The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. N J Mowat
Noel Joseph Mowat was born on 18th September 1914 at Clydevale, Otago, New Zealand and was educated at St. Kevins College, Oamaru. He went to work on his father's farm and later was employed by the Public Works Department on survey and construction work.
In April 1938 Mowat applied for a RAF short service commission, was accepted and sailed for the UK on 19th November in the RMS Rangitiki. On the day following his arrival he went to 9 E&RFTS Ansty as a pupil pilot. Mowat was posted to 10 FTS Tern Hill on 4th March 1939, completed his training at 6 FTS Little Rissington and on 6th November joined 245 Squadron, then forming at Leconfield.
Above: 607 Squadron, thought to be at at Manston
L to R: P/O EJ Staerck, Sgt. EAS Parris, WD James, Mowat, Davis, F/Lt. R Hedderwick
Mowat was made a Flight Commander on 18th April 1940. Near Dunkirk on 1st June 1940 he probably destroyed a Me109. The squadron made a successful low-level attack on the airfield at Rouen-Boos on 20th June and Mowat led the second section of three Hurricanes. Considerable damage was done to the fifty aircraft on the ground.
He received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 1st January 1941).
On 17th March 1941 Mowat was posted to 607 Squadron at Drem as a Flight Commander. He was given command of the squadron on 3rd December. He led 607 in the operations against the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on 12th February 1942 and was personally responsible for the destruction of a vessel in the convoy.
Mowat was awarded the DSO (gazetted 16th March 1942).
On 21st March the squadron sailed from Liverpool in the Empress of Russia for India and by 20th June was at Alipore, taking delivery of Hurricane IIc's. In mid-July it moved to Jessore, Burma to begin operations against the Japanese along the Irrawaddy. On 1st October 1942 Mowat was posted to lead 166 Wing at Chittagong but again took command of 607 on 5th March 1943. In April he was posted away and began a series of staff jobs.
Mowat served at Air HQ Bengal, 3rd TAF Air Command South East Asia, Air HQ India and Base HQ Bombay. He returned to the UK in August 1944 and went to the Fighter Leaders School at Milfield. On 2nd December Mowat was appointed Station Commander at RAF Peterhead. After a further series of staff jobs in 1945 he was posted to HQ 2nd TAF on 1st April 1946 and on 24th June he was given command of 4 Squadron at Gutersloh, Germany.
On 7th November 1946 he was a passenger in Anson C Mk.19 TX175 of No. 2 Group Communication Squadron which crashed near Hamm in Germany after hitting two chimneys whilst low flying in bad weather on a flight from Gutersloh to the UK. The crew and passengers were all killed:
F/Lt. MR Harwood RNZAF
F/O CK Allan
F/O JA Butler
F/O AS Pinnion
F/Sgt. GWH Barkham
Cpl. A MacDonald
Mowat is buried in Munster Heath War Cemetery.
Above image courtesy of New Zealand War Graves Project