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The Airmen's Stories - F/O B H Bowring


Benjamin Harvey Bowring was born on 9th February 1918 and educated at Uppingham School. He learned to fly at the Brooklands Flying Club in 1937. He joined 600 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in 1938 and was commissioned in July.

Called to full-time service on 24th August 1939, he served with 600 Squadron until 24th August 1940 when he was posted to 111 Squadron at Debden.

He had married Marian Menzies at St. Johns Church, Camberley on 18th June 1940.



On 30th August he damaged a Me110, on the 31st probably destroyed a Me110 and damaged another, on 2nd September he probably destroyed a He111 and damaged a Me110, on the 4th destroyed a Me109, on the 5th destroyed a Me109, probably destroyed another and damaged a third and on the 6th destroyed a Ju88.

Bowring was wounded in the arm on the 6th and did not return to the squadron until 24th October.

He was shot down in early November and admitted to hospital, wounded.

After recovery, he joined 260 Squadron at Skitten on 7th December 1940, recently-reformed at Castletown, as 'B' Flight Commander.

In May 1941 the squadron embarked on the carrier HMS Victorious. At Gibraltar it transferred on to HMS Ark Royal and on 14th June flew off to Malta. After refuelling, it went on to Egypt and eventually arrived in Haifa to take part in the Syrian campaign.

Bowring served with the squadron detachment at Beirut. He returned to the UK in October 1941 and was posted to an Armament Officer's course.

He later took command of 278 (ASR) Squadron at Coltishall. Bowring led the squadron until its disbandment in September 1945. By that time it had rescued 998 men from the sea.

Bowring was released in 1945 as a Squadron Leader and joined Lloyds as an aviation insurance underwriter.

He was a member of the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club, founders of the Cresta Run, and also raced at Brooklands in a Jaguar.

Bowring died on 14th August 1994.


On 14th June 1952 Bowring was one of seven passengers on Airspeed AS.65 Consul G-AHFT on a charter flight from Croydon to Le Mans in France to visit the 24-hour motor race.

The flight was without incident until shortly after crossing the English coast in the vicinity of Brighton at about 0855. The starboard engine gave one or two bangs which the pilot thought might be due to carburretor icing. The engine quickly recovered, however, and the flight proceeded. At about 0915 the starboard engine again began to cough. This time it did not recover.

The aircraft was then twenty-two nautical miles from the nearest aerodrome, namely Le Havre on the French coast while the nearest English aerodrome was Shoreham, fifty-seven nautical miles in the opposite direction. The pilot elected to turn back to the English coast and made a 180 degrees turn to port. The aircraft continuously lost height and finally ditched twelve miles south of Brighton at 0949 Local Time. All eight personnel were able to leave the aircraft without injury but the few lifebelts were faulty. Two hours later a passing ship, the ss 'American Miller' came upon the scene by which time there were only two survivors, Bowring and Ian Duncan Chisholm.

Lost were Lawrence Page (pilot), Richard Kingdon, Robert Armstrong, Mr. & Mrs. Pritchard, Mr. Robin.

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