Herbert Freeman Jowett, Engineer 1685619
Son of Evelyne Jowett and stepson of Frederick Lee, of Burnley, Lancashire. Herbert was the only son of Evelyne Jowett.
Runnymede Panel Number: 155
The following email was sent by George Parker (now 82 years old) who was a friend of Herbert Jowett the Flight Engineer on EE138. George. Contact was made with George through the tireless efforts of Mrs Anne Storm, a resident in England who has assisted many people in locating crew relatives all over the world.
Our sincere thanks go to Anne for her work in finding George; and to George for sharing this delightful insight into the character of one of the young crew members of EE138.
----- Original Message -----
I write to confirm I knew and was a friend of Herbert Jowett at Rosegrove School and as teenagers. We both bought second hand motor-bikes together and spent many happy hours racing and tinkering with them before my Mother spotted me racing one day and I was given the hard word to sell mine within a week.
George Parker (82)
In February 2009 Jean Stevens (nee Meadows), cousin of crew member Jowett found us via this website. Although too late for the 65th Commemoration, Jean intends to visit the Stadil cresh site in the furture. Jean would like to share the following poignant memories about her cousin Bert:
Memories - Herbert Freeman Jowett (Bert)
It must have been August 1943, a warm sunny day in Burnley. We had been out – probably to walk on the nearby moor land which is what we did frequently.
We had just arrived at our house. The scent of summer was in the still air. My mother and other family members had just gone into the house. As usual I was near my father and just behind us was my cousin Bert in his R.A.F. uniform. He tapped my father lightly on the arm and the three of us stopped on the garden path. I would have been seven years old. When you’re small and below any grown-up’s eye line you can be almost out of sight which gives you freedom to concentrate only on the atmosphere around you.
A seven-year old is attuned to nuances and inflections of meaning way beyond her capability to put into actual words but the words are felt and ‘thought’ in a complex and indefinable way.
Everything was still. Bert held his hand out to my father to shake his hand and said quietly, “Goodbye, Uncle Clifford. It’s curtains for me next time.”
I quite simply knew that what he said was true and my father didn’t try to sweep it away. Not for him the stock hearty reply. (Someone else might have said ‘You’ll be right as rain, you’ll see.’) Not Clifford Meadows. He stood very still and without a word something profound passed between him and Bert: all the emotion they felt without being able to express it, all the unsaid things that conveyed important messages.
Then we all went into the house to the chatting relatives. This experience is as clear to me now as it was then.
So when in September 1943, again on our return from a sunny moor land walk (it must have been a good summer), a neighbour rushed to meet us with the news that Bert had been posted as ‘missing’ I quite simply knew he was dead.
Only now have I come across the full story – on line – and find there is a commemorative plaque on the site where his body lies. Unfortunately, I completely missed the 65th commemoration last year but hope I’ll be able to visit this year.
I was moved to read the contributions by George Parker and Jessie Bowler – I am Clifford’s daughter Jean. Bert was close to my Dad (perhaps because his own father didn’t stay to see him grow up and also, perhaps, because my father was a mechanic and thus shared Bert’s interests and passions).
I also remember an Australian coming to stay with my Aunt Evelyn (Bert’s mum) and how impressed I was to meet someone from so far away. He was, I believe, the brother of one of the crew members who died with Bert. (Ed: this was crew member Forrester's brother Ian Forrester)
It was very interesting to read that ‘our Bert’ was known to some people as ‘Herb’ and that he had secret jaunts on a motor bike; and it gave such a human touch to my memories to realise that he spoke from the heart to my Dad but that – in the manner of all young men – showed bravado in front of his mates.
I mentioned that he was close to my Dad (his Uncle Clifford) ‘perhaps because his own father didn’t stay to see him grow up’ and I’ll expand on this here. My aunt Evelyn (Mason) married Freeman Jowett in Burnley in 1920 and their son Bert – Herbert Freeman Jowett - was born in Burnley in 1922.
I never met Freeman but heard the story related among the grown-ups: one day (date unknown to me) Freeman told Evelyn he was just popping out of the house (perhaps for cigarettes) then he simply disappeared and she never saw him again. I don’t know Bert’s age at this time but he was obviously very young.
I knew Fred Lee as my Uncle Fred but, so far, have been unable to trace records of his marriage to Evelyn. What I do know is that my mother spoke of Evelyn having to wait for seven years before she remarried. In those days (and, for all I know, this might still apply) it was only after a person had been missing for a full seven years that you could apply for that person to be declared ‘missing presumed dead’ and go ahead and marry someone else.
So, to all intents and purposes, Bert never knew his own father and didn’t acquire a step-father for many years and, as I say, he probably found a father-figure in my Dad. Fred Lee already had a son (so, presumably, he had been married previously) but, I think whilst he was living with Evelyn, that son died from influenza.
Then, of course, Evelyn lost Bert and, in her later years, nursed Fred through a long illness. Add to that the fact that Evelyn suffered from very bad arthritis from an early age and you gather that her life was far from easy. But I never, ever heard her grumble; she had a zest for life, worked part-time into her eighties, and always had a joke and a cheerful word for everyone.
- Jean Stevens (nee Meadows), cousin of Herbert Freeman Jowett (Bert)
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