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Air Marshal Sir Leslie Bower (26130)

Sir Leslie William Clement BowerLeslie William Clement                        

b: 11 Jul 1909                       r: 30 Mar 1965                     d: 17 Feb 1991

KCB – 2 Jun 1962 (CB – 1 Jan 1954), DSO – 22 Jun 1945, DFC – 22 Feb 1944, MiD - 11 Jun 1942, MiD - 14 Jun 1945.  

Plt Off: 14 Dec 1929, Fg Off: 14 Jun 1931, Flt Lt: 14 Jun 1935, Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1938, (T)Wg Cdr: 1 Dec 1940, Act Gp Capt: 17 May 1942?, Wg Cdr (WS): 17 Nov 1942, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1943, Wg Cdr: 1 Oct 1946, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1947, Act A/Cdre: xx xxx xxxx, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1952, Act AVM: xx xxx xxxx, AVM: 1 Jan 1955, Act AM (unpd): 8 Feb 1962, Act AM (pd): 1 May 1962, AM: 1 May 1962 (announced 1 Jul 1962).

Sir Leslie William Clement Bower

by Walter Bird
bromide print, 1 May 1962
NPG x165400

© National Portrait Gallery, London


12 Jan 1928:            Flight Cadet, 'B' Sqn, RAF College.

14 Dec 1929:          Appointed to Permanent Commission.

14 Dec 1929:           Pilot, No 100 Sqn.

 9 Nov 1930:            Pilot, No 33 Sqn.

3 Jan – 12 Feb 1931:   Placed on half pay list, scale B

14 Feb 1931:            Pilotage (navigation) officer, No 11 Sqn.

23 Apr 1933:            Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

xx Aug 1933:            Attended Central Flying School.

18 Nov 1933:           QFI, Cambridge University Air Sqn.

18 May 1934:           Re-categorised as an Instructor from B to A2

26 Nov 1934:           Instructor, CFS.

xx Jul 1936:              Re-categorised from Instructor A2 to Instructor A1

30 Mar 1937:           Pilot, No 202 Sqn. (arrived 7 Apr 1937)

13 Oct 1938:            Senior Personnel Staff Officer, HQ RAF Mediterranean.

11 Nov 1940:           Supernumerary, RAF Felixstowe

18 Nov 1940:           Officer Commanding, RAF Felixstowe

xx Mar 1941:            Officer Commanding, No 217 Sqn.

28 Jan 1942:             Air Staff, HQ No 16 Group.

17 May 1942?:         Director - Operational Training, HQ RCAF.

 8 Dec 1943:            Officer Commanding, No 138 Wing

25 Jun 1945:            ?

 9 Aug 1945:            Attended RAF Staff College.

xx xxx 1947:            Attended/Instructor?, USAF War College.

 1 Jan 1952:             AOC, No 81 Group.

 8 Mar 1954:            SASO, HQ Fighter Command.

25 Feb 1957:           SASO, HQ MEAF

xx xxx 1958:            Deputy C in C, MEAF.

 1 May 1959:           AOC, No 19 Group.  

 8 Feb 1962:            UK Permanent Military Deputy (Designate), CENTO

10 May 1962:          UK Permanent Military Deputy, CENTO.

Born in County Cork in the Ireland, he attended The Harvey Grammar School in Folkestone before entering the RAF College in 1928, which he represented at both Soccer and Hockey.

Appointed CO of No 138 Wing prior to D-Day, he continued to lead his crews from the front, such as on 30 July 1944 when, with his Group Commander (AVM Basil Embry) flying as his No. 2, he led five other Mosquitos of his Wing in a precision attack against a chateau on the River Aulne, being used as a rest home for U-boat crews.   These operations were not without their risks and on 6 February 1944 his aircraft was hit by flak, but he managed to nurse it across the channel to a crash landing near Newhaven.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Group Captain Leslie William Clement BOWER (26130), Royal Air Force.

This officer has completed numerous sorties and has invariably displayed leadership and skill of a high order.  His determination to complete his tasks successfully has always been evident and was well illustrated during a recent sortie.  Before reaching the target his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire but he went on to complete his attack.  On the return flight the aircraft was again hit by fire from the ground defences.  Much damage was sustained, including one engine which was put out of action. Group Captain Bower displayed great skill in his endeavour to reach home but, just before the English coast was reached the damaged engine burst into flames. Group Captain Bower crossed-the coast, however, but was compelled to make a landing in difficult circumstances.  As the aircraft touched down it became enveloped in flames and a petrol tank burst.  Group Captain Bower was rendered unconscious but was dragged clear by a comrade.  This officer displayed great courage and resolution throughout.”

(London Gazette – 22 February 1944)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

“Group Captain Leslie William Clement BOWER, D.F.C., R.A.F.

This officer has set a magnificent example of courage and devotion to duty in operations against the enemy.  He has commanded the squadrons at his station for a considerable time and much of the success achieved during the period can be attributed to Group Captain Bower's high powers of leadership, unsurpassed skill and iron determination.  His services have been of immense value”

(London Gazette – 22 June 1945)

This page was last updated on 29/10/22

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