, according to the report, twice a week by Mr Taylor and was keeping perfect time. Mr Taylor was making another clock for a nearby village. It is nice to think that another such clock exists elsewhere.
Hubert John Taylor was known as ‘Old John’ in the village where he lived all of his life working initially as a wheelwright. He did indeed make another clock for the village of Eldersfield nearby using the agricultural parts and bits and bobs he had around him. Old John died in 1945, a man of the village.
But George Edward Fowler was one of the village who never returned from the Great War. He was living at the Old Farm in Apperley, but his brothers lived and worked in around Tirley farming. He had been educated at Eldersfield school and had an apprenticeship in ironmongery in Gloucester. He spent time in Axminster and London before coming back to Tirley. He moved to the Old Farm in 1907 until the war, farming and making Double Gloucester cheese.
He enlisted, joined the Gloucestershire Regiment and went to France in November 1915. He received a commission in 1916 and was promoted 2nd Lieutenant in mid 1917. He had been the first honorary secretary of the Tewkesbury and District Branch of the Farmers’ Union; whilst also working with the Apperley and Deerhurst schools. He was killed in action aged 37 years old and was single.
Reg Tarling worked for George Fowler; Lance-Corporal Reg Tarling of the 14th Glosters died a week before him and shares a spot with him on the war memorial at Tirley and at the memorial panel at Tyne Cot.