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Bowden, William Ellis (Flight Lieutenant)

Prisoner of War Japan 1941-12-08

Male Head

Birth Date: 1918-10-18 (age 23)

Son of Mr and Mrs George S Bowden, nephew of Isabel Bowden of Ottawa and Jack Bowden of Montreal.

Home: Ottawa, Ontario

60 Sqn- Squadron (RAF)
Per Ardua Ad Aethera Tendo (I strive through difficulties to the sky)
Kuantan airfield
Flight Lieutenant
Air Chief MarshalA/C/M
Air MarshalA/M
Air Vice MarshalA/V/M
Air CommodoreA/C
Group CaptainG/C
Wing CommanderW/C
Squadron LeaderS/L
Flight LieutenantF/L
Flying OfficerF/O
Pilot OfficerP/O
Warrant Officer 1st ClassWO1
Warrant Officer 2nd ClassWO2
Flight SergeantFS
Senior AircraftmanSAC
Leading AircraftmanLAC
Aircraftman 1st ClassAC1
Aircraftman 2nd ClassAC2
Service Numbers

F/L William Ellis Bowden (RAF)(Can) s/n 40502 was with 60 Squadron and was shot down while flying a Blenheim Bomber (L4913) over the Gulf of Siam. His plane had departed Kuantan Airfield on the morning of 8 Dec 1941 at 0630 to attack Japanese shipping at Kota Bharu. His plane was hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire and, in his attempt to crash land at sea, the plane disintegrated and Canadian-born Bowden was the sole survivor. He clung to the plane's tailwheel and was finally rescued after 24 hours by a Japanese ship then taken to Tokyo, most likely to Ofuna POW Camp. He had the dubious distinction of being the first Allied airman captured by the Japanese

Before May 15, 1942, he arrived at the Zentsuji POW Camp. We do know that his picture was taken on or before this date at Zentsuji where he remained until late June 1945. He, along with all the British officers, were sent to Tokyo 12D Camp at Mitsushima (Hiraoka) where he was eventually rescued in September 1945

According to Warner's "Blenheim", L4913 "In Bloody Shambles", the a/c is recorded as a Mk IV with Bowden as the only survivor, but with no other crew names) and was shot down whilst attacking landing craft off Kota Bharu, N E Malaya. The pilot, F/Lt W Bowden was taken POW, his crew, P/O WAB Logan (RAAF), and Sgt TL Clarke (RAF) were KIA. Warner gives the date as 8/12/41

F/L Bowden was killed in an aircraft accident on May 29, 1951 in England; details on his life can be found at the Chippenham Cemetery website. Special thanks to John Belcher for this information

General Military

General Aviation safety network

General William Bowden

Bristol Blenheim

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3602838)
Bristol 142M Blenheim Mk.V, RAF (Serial No. DJ702).

The Bristol Blenheim is a British light bomber aircraft designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company (Bristol) which was used extensively in the first two years and in some cases throughout the Second World War. The aircraft was developed as Type 142, a civil airliner, in response to a challenge from Lord Rothermere to produce the fastest commercial aircraft in Europe. The Type 142 first flew in April 1935, and the Air Ministry, impressed by its performance, ordered a modified design as the Type 142M for the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a bomber. Deliveries of the newly named Blenheim to RAF squadrons commenced on 10 March 1937. Wikipedia

YouTube Bristol Blenheim Bomber

Wkikpedia Bristol Blenheim

General Harold A Skaarup Web Page

CASPIR Aircraft Groups:
RCAF On Strength (1), Canadian Aircraft Losses (197)
last update: 2021-10-05 20:09:43

Blenheim Mk. lV L4913

60 Sqn- Squadron (RAF) Per Ardua Ad Aethera Tendo

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