BOWER, Frank [MID]

Per ardua ad aethera tendo..."I strive through difficulties to the sky"

at the time there was no squadron badge, this was approved by King George VI in 1937
The markhor's head, a mountain goat from the Khyber Pass indicating their service there between the wars.

2nd Lieutenant, Frank BOWER [MID]
Aged 18

60th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps
and Northumberland Fusiliers
Died of his Wounds on Saturday, 31st March 1917

Frank Bower was born on 4th November 1898 (Scarborough Q4-1898 9D:379), son of Joshua and Louisa Alexandra BOWER (née PERMAN).

1901 census... Aged 2, he was at 15 Fulford Road, Scarborough with his father Joshua BOWER [32] tea planter and farmer, born Hunslet, Yorks; his mother Louisa Alexandra [37] born Lanarkshire, Scotland; brother Jon [13] born Seaton, Yorkshire; sisters Mona [6] and Ailsa [4] both born Wharram Percy, Yorks., and 4 servants. His grandparents, aunts and uncles were in residence at Stradishall Place.

1911 census... None of the have been found in this census, they may well be overseas.

He was educated at Repton School from 1913 There does not appear to be a direct connection with Stradishall, but his grandfather was Thomas BOWER of Stradishall Place who was a colliery owner with property in Seaton in Yorkshire, who in 1881 farmed 3,130 acres and employed 1,400 hands. Very likely Frank spent his time with his grandfather when his parents were abroad
Later his parents were at Somerford Keynes, Gloucestershire. Sister Mona married Spenser Milne Clarence THEYRE, Ailsa married Guy de Laval LANDON.

A report in 'Flight' the publication of the Royal Aero Club of Great Britain, 12th April 1917:-
"2nd Lieutenant Frank Bower,Northumberland Fusiliers,attached R.F.C. (died of wounds received in action on March 31st), was younger son of Mr and Mrs Joshua Bower, of Somerford Keynes, Cricklade, Wiltshire, and grandson of Mr.Thomas Bower, of Stradishall Place, near Newmarket.He received his commission in August 1916, and was appointed flying officer in the following December".

The occasion of his receiving his Mention in Despatches has not been found. His end is described in an article about Billy Bishop, the Canadian ace who was also in 60 squadron:-
Billy's world completely turned around between March 28 and August 16. On March 28, he led his first patrol, an event that proved completely uneventful. However, the same was not true on March 30, when the inexperienced Billy led his second patrol. His flight was decoyed into a numerically superior German force and his friend Lt. W. P. Garrett was shot down and killed. An explosive bullet from behind struck Frank Bower, another friend. Bower, in a state of severe shock, in extreme pain and with blood pouring from massive abdominal wounds, held his intestines in his body with one hand and flew back to base using his other hand to control the plane. After landing, he managed to walk 40 yards from his plane before collapsing. He died the next day, and the day after that Billy led his third flight, a flight in which he again was caught by a German ambush and in which two of his pilots were killed. Bishop was profoundly shaken by these deaths and vowed to develop tactics that complemented his natural skills.

In another account, again from a book about Billy Bishop:-
"Bower saw the sharp nose of an Albatross closing behind him and tried to turn out of its line of fire, but he wasn't quick enough. A bullet lodged in his stomach and he fought unconsciousness in an effort to stay in the battle. Then his engine started to vibrate as other bullets smashed into it. Coaxing his engine to keep him aloft, Bower headed back toward his own lines. Still fighting black-out he glided through a barrage of anti aircraft fire and landed in a field near Chipilly,behind his own line. He managed to climb out of his machine,then fainted from loss of blood. Next morning he died.

Frank's aircraft was a Nieuport 23 A6774 .

Billy Bishop with his Nieuport of 60 Squadron

commemorated on family gravestone in Stradishall

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Frank Bower is buried in Bray Military Cemetery, grave 2:F:28

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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