In Memoriam: John Maclellan Mowat

Photograph of John Maclellan Mowat in uniform.
John Maclellan Mowat

John Maclellan Mowat was killed in a flying accident at Cramlington, Northumberland on 5th January 1917, aged 20 years.

He was born at Busby, near Glasgow, in 1896 and attended Bootham School from 1911 to 1913.  He was in the Cricket and Football XI’s at school.  In the 1913 school Athletics competition he won the 100 yards (11⅘ sec) and the Kick (53 yds 0 ft).

The November 1913 issue of “Bootham” magazine reports:

“J. M. MOWAT leaves from the Lower Senior after two years at Bootham. He served the School well in games, as goalkeeper, batsman, and bowler, and his kicking in the Sports was very good.”

The March 1916 issue of “Bootham” magazine lists, under Bootham School War Lists, Under Military Discipline:

MOWAT, J. M., Second Lieut., 3rd Bn. Prince of Wales’s North Staffordshire Regt.”

In March 1917, “Bootham”, in the Across the Months section reports that:

“WE have heard with great regret of the deaths of four more Old Boys. J. G. MOWAT (sic) was killed on January 5th in an aeroplane accident. His generation remembers him as a good goalkeeper.”

This was followed in the June 1917 issue by a letter from a schoolfellow who knew him well:

“It was with great regret that we heard of the death of another old scholar, John M. Mowat, whilst flying at Cramlington, Northumberland, on January 5th, 1917.

He joined the Glasgow University O.T.C. in September, 1914, and was gazetted to the North Staffords on April 29th, 1915.

He thought he would go on active service sooner if he was in the Royal Flying Corps, so he applied for a transfer, and it came through in September, 1916, just as he was starting for Mesopotamia. He finished his observer’s course at Oxford in the end of October, and then did the first part of the pilot’s course at Turnhouse, and was very nearly qualified for his “wings” when he met with his accident.

Very little is known about the accident. He was flying alone in a difficult machine, and a letter that reached home the day after he was killed speaks of “very bad flying weather.”

I quote the words of his CO. : ” His death is a loss to the R.F.C. Both his instructors and I felt sure he was going to become a good pilot. He was keen in all his work, and liked by all who knew him.”

All who were at school with him will remember him for his unselfish disposition and his willingness to help others.

The School has lost a gallant Old Boy, and those who knew him have lost a good and true friend.

He was buried at his home, Kilmacolm. His funeral took place on a most perfect day, and Mowat went to his long last rest with Nature’s blessing.

All that life contains of torture, toil and treason,

Shame, dishonour, death to h’m were but a name.

Here, a boy, he dwelt through all the singing season,

And ‘ere the day of sorrow departed as he came.”

Lieut, J. M. Mowatt, R.F.C. was buried at Kilmacolm Cemetery near Glasgow.

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