Interview with David Bowker


Interview with David Bowker


David Bowker joined the Air Force and was originally training to be a wireless operator / air gunner but remustered as a pilot. He discusses rudder lock on early versions of Halifax. Jacqueline Bowker his wife, discusses her life during the war and being bombed. Returning from an operation to Frankfurt his aircraft crashed and some of his crew were killed. After this he was posted to a target towing flight and later became an instructor at an Operational Training Unit and a test pilot at at Maintenance Unit. He also discusses a time when an aircraft's dingy deployed in flight jamming his controls.



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00:48:45 Audio File





Temporal Coverage


DB: I’m David Bowker giving this interview and, and these are my, my thoughts. When I was, when I was eighteen in 1940. I went to the recruiting office in Southsea and volunteered for air sea rescue in the RAF because we lived at Alverstoke and we watched the practice, the air force practice dropping torpedoes and they were launching, rescuing the torpedoes. Air sea rescue. But anyway the recruiting office wrote to me and said that it was all full but presumably with elder yachtsmen but I could join, I could still join the navy or the air force or the army just as I wished but I had no, I had no thought, no thought of flying at the time and so I was offered, in the RAF, general duties. Well, of course I had no idea what general duties meant but in actual fact it turned out that if you were fit you were going to fly and the disaster was I was sent to, sent to Cardington and then I had an interview at Cardington and I think he was a sergeant and he said, ‘How do you know you’re eighteen?’ And I said, ‘Well I’m eighteen.’ And he said, ‘Well you don’t look it to me.’ But anyway, I had to, I had to produce my birth certificate to prove that I was eighteen. Anyway, I ended up in the RAF general duties and was sent to, was sent to Blackpool and I found that I was streamed into wireless operator/air gunner. Well, that was the very last thing I wanted to do and so myself and another and a friend at the time we went and saw the officer in charge to ask whether we could re-muster to pilot instead of air gunner and of course we had to, we had to be tested with Morse, Morse code, eighteen words a minute, which was quite fast actually. And anyway, fortunately I passed it and we, and then we started all over again and we were sent to, sent to Stratford on Avon on a pilot’s course and from the receiving wing at Stratford on Avon it was, we were billeted in a disused old hotel which, which was completely derelict and we had to even tear up newspapers to, to use in the lavatory. I can’t, I can’t imagine how primitive it was at the time. But anyway we went from there and we had our meals in the Shakespeare Hotel. Airforce food of course. And from there we had lectures in the Shakespeare Theatre given by, given by a corporal on gas and all sorts of things and from there we, I was posted to Scarborough at the Cambridge Hotel and there again it was, it was very primitive. Still with straw palliases for our, on our beds and we kitted out with flying gear in the Grand Hotel, Scarborough and then, what happened then? I remember we went to a, to a, ah yes we went from Scarborough to Burnaston near, near in Derbyshire which, which was a small, a small aerodrome flying, flying Miles Magisters and we were billeted in, in an old house at Repton School in Repton village and again, again our beds consisted of straw palliases which was very uncomfortable. I was wondering when I was going to get a decent bed. Anyway, we learnt to fly in Miles Magisters and from there, from there we, I was posted to Shawbury flying Airspeed Oxfords and there was an entire, day flying and when we were posted to, for night flying we were, we were posted to Cranwell and in the college complete with batman and then feeding in the college and some night flying and that was very satisfactory. But I remember my first solo night flying. I remember it very well because it was pitch dark and then when I took my eyes off the, off the flying panel I felt the plane immediately started tilting to the left and when I corrected myself with the flying in looking at the instruments although I was straight and level it appeared to be flying to the right. But anyway I soon learned, soon learned to look at the flying panel but I must say I do, I do remember having quite a scary, scary time but we returned to, to, and after having the chief flying instructor’s test I remember we were given some sergeant’s stripes to sew on together with the pilot’s wings which we had to sew on ourselves of course. From there I was posted to an Operational Training Unit flying Wellingtons at Pershore and that took us to -
JB: [whisper] Stop it.
[machine pause]
DB: Ok.
JB: It’s interesting to me David that you’d just qualified as a pilot and was there not some hesitation that you, at your young age, was taking charge of a big aeroplane and a crew who might have been older than you?
DB: Yes. Well, basically they were a year or two older than me.
JB: Yes. Presumably they had to be. So how did you feel about that?
DB: Well, I didn’t have any feelings at the time because it was just how things were.
JB: Well now you’re qualified -
DB: In fact some of the older people, when it came to the exams, the meteorology etcetera, one or two of the older people, because I was younger and only recently left school they asked me as if I, as if I knew better than them.
JB: So, now you had got a crew together who were mixed nationalities?
DB: Well yes. Basically all English. The rear gunner was a New Zealander.
JB: What was your navigator then?
DB: He was an Englishman.
JB: Because on him you rely a lot presumably.
DB: Hmmn?
JB: You rely a lot on a navigator presumably.
DB: Yes one does.
JB: Just turn it off.
MJ: Alright.
DB: In, in retrospect, thinking about it, when I was on the squadron we, we, the pilots we never had any discussion about tactics or anything. We would, before an operation we were briefed about, about where they had anti-aircraft guns and that sort of thing but as, as a pilot we never had any meetings of pilots to discuss, to personally discuss any tactics that we might have. It struck me as being very extraordinary.
MJ: What about crew decisions? Did you, was it, was there decisions between the crew, between yourself and your crew more than the hierarchy?
DB: Well I don’t, it’s extraordinary ‘cause I don’t think we did. Never had any discussion about it.
[Machine pause]
And it was just left, left to ourselves to do what we, we were very rarely told when to bomb or what height to bomb or anything. It was entirely left to us. In 1942 anyway. Maybe, it was a bit different later but it struck me that we, that the flight commander, you know, never had any, any guidance on, on what to do or anything. It really does, it does amaze me. We were just told where the target was and where the, where the flak was on the way out and that sort of thing. We could go our own direction. We hadn’t, we’d know. We weren’t told any fixed thing. We were entirely left to ourselves to get to the target. I mean, in retrospect to me it’s amazing that we had no, no guidance about this but, but on the, when I was on the squadron at 103 we converted to the original Halifaxes and we were sent to Rufforth near York where, where Leonard Cheshire was the squadron leader at the time and the original Halifaxes were absolutely death traps because if the, if the two engines failed on one side and you had to correct it with the rudder normally with an aeroplane you could correct it if the engines failed but with the original Halifaxes the rudder could lock over and there was nothing you could do about it if the thing went into a spin and, and so they were absolutely death traps and the funny thing was although I completed the course and Squadron Leader Cheshire, he demonstrated to me how the rudders locked over by instantly correcting, you know. You expected it. And when I was flying with him he demonstrated how the rudder locked over but I mean, if, if you didn’t know about it and you didn’t correct it instantly I mean, it got fixed. But very soon afterwards the original Halifaxes had an enlarged rudder, a large rudder and I think it was quite, they were quite satisfactory after that but in actual fact, funnily enough, there was myself and another youngster and when we finished the course the Squadron Leader Cheshire suggested that we would be happier if we went back on to Wellingtons and the fact, of course one was disappointed at the time and I was posted to 150 squadron but I think the whole, the whole of 103 with the Halifaxes because one time after one, after one raid I was diverted back to Elsham and when I was in the, we, I was diverted back to Elsham because Snaith where 150 squadron was was fogbound and so we and, and when I went into the mess I didn’t recognise anybody on 103 and they’d practically all, had so many fatal crashes with the, with the original Halifaxes that the squadrons were converted to, in late ‘42 the squadron converted to Lancasters instead of the Halifaxes.
JB: Coffee?
[machine pause]
MJ: It’s all yours.
JB: I was thirteen when the war began and came from a very privileged background and I do remember that my own experience of world affairs was nil. It was Children’s, Children’s radio. Uncle Mac, or some very silly, childish things and The Children’s Newspaper which now doesn’t exist and that was all I knew about what went on in the world apart from my cosy life and I remember standing in the room with my parents, listening to the radio and Chamberlain giving this dreadful speech, ‘We are now at war.’ And I do remember clearly and now, in retrospect, you actually wonder about it, saying to my parents, ‘Will it be fun? War.’ Now, I do you know it was not fun. And I went straight from there to school where we were bombed heavily because it was right beside Handley Page but nobody in the school told us that what we were hearing was mostly anti-aircraft fire. It was not bombing and we lived a life in air raid shelters frightened to bits simply because of the lack of communication of what was going on. We were not allowed to have radios or anything, in case, this was a very strict Methodist school, in case somebody found out a brother or somebody had been on a boat that had been, you know, sunk or whatever. So we had no contact with the outside world whatsoever. However, it was such that by sixteen I went up to university. London University but transferred to Leicester to study economics. Now, wartime study was different because they altered up the curriculum and I was only allowed to do two years. Well, it’s three years for a degree and I did two years and went in to some ridiculous war work in London and I can remember, we discussed the other day, David and I, what we both did on D-Day and I walked from Hammersmith to where I was living in Marble Arch through crowds of people, all jubilation, and then I could not go back to university and the reason I could not go back was because the men had all come back from the war and, quite rightly, after their war service they took all the places and women lost out because of the generation we happened to be. The luck was that we did this two years, finish. No degree. Frankly, it doesn’t actually matter in the world because people, not many people ask you whether you’ve got a degree or not so that’s really what my war was like.
[Machine pause]
MJ: Thank you David for your wife’s int, before she had to go in a hurry so we’ll carry on with what we were saying.
DB: Right. Yes, I always, in retrospect, was very thankful for, very thankful for being sent to another squadron on Wellingtons because a Wellington could take an awful lot of damage and still fly which, which, of course, happened to me on a, on a raid on Frankfurt. We were very badly damaged and after gaining control at about, at about a thousand feet we managed to, to stay, to stay airborne, to fly home and crossing the French coast at about five hundred feet I remember very well a lot of tracer bullets flying over, following me overhead. We weren’t hit because obviously it appeared that they couldn’t elevate their guns low enough to, because we were so low all the, all the bullets were going overhead but anyway, I mean, because we were halfway across the channel the um -
[Machine pause?]
MJ: It’s on.
DB: Yes. Halfway across the channel the petrol gauge read nothing and my wireless operator told base that we were going to ditch in the channel but we were persuaded to carry on to, and follow the searchlights, to follow the searchlights on to Manston aerodrome. And whether, and I was following the searchlights towards Manston when of course we ran out of petrol and crashed near Lympne and, but of course it’s, I mean it’s a long, it’s a long story but we –
[Machine pause]
MJ: [?] it’s on.
DB: The, when we, when we crashed just north of Folkestone, the second pilot, I don’t believe was strapped in ‘cause I’m not sure that the second pilot’s position had straps but anyway he was killed together with the bomb aimer who was aft who was aft by the main, main boom because the plane caught fire and the, although the second pilot got out he more or less died after getting out the, and the bomb aimer was stuck in and I believe got burnt to death. But anyway after, after this episode we were, the survivors were flown back to, to Snaith and after, after flying on one training trip I was posted to a target towing unit flying, flying Lysanders towing a target for, for, for other squadrons along the coast from Grimsby down to Skegness.
[machine pause]
MJ: It’s on.
DB: But maybe after, after being a survivor, I don’t know why, I don’t know. I can’t think of any particular reason but except that maybe when someone has had a shaky do like that perhaps, perhaps it was normal to be posted to a non-operational -
MJ: Role.
DB: Type of thing.
MJ: Mind you, I don’t think being shot at by [laughs] by trainees is a safer occupation is it?
DB: No. But er I was on the target towing unit for about six months and then was posted as an instructor to an OTU. I mean, I mean at the time one just went along with what happened. I mean, one didn’t, one, I personally didn’t have any say myself on what, on what happened. And if one got posted I didn’t argue with it. No.
MJ: Did you prefer the coastal work or the training?
DB: Hmmn?
MJ: Did you prefer the coastal work or the training work?
DB: Did I?
MJ: You did the drone bit. Did you prefer training the troops or did you prefer being the target if you see what I, ‘cause when you flew -
DB: Well one, one towed the target, it’s a sleeve. You had the operator, you know. I was the pilot but the person at the back there trailed, trailed the, the drogue on long wire. I mean, he had control over how long a wire he put it because we, I don’t know whether you know Spurn Head off the Humber but we towed the target on a very long, a very long wire for the army ‘cause we didn’t really trust the army [laughs] but anyway for the, for the anti-aircraft practice. But there, it was all, it was all quite a, quite a job because we did two or three trips a day. You know, we did work quite hard but after that I was posted to an Operational Training Unit as an instructor.
[Machine pause]
MJ: [pause] It’s on now.
JB: David, in which stage in this saga did you take on the job of testing aircraft that had been in the repair shop to see if they were good enough to fly again?
DB: That was, that was some time after I was -
JB: Shot down?
DB: It er, no, it was after and I was, I was seconded to a maintenance unit.
JB: Yes, but does that come between the target towing, the shooting down and the target towing or does it come after the target towing?
DB: After the target towing. Yes.
JB: After the target towing.
DB: Yes.
JB: So you were just handed this book of instructions for an aeroplane and said -
DB: Well it was –
JB: Take it up and see if it will go. Well obviously it did otherwise you wouldn’t still be here, would you?
DB: No. Well I was very, very, yes, with the Hurricane for instance one had to be ‘cause you couldn’t have any two -
JB: No. There was -
DB: Two.
JB: Nobody else in it.
DB: No.
JB: You couldn’t, it was a one seater.
DB: There was –
JB: But then do you, do you enter in to a thing like this with an excitement of something, that this is something new or with great fear that have they done a good enough job that this is my last moment?
DB: Oh you mean on the maintenance unit?
JB: Yes. I mean did you actually think every time you got in to a different aeroplane they wanted you to test that this is an excitement or did you think oh my God I may be dead by tomorrow?
DB: No. No [laughs] I never thought. I just thought –
JB: Eternal optimist are you?
DB: Well yes.
JB: I see. Your glass is always half full obviously. Yes I see.
DB: Well, until, until the time came when the life raft flew out.
JB: Oh yes. Yes. And this is when you were testing what? A Halifax?
DB: No. A Wellington.
JB: A Wellington. And tell me what happened.
DB: Well the, when I -
JB: The life raft inflated did you tell me?
DB: Well it feathered, you know, when I had to take, I went, took these aeroplanes on test so when I took off I had to feather the propellers and check everything worked and I remember feathering the starboard propeller. There was a tremendous bang and I didn’t know what it was.
JB: Quite unnerving.
DB: There was this huge bang and the inflatable dinghy, the rubber inflatable dinghy had flown out of its case behind the engine and wrapped itself around the tail plane and then as soon as this huge bang and I thought, ‘Christ what’s that?’
JB: Well you would.
DB: Because I lost control. The elevators were locked because this thing was, if you can imagine, the thing had collapsed and prevented the elevators from working.
JB: So how did you get the aeroplane down then?
DB: By the televator well of course it’s a long story.
JB: Well just tell me quickly ‘cause I haven’t got all night. Yes.
DB: Well the controls were rigid rods.
JB: Yes.
DB: And so of course the whole of the tail plane was skewed. The rigid rods didn’t -
JB: Yeah.
DB: Work because -
JB: So how do you correct that to get it down?
DB: Well the fin tabs.
JB: Yes.
DB: Were on a separate thing. That’s the elevator and the fin tabs is another -
JB: David this is -
DB: Another little tab.
JB: This is not visual darling.
DB: Yes.
JB: There’s no good telling me like that.
DB: No. Quite.
JB: No. Just tell me. So you’ve got the plane down by being rather clever.
DB: By using, use of the twin tabs.
JB: Is that when you got your green endorsement in the -
DB: Yes.
JB: For being clever.
DB: Yeah.
JB: And am I correct in thinking that that is when they found out what happened with a lot of the Halifaxes? Is that anything to do -
DB: No. Nothing to do with the Halifaxes. No.
JB: The Halifaxes just had a fault on them to start with.
DB: No. The Halifaxes, the original, the original -
JB: The original Halifaxes, yes, had a fault in them.
DB: The later ones had a bigger
JB: Yes.
DB: Tailfin.
JB: Yes. So it was the tailfin on the early ones that -
DB: Yes.
JB: Caused all the problems.
DB: Or lack of it.
JB: Lack of it. That everybody was killed.
DB: Yes.
JB: Now, I want to go back to when you were shot down.
DB: Yes.
JB: And you managed to get over the channel.
DB: Yes.
JB: Have we all done all this?
MJ: Yeah. We -
JB: But have you also pointed out that the young man who was killed whose name I remember because I write a cross for him every year.
DB: Yes.
JB: Have you, have you remembered to say that he had gone to the CO the day before?
DB: No. That was the bomb aimer. Young Lapping.
JB: Well, it was the bomb aimer.
DB: Yes.
JB: Young Lapping. Yes. His name was Lapping.
DB: No. I didn’t mention it.
JB: Well he’d gone to the CO the day before. This is what you told me.
DB: Yeah. This was the bomb aimer.
MJ: Yeah.
DB: Who was killed? He’d actually, the day before he’d actually been to the CO which I think he was quite a, quite a -
JB: Quite brave.
DB: Brave thing to do.
JB: A brave thing to do. Yes.
DB: To, to tell the CO that he’d had enough. He couldn’t -
JB: He’d lost his nerve. Couldn’t go any more.
DB: And the CO called me in.
JB: As the pilot.
DB: As the pilot. To tell young [Lapping] to pull himself together and then he was killed that night. So -
MJ: Yeah.
DB: But I mean he had, he had -
JB: And as a consequence you see -
DB: A brave thing to do to go to your CO -
JB: Yes. Because -
DB: To say you’d had enough.
JB: There were people weren’t there who were labelled LMF.
DB: Yes.
JB: That’s lack of moral fibre.
JB: Who just disappeared off the screen, off the section.
DB: Yes. I had a rear gunner who just didn’t -
JB: Yes. Just didn’t appear -
DB: Who didn’t, who didn’t turn up one evening.
JB: But they weren’t staying on the station.
DB: And the next, the next, by the next morning he’d gone.
JB: LMF. That was the label.
DB: Lack of moral fibre.
JB: Moral fibre.
MJ: What made them give you the job of testing the planes because I don’t know how they decided?
JB: Because, because he was a good pilot. [can’t be plainer than that can we?]
DB: Well I was -
JB: Steady. Steady chap.
DB: Seconded. Well someone, someone had to do it.
MJ: Yeah it’s just -
DB: Well, it’s after an engine change or after a crash. If any plane had been repaired.
JB: Well after this crash -
DB: Or major service.
JB: After you had got the plane back and was told to ditch in the channel. Yes? And you got it back into this wood in Kent and ended up in a tree.
DB: Yes.
JB: And they were killed. The two of them.
DB: Yes.
JB: And you were injured. What, you went off to hospital, all of you, presumably, that were still alive but now we know where the plane is, don’t we?
DB: Yes.
JB: ‘Cause we found it.
DB: Yes.
JB: We know it’s in the wood just –
DB: Yes.
JB: North of Folkestone. We know exactly where it is if we look at a map.
DB: Exactly.
JB: We went to look for it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get into the wood ‘cause it’s wired off but we could actually, we could point out where it is but -
DB: Yes.
JB: He has actually got the engine number plate. I suppose it’s a number plate.
DB: Yes.
JB: I don’t know. From, from the plane. But we know -
DB: Yes.
JB: It’s still there, what’s left of it, but of course as a Wellington is wooden it’s probably only bits of an engine there now. So when you’d done all this testing and being shot at by the army eventually they let you not fly anymore did they? Or you trained people. You were training pilots. I know that on D-Day you were doing familiarisations. That’s a difficult word.
DB: Yes.
JB: On, for pilots, training pilots and you took four flights ‘cause we looked into the question of D-Day when the celebrations came up for D-Day and you made four flights that day with different people to familiarise them with -
DB: Yes I’d forgotten. Funny you should remember.
JB: Well -
DB: I’d forgotten.
JB: I only remember because on the celebration of D-Day.
DB: Yes.
JB: I was able to tell you where I was.
DB: Yes.
JB: And you, so, I said to you, ‘Well, where were you?’ and you couldn’t remember so we looked in your logbooks which are still here.
DB: Yes.
JB: As is your, as is your uniform, your Irvin jacket.
DB: Yeah.
JB: Your goggles. Everything. Still here. Got it all.
MJ: [? to take one]
JB: It’s all stashed away in the cupboard here. I don’t think you’d be able to get in to it now though. I think the ravages of time made us all rather fatter.
MJ: Fine.
JB: You should turn it off.
MJ: Off.
[Machine pause]
JB: Now, David. My theory about the logbooks. You’ve still got three logbooks. Yes.
DB: I think it must be right. Yes.
JB: And I think my theory because I have a very nasty mind I think is that the first one is thick.
DB: Yes.
JB: And as -
DB: Yes.
JB: You get further on the logbooks get thinner. Now do you think, my theory is because they don’t expect you to last very long?
DB: No. I would say, I would think so.
JB: You think that’s the answer.
DB: Yes.
JB: So the longer you are active in the RAF during the war
DB: You got -
JB: You got a thinner logbook because there would be no point giving you a thick one if they didn’t expect you to last more than five goes would there?
DB: No.
JB: Do you think that’s true?
DB: The original one is thick.
JB: And the next two get thinner and thinner. Has anyone any theory as to why that is apart from my theory?
DB: Could be economy.
MJ: No. You’re right.
JB: I’m right. Aren’t I right about it? Yes. David, you know young Lapping, who we put a memorial cross for -
DB: Yes
JB: Every year. Am I right in thinking that after he was killed, and he must have been a very young man.
DB: Right.
JB: His father joined up in the RAF.
DB: Yes.
JB: In memory of his son and was also killed.
DB: Yes.
JB: He was killed at a later stage wasn’t he?
DB: Well -
JB: The father.
DB: What? The father was?
JB: Yes. Yes, and I know they come from Yorkshire and I keep meaning to try and get hold of some archivist in Yorkshire and look up that name and see if we can’t sort it. [whisper] Turn it off.
[Machine pause]
JB: Family, we know that
DB: Yes.
JB: And the other chap is dead as well. We know that. David, after you came out of the RAF and every time we drive past Stoney Cross you tell me that was where your last posting was.
DB: Yes.
JB: And it was handing out money to returning crews.
DB: Yes.
JB: You bought a Tiger Moth did you not?
DB: Yes.
JB: And how much did that cost?
DB: The Tiger Moth cost two hundred pounds
JB: And you kept it at Portsmouth Airport as it -
DB: Yes.
JB: Then was. And why did you want it?
DB: Why did I want it?
JB: Yes.
DB: Well, I may have just -
JB: What use did you make of it? You flew to Cowes to go sailing, yes?
DB: Yes.
JB: Because you’d always been a keen sailor.
DB: Yes.
JB: And you flew to Cowes.
DB: Yes.
JB: And you sailed against the Duke of Edinburgh.
DB: Yes.
JB: In [f for fox?].
DB: Yes.
JB: In a dragon boat that you had -
DB: Yes.
JB: Built yourself when you bought a boatyard in Bosworth building wooden boats.
DB: Yes.
JB: And eventually built a boat that went to the Olympics in 1956 where got your silver medal for sailing.
DB: Yes.
JB: Enough.
MJ: [is it?]
JB: Enough said. When you left the RAF -
DB: Yes.
JB: Was it 1946?
DB: Yes.
JB: What did they give you by way of remuneration for all your efforts for six years or whatever?
DB: A hundred and twenty pounds.
JB: A hundred and twenty pounds.
DB: Yes.
JB: Well, that was your total pay off was it?
DB: Yes.
JB: But no pension of course.
DB: No.
JB: But did you get, you got a clothing did you not?
DB: A coupon, I believe we did. I can’t honestly remember.
JB: Well you can remember because we still have the trilby hat and the raincoat here.
DB: Yes. I can’t remember about the coup -
JB: We don’t have the sports jacket anymore and I think that was all.
DB: I can’t -
JB: Did they give you any trousers? They must have given you some trousers.
DB: Yes.
JB: A pair of flannels I suppose.
DB: I expect so.
JB: Yes. But the trilby hat -
DB: Well they didn’t give you -
JB: They gave you coupons.
DB: It was in Ruislip.
JB: Yes.
DB: And we just wandered around on this, you know, and picked the clothes ourselves.
JB: Oh I see. And that was your choice?
DB: You were allowed to -
JB: You didn’t, you didn’t -
DB: To take a jacket and trousers.
JB: You didn’t think of getting a city suit then? You preferred to have a sports jacket.
DB: Yes.
JB: And a pair of flannels.
DB: Yes. Yes.
JB: And a raincoat and a trilby hat.
DB: Yes.
JB: We still have the trilby hat and the raincoat somewhere.
DB: Yes I think we -
JB: They were frequently used by some amateur dramatics who wish to -
DB: I think the raincoats gone hasn’t it?
JB: Yes.
DB: Yeah.
JB: But the trilby hat and the raincoat, I think they’re still in the workshop.
DB: Yeah.
JB: And I think you still, we still give them out for amateur dramatics. Dressing up a tramp. Since they were given to you in 1946 they’re pretty -
DB: Yeah.
JB: Pretty, only fit for that now.
DB: Yes.
JB: So a hundred and twenty pounds was the maximum. Was the total -
DB: Yes.
JB: And that was for being a flight lieutenant.
DB: But I think we got some clothing coupons.
JB: Yes, well that’s what you bought with the clothing coupons but then if you got a hundred and twenty pounds and you were by then a flight lieutenant which means -
DB: Yes.
JB: You’ve gone through five ranks.
DB: Well, where, where have my logbooks gone?
JB: It seems pretty poor pay to me but that’s all you got and no pension of course.
DB: Yes.
MJ: Right, well -
JB: Off.
MJ: Yeah. On behalf of the International Bomber Command I’d like to thank David and Jackie Bowker at their home in Southampton for their -
DB: No, it’s Emsworth. We’re in Emsworth now darling.
MJ: Yeah. On the 17th of -
DB: November.
MJ: November 2015.



Mick Jeffery, “ Interview with David Bowker,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 24, 2019,

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