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2nd Lieutenant, 14th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps.

Killed in action 23rd July 1917, age 30.

Remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial, Israel and Palestine.

Member of the University Officer Training Corps.


 

John was born on 26th October 1887 at Tenby, Pembrokeshire, to William and Sarah Jane Howells. He attended Greenhill Grammar School, Tenby, the local Wesleyan School, and trained to be a Methodist teacher at Westminster Training College, London. He also went to Handsworth College, Birmingham before taking up a post at Secombe Wesleyan School.

When war broke out John was a Wesleyan Minister at Victoria Hall, Ancoats as part of the Manchester Mission. He joined the Officer Training Corps in May 1915 and three months later he was gazetted to the 7th Lancashire Fusiliers, later transferring to the Royal Flying Corps to serve as an observer. He was killed when the plane he was in was hit by anti-aircraft fire near Gaza on 23rd July 1917. German and Austrian officers serving in the same area erected a memorial to commemorate enemy men who died locally, including John. A fellow officer wrote: “It struck us as strange that a clergyman should be in a fighting unit, particularly one of such scholarly attainments. But the fact that he had chosen and taken the path of exceeding danger increased our respect tremendously, and made us realise how burning the conviction was that made him lay aside the duties of his office for the rough work of the field. He met his death as he would have wished has he known – doing what he counted as the prime duty of British manhood today, and in a country which, from his previous knowledge of it and its association with his faith, meant more to him than to most. We grieve at the loss of a good comrade and a plucky soldier.”