Victor Vowles and Rachel Hoyland
Victor (Vic) was born near Bristol the youngest child of Thomas Vowles and Agnes Weaver. He always gave his birthplace as Churchill, Somerset although his birth certificate states nearby Congresbury.
He joined the RAF in 1928 and served 19 years. During the 1930s he served seven years in Palestine with 2 ACC (Armoured Car Corp) Squadron, the armoured car corps.
Returning to England in 1936 he was promoted to Corporal and posted to Cardington, the RAF Balloon Training Unit, where he trained as a balloon operator.
Over the next three years he was promoted to Sergeant, Flight Sergeant and then Warrant Officer. In 1944 he was recommended for commision.
At the end of the war Vic's RAF career changed direction after he completed a course at the School of Explosives, Tattenhall. Following this he was involved in the secret recovery of German gas bombs which had been found hidden in a wood in France in preparation to be dropped by the Luftwaffe on Britain.
He retired from the RAF in July 1947 with the rank of Flying Officer. In recognition of the long service, he received an invitation from the Queen to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in July 1969.
Vic married Georgina Hobson while based at Cardington in Bedfordshire in 1938. She appears as next of kin on his service record and was living in London while he followed his postings as a balloon operator but the relationship was short lived.
It was during the war that he met Rachel Hoyland who was serving in the WAAF at the time. Rachel had seen the war as an opportunity to escape her domesticated life. As their youngest daughter, her parents had wanted her to stay at home and help her mother even though her older sisters had both been encouraged to have careers. By 1947 Vic had retired from the RAF and settled with Rachel in a small village in Lincolnshire and their first child was a year old. They stayed in Lincolnshire for 12 years and had three more children during the 1950s before moving to Nottinghamshire around 1958.
Vic was always a big sports fan and during his RAF career he represented the force playing both football and rugby. He was in the crowd at Wembley to witness England winning the football World Cup in 1966.
He was pretty strict as a father but also had a great sense of humour and was known to play the occasional practical joke.
They retired to Queensland, Australia in 1982. Vic died just two weeks short of his 80th birthday after suffering a heart attack while gardening which was another of his passions. Rachel passed away peacefully, aged 91.
Balloon Barrage, Cardington 1938
Does Victor Vowles feature in this film?
It's highly likely as he was a balloon operator based at Cardington at the time.
Go to British Pathe News and click play to view a short film showing barrage balloons being sent up into the sky by RAF airmen at the old Cardington airship base.