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Old 8th October 2018, 11:15
andy bird andy bird is offline
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53 Sqn Liberator BZ873 21 May 1944

Whilst enquiring about a Mosquito crewman, the curator informed me he was a relative of Geoffrey Bowman who died on 21st May 1944. He was one of six RAF and 5 RAAF airmen aboard a 53 Squadron Liberator who disappeared between 0125 hours and 0600 hours.

Have pulled the NAA file, and the Decoded Enigma files from Kew.

From Enigma Germans mention "enemy air activity in Gironde" seems to be a lot of Ju88 flights from Royan but none mention shooting down a Liberator, as Bowmans patrol line was Gironde, Spanish coast to Gibraltar

From NAA files two bodies washed up one month to the day of one of two RAF men washed ashore near Bilbao.

Any help appreciated.

Andy B.
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Old 8th October 2018, 14:35
Col Bruggy Col Bruggy is offline
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Re: 53 Sqn Liberator BZ873 21 May 1944

Hello,

20/21 May 1944
No.53 Sqn
Liberator GR.V (L.L.) BZ873 'S'
Anti U-boat Patrol - Inner Bay Area.

T/o St Eval 2056. When not far from the mouth of the Gironde a/c sent a flash report at 0120, the report was then cancelled. Nothing further was heard from the a/c and it Failed to Return.

149526 F/O (Capt./Pilot) Geoffrey Alan BOWMAN RAFVR - Missing
AUS8934 F/S (2nd Pilot) Jack Kenneth RICHARDS RAAF - Missing
1483509 F/S (1st.Nav.) Robert Dougall CHRISTIE RAFVR - Missing
AUS423171 F/S (2nd.Nav.) Walter William MOORE RAAF - Missing
AUS420313 F/S (W.Op./AG.) Herbert William WATKINS RAAF - Missing
1116256 F/S (W.Op./AG.) George HARRISON RAFVR - Buried Bilbao British Cemetery, Spain
AUS425024 F/S (W.Op./AG.) John Thomas KERR RAAF - Missing
AUS425311 F/S (W.Op./AG.) Alan Francis JOHNSON RAAF - Missing
528618 W/O (W.Op./AG) Frederick William ATHERTON RAF - Missing
53450 F/O (Flt.Eng.) William McTAGGART DFM RAF - Missing

Missing airmen are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Are you aware that Geoffrey Alexander Bowman lost an older brother? Sgt Eric Ritchie Bowman's 26 Conversion Flight Stirling I N6066 flew into trees near Kempton, SW of Bedford, on 24 December 1941 (BCL8/13).

Col.

Last edited by Col Bruggy; 9th October 2018 at 18:19.
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Old 9th October 2018, 18:08
andy bird andy bird is offline
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Re: 53 Sqn Liberator BZ873 21 May 1944

Hi Col Bruggy

Thanks, Yes, in touch with Bowman family.

There was a convoy in Geoffrey Bowman's search area using decode enigma receipts followed the track of V405 and V625 protecting stream ship HOCHHEIMER which was torpedoed by HMS SCEPTRE on 21 May 1944, near Bilbao.

Of a crew of 32 men, only seven survived. The SS JUAN ARTAZA rescued and disembarked the second lieutenant in Santander, two other men were rescued by the fishing vessel and the four others reached Spanish waters.

Waiting for a copy of HMS SCEPTRE War Diary Page for 21 May.

Kind regards

Andy
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Old 10th October 2018, 07:43
Col Bruggy Col Bruggy is offline
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Re: 53 Sqn Liberator BZ873 21 May 1944

Hello,

Information from elsewhere indicates that the German steamer "HOCHHEIMER" was despatched at 0037 on 20 May 1944, in position 43:31N:02:52W. Fail to see connection with loss of No.53 Sqn Liberator BZ873, lost sometime after 0120 on 21 May 1944.

https://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/3434.html & ADM 199/1841

Col.
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