Flying Officer Robert George BOWLEY DFC

Service No: 416015
Born: Clare SA, 14 July 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 3 March 1941
Unit: No. 10 Squadron, RAF Mount Batten, Plymouth
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 29 February 1943 (Citation Title: No. 10 Squadron)
Died: Air Operations (No. 10 Squadron Sunderland aircraft DW4004), North Atlantic Ocean, 17 May 1943, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Alfred John and Olive Mary Bowley, of Clare, South Australia.
Roll of Honour: Clare SA
Remembered: Panel 187, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 99, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide
Remembered: Catalina Base Memorial, Rathmines NSW
Remembered: Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club, Rathmines NSW

The Joint Citation for the award of the DFC to Flying Officer Beeton (1) and Flying Officer Bowley of 10 Squadron is as follows: “In January 1943, Flying Officer Beeton and Bowley were Captain and Navigator of a Sunderland aircraft which located an enemy merchant ship attempting to evade the blockade. Despite extremely adverse weather, Flying Officer Beeton displayed outstanding determination and maintained patrol over the area until one of our naval vessels arrived and engaged the enemy vessel. On reaching base in this country, Flying Officer Beeton effected a masterly emergency landing in very difficult circumstance. Throughout, Flying Officer Bowley displayed brilliant navigation which contributed materially to the success of the operation. Both these officers have displayed courage and devotion to duty of a high order.” (London Gazette 29/2/1943 page 540)

(1) Flight Lieutenant Kervyn Charles Beeton DFC (407162) was discharged from the RAAF on 28 May 1946.

On the 17th May 1943, Sunderland DW4004 took off from RAF Mount Batten at 0517 hours detailed to carry out an anti-submarine patrol in an area bounded by positions 48N 40W, 47.20N, 11.40W and 45.30N 0910W and 47.50N 08.50W. Nothing was heard from the aircraft which failed to return to base.

The crew members of DW4004 were:

Flying Officer Robert George Bowley DFC (416015) (Navigator)
Flying Officer Victor James Corless (401913) (Navigator Under Training)
Sergeant Terence Henry Doran (20388) (Fitter 11E)
Sergeant Jack Hamilton Hogg (32834) (Flight Engineer)
Warrant Officer John Edward Jackson (405209) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer John Colwyn Kelly (407986) (Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Keith McKenzie (408662) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer Norman James McLeod (207727) (Second Pilot)
Leading Aircraftman James Murdoch (21704) (Fitter 11A)
Squadron Leader Thomas Wylie Patrick (1761) (Armament Officer / Armourer)
Sergeant James Andrew Pearce (27195) (Wireless Maintenance Mechanic)
Flying Officer Kenneth Lovett Ridings (416613) (First Pilot)

Wing Commander Geoff Hartnell (1) (Commanding Officer No. 10 Squadron) noted in his diary on that day: ‘McKenzie was shot down by Ju.88s in the Bay; we think about 0830. We didn’t know about it until he was overdue because he didn’t send out any messages. Reg Marks (Flight Commander) (2) went out looking for him at night but didn’t find any trace. The ’88s have been a bit active of late and Mac was about the fourth or fifth in a couple of days’.

(1) Air Vice Marshal Geoffrey Clarke Hartnell CBE was discharged from the RAAF on 17 April 1968.
(2) Wing Commander Reginald William Marks (477) was discharged from the RAAF on 21 June 1946.

Extract from Baff, K.C (Kevin), Maritime is Number Ten, K.C. Baff Netley SA, 1983 – Page 279.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/9/149
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line


Ashworth, N. (Norman) The ANZAC Squadron: A history of No. 461 Squadron RAAF 1942-5, Hesperian Press Victoria Park WA 6100, 1994
Joubert, P.B. (Sir Phillip Bennet) Birds and Fishes: the story of Coastal Command, Hutchinson and Company London, 1960
Southall, I.F. (Ivan Francis) (418900) They Shall Not Pass Unseen, Angus and Robertson Sydney NSW, 1956
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Anson, Hudson and Sunderland in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1992

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