The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. L D Bowman
Leonard Douglas Bowman was born in Camberwell, London on 19th October 1917, the youngest of ten children. One brother was killed in France and the other volunteered for the RFC and qualified as a pilot.
Bowman enlisted in the RAFVR at No. 2 RAF Depot Cardington in September 1939. He was accepted as an Air Gunner and went for a three week gunnery course at No. 1 AAS Manby from 7th July 1940 after which he joined 141 Squadron at Grangemouth on 8th August.
When the squadron converted to Beaufighters in August 1941 Bowman was posted to 410 (RCAF) Squadron on the 7th, recently formed at Ayr with Defiants.
He went on a Gunnery Leaders Course on 17th April 1942, after which he joined 159 Squadron on 10th May. The squadron flew its Liberators to the Middle East, where it carried out long-range daylight raids.
Bowman also served with 160 Squadron, which was later absorbed into 178 Squadron.
Whilst with 178, he was awarded the DFM (gazetted 27th April 1943). The citation read:
This airman has participated in numerous operational sorties including 8 daylight attacks on well defended targets. On one occasion in September 1942, while taking part in a shipping strike, his aircraft was intercepted by an enemy fighter and damaged. The mid-upper turret ws disabled and the beam gunner wounded. Flight Sergeant Bowman continued to fire from the rear turret until his guns also were put out of action. On another occasion the formation in which Flight Sergeant Bowman was flying was subjected to nine attacks by enemy fighters. His coolness and the accuracy of his fire helped in the destruction of at least one enemy aircraft. This airman has invariably displayed great gallantry, coolness and determination.
Bowman had flown many operational sorties, including eight daylight attacks on targets in the Middle East. He returned to the UK in 1943 and instructed for a while at RAF Jurby, Isle of Man.
Back in the Middle East, Bowman served with 31 (SAAF) Squadron on Liberators. Commissioned in April 1944, he went to Southern Rhodesia and instructed at Moffat.
Bowman returned to the UK in 1945, spent some time as Adjutant at Boreham, near Chelmsford and was released in November 1945 as a Flying Officer.
He died on 4th July 1995.