Victor Vowles and Rachel Hoyland
Victor (Vic) was born in Bristol the youngest child of Thomas Vowles and Agnes Weaver. He always gave his birthplace as Churchill although his birth certificate states Congresbury.
He joined the RAF in 1928 and served 19 years. During the 1930s he served seven years in Palestine with 2 ACC 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 recovery of German gas bombs which were found in a wood in France where they had been hidden and prepared to be dropped 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 but the relationship was short lived. She appears as next of kin on his service record and was living in London while he followed his postings as a balloon operator.
It was during the war that he met Rachel Hoyland who was serving in the WRAF at the time. Rachel had seen the war as an opportunity to escape her domesticated life. As their youngest daughter, her parents had expected 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 played both football and rugby. He was at Wembley to witness England winning the football World Cup in 1966.
They retired to Queensland, Australia in 1982. Vic died just two weeks short of his 80th birthday after suffering a heart attack while gardening, another of his passions. Rachel passed away peacefully, aged 91.
Balloon Barrage, Cardington 1938
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.
Does Victor Vowles feature in this film?
It's highly likely as he was a balloon operator based at Cardington at the time.