2nd Lieutenant George Cowie
54 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps*
Killed in Action, 22nd October 1917, aged 18
The only son of Captain and Mrs Alexander Cowie of Dullan Brae, Dufftown, Banffshire in North East Scotland, George was my father's first cousin and four years older. My father greatly admired and looked up to him. Both were educated at Rugby School.
At the beginning of 1917, and much against his parents’ wishes, George Cowie left school early while still only 17, as he was determined to join the Royal Flying Corps. After what seems to have been a very short period of training, he was commissioned and was posted to 54 Squadron.
Flying Sopwith Pup B1782, George Cowie was with a patrol over the front line in Belgium when it was engaged by German aircraft. In the ensuing battle, he collided with another aircraft, both falling behind the German lines. It was at first hoped that he might have survived and become a prisoner of war, but then it became clear he had been killed.
His mother was presiding over a large group of ladies knitting and sewing for men at the front, when she received a note to say he had been killed. Knowing that nearly all those in the hall had husbands, sons and brothers fighting in the war, she managed to conceal her grief until the session was over.
Had he survived, George Cowie would have inherited the Glenrinnes estate. All that is left is the collection of over 300 letters I have that, from the age of 8, he wrote to his parents and two younger sisters from school.
Sir Michael Oswald KCVO DSc MA
Honorary Air Commodore
2620 (Count of Norfolk) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force
11 November 2006 to date
* Lt Howie enlisted as a volunteer airman in 1917. Had he so enlisted in 1924, he would have become a member of the recently formed Auxiliary Air Force. Inasmuch, he and similar RFC and RNAS volunteers are considered very worthy of, and eligible for inclusion in today’s RAuxAF Foundation’s Memorial list.