It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the United States—an appropriate time to remember a particular soldier who lost his life in World War II.
For his family, details of Private Travis Fowler’s death have remained unclear for decades.
As a prisoner-of-war who had escaped—very likely from P.G. 59—in late 1943, Travis had evaded capture in Italy for months. Then, while attempting to cross the Allied lines, he was shot by a German sentry. He died 78 years ago this month. See “Travis Fowler—Nearly Home.”
When I wrote about Travis in January 2021, I had not been in contact with anyone from Travis’ family.
Four days ago, I received a note from his nephew, Jeff Fowler.
Jeff wrote, “Travis Fowler was my uncle. I am the son of Jessie D. Fowler. Until recently I did not know that Travis was a POW; today, thanks to you, I learned even more.”
Some information known to older relatives in the Fowler family may not have been passed down.
Travis Fowler’s grave marker in Worth County, Georgia
Travis Luther Fowler was born November 21, 1919, in the small town of Sylvester, Georgia.
His father, Jefferson Davis Fowler, was born the year the U.S. Civil War ended. He turned 54 in the year Travis was born. Travis’s mother, Charlotte Maude Mallard Fowler, was 17 years younger and J. D.’s second wife. Travis had 15 siblings—four sisters and 11 brothers (four of them half-siblings).
Like most boys, Travis was given a grammar school education, and then was expected to earn a living and help support his family. He worked at a local mill that produced textiles, likely woven from Georgian cotton. He married Eva Whittington Fowler.
Travis enlisted in—or was drafted into—the U.S. Army in May 1942 at the age of 22.
He was assigned to the First Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment (“Vanguards”). Travis would have little time for deployment preparation, as his battalion departed the New York Port of Embarkation on August 1, 1942, bound for southwest England. On October 22, it left England for the Operation Torch assault on North Africa.