Harlow Wilbur "Bud" Bowker

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Canadian Fliers Get 50th Victim

London, July 20, 1943 - (CP) - The 1st Canadian Fighter Squadron in Britain marked up its 50th destroyed German aircraft in a sweep over occupied Western Europe yesterday, it was announced today.
F/L Ian Ormston, D.F.C., of Montreal; F/O R. K. Hayward of St. John's, Nfld., and Sgts. K. B. Woodhouse of Prince Albert, Sask., and D. M. Wilson of Regina, shared the kill.
F/S  H. W. Bowker of Granby, Que., a train-busting ace, scored a probable.


Harlow Wilbur Bowker - RCAF - J/18734.
Born in Granby Quebec, 25 July 1922.
Son of Harlow Wilbur Bowker & Sarah Caroline Sayles Bowker.
Married in 1941 to Lillian Ruby Wickens Bowker.
Enlisted in April 1941 while still at Granby High School.
A letter of recommendation dated 4 March 1941, from the principal
of the school asks that the RCAF not take him until he graduates in
June as it "would be in the boys best interest." The RCAF did not
take his advice and accepted him immediately.
Trained at:
No.1 MD, Toronto, 21 April 1941 to 15 May 1941.
No.3 ITS, Victoriaville, 16 May 1941 to 3 July 1941 (Course #43).
No.11 EFTS, Cap-de-la-Madeleine, 3 July '41 to 13 Sept. '41 (#34) &
No.8 SFTS, Moncton, 13 September 1941 to 5 Dec. 1941 (#41)[1].
Got wings and promoted to Sergeant.
To No.1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, 7 December 1941.
RAF Trainers Pool, 31 January 1942.
No.3 "Y" Depot, Debert, Nova Scotia, 12 January 1942.
Disembarked for the UK, 19 February 1942.
No.3 PRC, 20 February 1942.
Attached to No.43 Army Division 13 to 25 April 1942.
To No.9 AFU, 12 May 1942.
To 53 OTU, 9 June 1942.
Attached to ACRS, 4 September 1942.
To 412 Squadron 6 December 1942.
Wounded in Action 12 November 1943 & hospitalized.
Rested at 410 R&SU, 16 February 1944 to 24 May 1944 &
Returned to 412 Squadron.
Moved with 412 Squadron to France, 18 June 1944.
KIA, 2 July '44, 20 m. SE of Caen, Fr., when he was last seen diving
into a cloud-bank chasing a long-nosed FW-190. Chris Shores states
there appears to be no Luftwaffe claims for this engagement.
Buried at the BAYEUX WAR CEMETERY Calvados, France.

[1] While at 8 SFTS it was written - "Is a smooth pilot, confident,
perhaps too confident. Will experience no difficulty on service
aircraft but should be watched for lapses such as inattention to
detail in cockpit procedure, etc. and overconfidence."
"Showed poor cooperation throughout the course. Was charged
twice for being A.W.L. and was generally in trouble throughout the
course, but it is considered that he has at last found out that he
cannot buck the Air Force."



London, October 3, 1943 - (CP) - Hitting hard at Hitler's Western European aerial defenses, Fighter Command aircraft shot down 24 enemy fighters over occupied territory today, with Canadian aces bagging nine of the total.
Flt. Sgt. H. W. Bowker of Granby, Que., and F/O Art Coles of Vancouver led the Canadians by blasting two Germans each. Others fell to S/L R. W. McNair of North Battleford, who got his 16th victim in leading the Canadian Red Indian Squadron, W/C L. V. Chadburn of Aurora, F/O W. G. Dodd of Winnipeg, F/O Frank Packard of Montreal, and P/O John Hicks of Ottawa.
The Canadians, providing a strong escort for day-long bombing raids, met and bested the Nazis in a series of heavy dogfights in which, as S/L G. E. W. Northcott of Minnedosa, Man., commented, "The Jerries were in a scrapping mood for once." Two Canadian planes were lost.

Scattered 28 ME-109's
The biggest fight involved the City of Winnipeg and City of Oshawa Squadrons which ran into 30 Messerschmitt 109's and scattered them after 20 minutes when Chadburn and Dodd sent two German planes down to earth spiraling smoke.
Coles, former Dominion downhill ski champion, destroyed two Focke-Wulf 190's in separate engagements, blowing the wing off one. Packard's victory, his first, was scored by riddling his foe at the top of two barrel rolls the German made before Packard's Spitfire. Bowker's pair came in a scrap between his squadron and 15 Focke-Wulf 190's near the French coast.
Besides McNair's victim the Red Indian squadron shot down two other planes—making a total of three of the seven Nazis destroyed by fighters escorting bombers on the Holland airfields attack. McNair's engine gave out as the enemy went down, and as McNair attempted to glide over the Channel he dropped 9,000 feet before the engine started again. This was the third time he experienced trouble. Once he glided home all the way from France after the engine failed, and another time he was forced to bail out over the English Channel.


Big Blows Delivered Against Kassel and Frankfurt By Allies
R.A.F. and Canadians Lose 28 Bombers in Assault Made During Night

London, Oct. 4, 1943 — (CP) — R.A.F. and Canadian heavy bombers hit Kassel, 91 miles northeast of Frankfurt, last night in the fourth big blow in six months against that manufacturing center for Nazi fighter planes, locomotives and other important war machines, it was announced today.
Aircraft from the Canadian bomber group were out in considerable numbers. The assault was officially described as heavy. It cost 24 bombers.
Four of the missing bombers were Canadian. The R.C.A.F. participation in the raid was by Halifax bombers and their crews reported the bombing was well concentrated with many large fires started. At the same time Canadian Mosquitoes made intruder patrols over northern France and the Low Countries, without loss.
Today in daylight, American heavy bombers supported by long-range fighters swept into Germany and attacked targets in Frankfurt, which is 91 miles southwest of Kassel.
Today's raid by the American bombers and their escorts was the first daylight attack of the war on Frankfurt.

Split Enemy Defences
The twin blows followed the now-familiar Allied strategy of splitting the German defences, as the cities lie less than 100 miles apart, one east of the Ruhr and the other southeast.
While the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. heavy bombers were delivering last night's major raid, light Mosquitoes dropped explosives on Hanover, 160 miles west of Berlin, in the second blow at that industrial city in six days. It was raided in force by the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. on September 27.
Three enemy patrol boats in the Bordeaux area were damaged, mines were scattered through enemy shipping lanes and a Junkers-88 was shot down by still other Mosquitoes ranging the French Channel coast.
Five hundred tons of bombs were dropped Saturday night on Munich, the Nazi party's birthplace and a main supply outlet from southern Germany into Italy. The industrial city of Hagen was attacked Friday night.
The British-Canadian smash at Munich highlighted the obvious Allied intention to subject all of Germany to a two-directional air offensive from Britain and eventually from Italy—for it followed by less than 48 hours the first American heavy bomber raid on the same city from northwest African bases.
The American attack on Munich was carried out in daylight Friday simultaneously with, a similar raid on a Messerschmitt factory at Wiener-Neustadt, near Vienna. A communiqué announced significantly that both formations had been transferred recently to the Northwest African Air Command from Britain and the Middle East.
Heavy bombers, escorted by fighters, smashed at northwestern Germany by daylight Saturday and attacked port installations at Emden. Then, rounding out the week-end offensive, R.A.F. and Allied medium bombers swept out in daylight yesterday and attacked enemy airfields and other installations in France and Holland.
Besides battering airfields, these armadas bit another chunk from Hitler's western European aerial defences as escorting fighters knocked down 24 enemy planes, of which nine fell to Canadians. An Air Ministry official said this was the greatest number ever destroyed by the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. in one day's offensive over enemy territory.
Top scorers in the weekend scrambles were Flt. Sgt. H. W. Bowker, of Granby, Que., and F/O Art Coles, of Vancouver, who got two Germans each. Others were credited to S/L R.W. (Buck) McNair, of North Battleford, Sask., who hung up his 16th victory; W/C L.V. Chadburn, of Aurora, Ont.; F/O W.G. Dodd, of Winnipeg; F/O Frank Packard, of Montreal, and P/O John Hicks of Ottawa.
German fighters were out in force to combat the heavy weekend blows and put up some heavy dogfights. Summing it up, S/L G.E.W. Northcott, of Minnedosa, Man., said, "The Jerries were in a scrapping mood for once."
Two Canadian planes were lost of a total Allied loss of 11.


Bud Bowker
Bud Bowker in the cockpit of a freshly checked out Spit. Yep, worked just fine!

Canadian Pilots Blow Up Trains, Destroy 5 Germans in 5 Minutes

With a Canadian Fighter Wing in Britain, May 22, 1944 - (CP) - Piling the Canadian score higher all through the day in the sustained, aerial offensive, pilots of the City of Oshawa Spitfire Squadron late today added five more trains damaged to their earlier bag of five enemy planes destroyed and six enemy trains shot up in a foray over the Cherbourg Peninsula.
Their bag of 11 trains today raised to 24 the number they have attacked since yesterday morning and gave Canadian squadrons operating from this British 2nd Tactical Air Force airfield a total of 31 trains shot up in the same period.
The Canadians' total bag of planes for the day was brought to seven by F/O Bud Bowker of Granby, Que., who shot two FW190's into the English Channel while on a gun-testing flight in a Spitfire. Putting in his operational rest period between tours as a pilot with a Canadian repair and salvage unit, Bowker took off from this base today to test the guns of a Spitfire. He bumped into two Focke-Wulf 190's over the English Channel and sent them both crashing into the sea.
It was the first time this stocky flier, who had been "getting so darn sick of doing nothing," had taken off with guns loaded since he came off operations last February. The double victory brought his score to seven enemy aircraft destroyed.
Standing beside a mobile hangar around which Spitfires were being overhauled, Bowker, in battle dress and wearing flying boots, pushed his cap back on his head and told the story of his victory, achieved in a matter of seconds.
He was flying in the direction of St. Valerie and about a quarter of the way across the Channel he sighted the FW190's, flying in line abreast in a northeasterly direction.

Were Carrying Bombs, Rockets
Bowker said the enemy planes were carrying bombs or rockets.
"I crawled up behind them and went after one and they broke toward the French coast," he related. “I let one have a 20-degree shot and he blew up. The exploding aircraft swerved to one side and the other just barely bounced off it, went up 100 feet and then crashed into the sea.”
Today's Canadian successes were achieved without loss.
The third sortie of the day against enemy transport in France was led by S/L Freddie Green, D.F.C., Toronto, who took five of his pilots into attacks against four freight trains and a petrol train.
The locomotive of the petrol train was left with steam pouring from it and two oil cars blazing.
A section of the Red Indian squadron under S/L Walter Conrad, D.F.C., of Richmond, Ont., attacked two trains 20 miles west of Paris just before dusk tonight.
One was a troop train and the Red Indians gave it a double dose of cannon and machine-gun fire, flying in through heavy ack-ack to deliver their blow.
The bag of five enemy planes to pilots of the City of Oshawa squadron came in a five-minute combat in the Rouen sector of France when the Canadians were returning from a train busting foray northwest of Paris.
Six planes of the squadron met an equal number of Germans and the Dominion fliers attacked despite the fact their ammunition was dangerously low. Three of the German planes were downed in 10 seconds.
Pilots who each downed an FW190 were F/L R. D. Forbes-Roberts of Vancouver, leader of a section; F/L G. R. Paterson of Kelowna, B.C., and F/O W. H. Palmer of Kamloops and Salmon Arm, B.C.
F/Ls W. F. Mason of Smiths Falls, and A. R. McFadden of Springdale, Alta., each downed a Messerschmitt 109.

Fired Compressed Air
Mason's victory over his Messerschmitt victim came after he had expended all his ammunition, shooting up trains. He got on the German's tail, followed him close to the ground and the Jerry, apparently excited, flipped his machine over in evasive action and plunged into the ground. All Mason did, he said, was fire a couple of rounds of "compressed air" from his empty guns.
F/O Palmer had a close call. He was only 20 yards behind his German victim when the Nazi exploded and debris whistled around Palmer's cockpit but did no harm.
F/O G. A. Borland of Guelph was also in this action but went scoreless because he chose to protect the tail of F/L McFadden. Borland already has five German planes to his credit from previous, actions.


Bowkers' Combat Report for the Double Victory Reported Above

"At 700 feet, south of Selsey Bill, I sighted two FW-190s on bearing of 250-260 degrees magnetic at literally zero feet, below and slightly in front. I dived and turned starboard to 300 yards astern. The e/a were flying in very close formation, line abreast. They pulled up to about 30 feet and turned slowly to port, closing in even more. I fired a long burst with 15 degrees deflection, hitting port wing of port aircraft, midway along, where a bulge which I thought to be a bomb, rocket or tank, had previously been observed. An explosion occurred and the aircraft was blown to starboard with right wing down. The second aircraft flew into the first, which exploded and hit the deck. I expended the remainder of my ammunition on the second which had a buckled port mainplane and fuselage. Two strikes were observed — on tail and starboard wing tip. Aircraft was now out of control and hit the deck almost vertically. I orbited position and gave fixes, but saw only a few pieces of wreckage."


And some additional info regarding this last double claim and the two photos that go with it -

“My name is David Johnson. My father's regiment was the 410 RSU of the RCAF. He was an airframe mechanic on the Spitfire during WWII. Sadly, he passed away last year but I have his photo album with pictures from the war. In this photo album are these two pictures.

Dad told me that this pilot was just testing this plane and he didn't even know if it was armed when he took off. He happened to run into two German Focke-Wulf 190's and shot them both down. Dad said when the pilot landed he told the story of what had happened and that is when this photo was taken.

He also told me a story about a day when all the men were ordered to stand at attention out on the airfield and no one could figure out what was going on. All of a sudden, this small plane lands on the airfield in front of them. The pilot comes out of the plane and sets a wooden box on the ground for the passenger to step down on. Out steps none other than Winston Churchill. He gives them all a pep talk, shakes their hands, steps back on the plane and takes off.

I was wondering if there are any records of this or pictures that anyone may know of. I have searched the internet with no luck and I was hoping there was maybe someone still alive that was there and remembers this as well.”

Anyone ?


Air Force Casualties

Ottawa, Aug. 7, 1944 — The Department of National Defense for Air today issued casualty list No. 955 of the Royal Canadian Air Force, showing next of kin of those named. Men from Ontario include :

BAMFORD, Jack, F/O. Mrs. Jack Bamford (wife), 158 Cameron Ave., Hamilton.
BOWKER, Harlow Wilbur, F/O, Granby, Que.


Victories Include :

19 July 1943
3 Oct 1943
12 Nov 1943

22 May 1944


destroyed &
damaged OTG

412 sqn.
412 sqn.

412 sqn.

410 RSU

4 / 1 / 0

+ 1 / 0 / 1  On The Ground


Letter to Bud's Wife

Dear Mrs. Bowker,
Before you receive this letter, you will have had a telegram informing you that your husband, F/O H.W. Booker, has been reported missing as the result of air operations.
On the morning of the 2nd July, 1944, Bud took off with the Squadron to cover other aircraft that were dive bombing targets behind the enemy lines.
A number of enemy aircraft were encountered and the entire squadron engaged them. In the combat that followed, your husband was seen chasing an enemy aircraft which was diving toward cloud. I was unable to contact Bud by radio and, unfortunately, this was the last chat was seen of your husband.
The squadron lost an excellent pilot and a very good friend when your husband did not return. Bud was very popular amongst his fellow pilots and admired for his Keenness and ability as a fighter pilot.
As you can see from the little information we have regarding your husband's disappearance, there is always the possibility that he may be a prisoner-of-war, in which case you will either hear from him direct or through Air Ministry, who will receive advice from the International Red Cross Society.
It is desired to explain that the request in the telegram notifying you of the casualty to your husband, was included with the object of avoiding his chance of escape being prejudiced by undue publicity in case he was still at large. This is not to say that any information about him is available, but is a precaution adopted in the case of all personnel reported missing.
Your husband's effects have been gathered together and forwarded to the Royal Air Force Central Depository, where they will be held until better news is received, or in any event, for a period of at least six months before being turned over to the administrator of Estates, Ottawa, for action re their disposition.
May I now, on behalf of my entire squadron, express the great sympathy which all of us feel with you in your great anxiety, and I should like to assure you how greatly we all honour the unselfish sacrifice your husband has made.
If there is any further information I can give you, please do not hesitated to communicate with me.

Sincerely yours,
(J. Sheppard) Squadron Leader,
Officer Commanding,
No.412 Squadron, RCAF




Thanks to David Johnson for the photos & infos !

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