A distinguished wartime pilot who flew 59 missions with Bomber Command has passed away aged 90. Captain James Bowman, known as Jim, was one of the few survivors of the Second World War campaign, and prior to his recent death, was believed to be one of the last veterans in his area of bomber command. He lost many friends in the intensive campaign, with pilots only recently honoured with a publicly-funded memorial in London. Captain Bowman’s family have now applied for a posthumous Bomber Command medal for their beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Daughter Jan Childs said: “Dad was mentioned in dispatches twice for his bravery in the face of the enemy. “Sadly he did not live to visit the memorial in London, nor receive the Bomber Command medal, although we have applied for it posthumously. “He was very discreet and always made light of his time in the RAF. He was a very private man and I think this was the best way he could deal with it.” Jim won the Distinguished Flying Cross twice, receiving it from King George VI at Buckingham Palace. He successfully ditched or crash landed three times, firstly after fog enveloped his airfield in North Africa in 1941 and also during August 1943, when a German night fighter shot out the hydraulics, radio and electrics of his Halifax but, he managed to bring it safely home. And, after being hit by flak in 1943, he managed to ditch in the North Sea at 3am in thick mist. His missions included attacking the V1 and V2 sites and he finished the war as a Flight Lieutenant on Mosquito bombers with the elite pathfinder force. Talking to the Daily Echo last year, Jim said he believed the bombing campaign was a necessary part of the war effort. “Seeing all that happened in the concentration camps, it was definitely something that had to be done,” said the former pilot. “I didn't think about the civilians at the time. I should have but I didn't. “Looking back on it I realised slaughtering all those people wasn't a good thing.” He also said: “In the middle of the night you’d hear someone come into the room and take another man’s clothes. “You thought, ‘Oh dear, he hasn't come back’.” Around 44 per cent of the Bomber Command aircrew died – 55,573 men. Jim’s funeral procession today will be led by Standard Bearers of the British Legion and RAF. There will be an Exultation and Last Post. Source: Daily Echo. Via Forces War Records.
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