Remembered by: Isabel Barrett
Date added: 22 Dec 2010
Sergeant Reginald H Bowers
These photos are possibly the last ever taken of Sgt Reginald H Bowers (aka Curly and Reg), Flight Engineer with Halifax JB794 of 102 Squadron. Mike Bowers; Reg’s younger brother, was only 6 years old when Reg died and it was having bought a book many years later called “From Hell, Hull and Halifax” by Chris Blanchett, that Mike came across these photo’s of his brother. Mike wrote to the author and publishers requesting information and they kindly gave him all the details. He obtained further information from RAF Records at RAF Innsworth, also from the Air Historical Branch (RAF), and Imperial War Museum.
Reg took part in many raids with 102 Sqn, including those on Dusseldorf, Essen, Wuppertal, Bochum, Le Creusot and Cologne. The first picture; circa August 1943, shows the crew who had made 15 trips in the Halifax Bomber aka “G for George” about to leave on the bomber’s 41st raid. Left to right, back row, Sgt J.H Chatterton, London, Second Pilot. Sgt J.H McEwan, Worcester, Mid-Upper Gunner. FS A.E Storey, Macclesfield, Captain. Sgt R. Bowers (19), Tewkesbury, Engineer. Sgt H.D Chappell, Bristol, Bombardier. Sgt T. Lawman, Cumberland, Rear Gunner. Front row, left to right, Sgt W.C Poulter, London, Navigator. Sgt F.R Newman, Basingstoke, Wireless Operator.
The second picture; dated 19thJune 1943, shows Reg (back, third from left), Air commodore Gus Walker, DSO, DFC, a well known international rugby player and the youngest Air Commodore in the RAF (second from left) discussing the raid at Le Creusot with Squadron leader J E M Marshall, DFC (first left) and wing commander H R Coventry, second from right.
Reg’s final journey and that of his crew mates aboard Halifax JB794 is confirmed in a letter to Mike from the Ministry of Defence as below (although the exact reasons for the failure of the bombers engine remain un-confirmed as Reg’s family had previously understood that the damage was caused by anti-aircraft fire):
“On the night of 10 August 1943, Sgt Bowers was the Flight Engineer on Halifax JB794 of 102 Sqn. The aircraft had taken off, but, after approximately 50 minutes flying time the port outer engine failed, the pilot jettisoned the bomb load and turned back to base. Whilst making a normal three engine approach to land, the aircraft came in too low and the port wheel struck the roof of a house approximately 400 yards from the runway in use. The aircraft partially disintegrated and crashed 60 yards from the house.
In addition to Sgt Bowers, Flt Sgt A E Storey 1145662 (Pilot) and Sgt F R Newman 1266270 (WOP/AG) also lost their lives. Sergeant Bowers was buried in the Barmby Moor Parish Cemetery, Yorkshire.
Other members of the crew were as follows:
Flt Sgt W C A Poulter 1386631 Navigator
Sgt J H T McEwan 1579041 Air Gunner
Sgt T Lawman 1028987 Air Gunner
Sgt W M McArter R129442 Bomb Aimer”
The final entry into Reg’s RAF Diary reads as follows:
“ A/C. Reg. No. JB 794. Crashed, 23.35 (hrs) 10/08/43. Died 03.55 (hrs) 11/08/43 York Military Hospital. Aged 19.”