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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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183 Squadron Crest
24.10.1943 No. 183 Squadron Typhoon Ib JP396 Sq/Ldr. Gowers

Operation: Roadstead 77

Date: 24th October 1943 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 183 Squadron 10 Group (motto: 'Versatility')

Type: Typhoon Ib

Serial: JP396

Code: HF-?

Base: RAF Predannack, Cornwall

Location: English Channel of Cherbourg

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Arthur Vincent Gowers DFC. MiD. 40166 RAFVR Age 30. Missing - believed killed


We welcome contact from relatives as although Rob Philips entrusted us with his archives (now published on within our website) we do not have his contact list with relatives and other interested parties.


REASON FOR LOSS:

On the 01st September 1940 flying Hurricane I V7343 during a dogfight with Me109's over Oxted in Kent he was forced to bale out. Suffering burnt hands and with other wounds he was admitted to the hospital at Caterham in Surrey. Following treatment he rejoined 85 squadron and continued with his distinguished service.



Taking off at 17:30 hrs from RAF Warmwell with 7 others from the squadron when, during a very low level attack on a large merchant vessel, SS. Munsterland, moored in Cherbourg harbour believed to have been shot down by flak. Neither the pilot or aircraft were recovered - according to some records.

'The squadron had to fly through the fiercest concentration of flak yet encountered, though the attack was made with great courage and daring. Two bombs were thought to have made direct hits and others were very near. As a result of this attack the Squadron suffered most serious losses yet. The C/O. was seen to go down in flames just outside the Mole whilst P/O. Rawson and P/O. Timms did not return'. The squadron claimed two direct hits on SS. Munsterland.

Also lost from the squadron during this operation:

Typhoon Ib JP542 Flown by 25 year old, F/O. Gerald Edmond Rawson NZ/404943 RNZAF Missing - believed killed. More on his loss here - same grave identification applies!
Typhoon Ib JP428 Flown by F/O. Phillip William Barry Timms 140913 RAFVR - Taken PoW after baling out some 12 miles north of the harbour. Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang.
Typhoon Ib JP368 Flown by F/O. D.N. Munrowd - safe, after a wheels up landing at RAF Warmwell in Dorset - aircraft written off.

The late Rob Philips (Once the leading Dutch Aviation historian) has carried out extensive research into the many 'missing' aircrews and he feels sure that F/O. Rawson as well as that of Sq/Ldr Gowers do have graves within Cherbourg Cemetery and are buried as 'unknown'. He had liaised with a Mr. Simon Strombon (the son of the sister of F/O. Rawson) also with Sylvia Barnard (relative of Sq/Ldr. Gowers DFC) who together tried to provide evidence to both the Dutch Airforce and later with the CWGC in 2007. To date the authorities are not convinced enough to exhume the bodies and carry out DNA testing to confirm the findings!

We strongly recommend reading the Rob Philips archive, in particular this section.

Burial details:

Sq/Ldr. Arthur Vincent Gowers DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 118. Born on 18th June 1913 in Chelmsford, the Son of Herbert Henry and Hilda Mary Gowers and husband of Joan R. Gowers, father of Gloria, of Boscombe, Hampshire, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Rob Philips, Simon Strombon, Sylvia Barnard, Paul Sortehaug, Mickaël Simon, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 08.12.2019

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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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