FIRST HAND HISTORY: A Visit From Mr Bowen
On the 16th March 17, MoD St Athan received a visit from Mr Elwyn Bowen who is 103 yrs old; an extraordinary gentleman with an extraordinary memory.
Mr Bowen was born in 1913 and attended Narberth Grammar School after which he joined the Merchant Navy. Whilst docked in London he saw a recruitment poster for the Royal Air Force which led him to return to his ship and tell the Captain “I’m not coming back, I’m joining the RAF”.
A short while after his announcement, he completed his initial training at RAF Uxbridge and was posted to the 16 Army Co-operation Squadron at Old Sarum, Salisbury, as a Steward due to his past Navy experience. Mr Bowen had set his sights elsewhere and he decided to re-muster to the RAF Police, completing his training at RAF Halton. He passed his 2FTS at RAF Digby and was kitted up at RAF Cranwell before being posted to Baghdad.
His journey took him by ocean liner, the ‘Camronia’ from Birkenhead to Port Sudan. Once in Sudan he was responsible for the security of aircraft that arrived by sea in packing crates. He was then sent to Jerusalem (1 of only 3 RAF Police) where he took on the duty of personal escort, or bodyguard, to AVM Pearce. During his time in the Middle East he was also responsible for the movement of aircraft and troops by rail to Jerusalem; he has fond memories of the 3 Christmas’ he spent in this “amazing city”.
At the age of 22 he took his Sergeant’s exam and on receipt of his successful results he decided to once again re-muster but this time to Technician. In 1939 he was promoted to FS and posted to No 4 Wing at RAF St Athan, later posted and promoted to WO on No 3 Wing. He ended his RAF career in 1945/46, during his time he also served in HQ Germany, RAF Aston Down, RAF Thurxon and Lasham.
It was both an honour and a privilege to host Mr Bowen on his visit to MoD St Athan; able to recite times, dates and locations throughout his remarkable RAF career it was clear that he had a thoroughly enjoyable service career as he continues to be an ambassador for the Royal Air Force to this day.
Sergeant ‘Wyn’ Davies