Bowman, Geoffrey Alexander (Geoffrey)
No. 149526, 53 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed in action on Sunday 21 May 1944 (aged 25)
No known grave
Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England (Panel 204)
Bangor and District War Memorial
First Bangor Presbyterian Church
Brother’s CWGC headstone in Bangor Cemetery
Bangor Grammar School
Geoffrey Bowman was born on 1 June 1919 and he was a son of Hugh Bowman MBE and Annie Edwards Bowman (nee McAreavey) who were married on 26 December 1912 in Cliftonville Presbyterian Church, Belfast. Hugh Bowman was a son of Alexander Bowman, a corporation officer; Annie McAreavey was a daughter of John McAreavey, a bricklayer.
The Bowman family lived in Belfast before they moved to Bangor where they lived in Casaeldono, 22 Bryansburn Road.
Hugh Bowman was an official in the Ministry of Agriculture and his brother, Robert Ritchie Bowman, was Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Labour.
Hugh and Annie Edwards Bowman (nee McAreavey) had six children:
Helen Hatton (born 28 May 1914 at 30 Balfour Avenue, Belfast; married Desmond Burland)
Eric (born 4 August 1916)
Geoffrey (born 1 June 1919)
Hugh (Flight Sergeant Hugh Bowman who was stationed in Imphal, India with South East Asia Command)
Rosaleen (Petty Officer Rosaleen Bowman, later Mrs Douglas Wood, who served with the Women’s Royal Naval Reserve)
Their father Hugh died in 1965 and their mother Annie died in 1967.
After attending Bangor Public Elementary School, Geoffrey Bowman attended Bangor Grammar School from 1932 until 1935. He played both rugby and cricket for the school and was a member of the Dramatic Society. The headmaster wrote later that Geoffrey had taken first place in the 1932 entrance scholarship competition, with his close friend Bertie Hannay coming second. The headmaster went on, ‘they were together in their work and play; together in their love of fun and abounding vitality; together in their examination successes, in their time of leaving school and choice of a career; together in their voluntary self-dedication to the hazards of air-warfare and now, beyond death’s mystery, together they wear the crowns of immortality’. Flight Sergeant Bertie Hannay was killed in action on 12 June 1941.
After leaving school, Geoffrey Bowman worked for the Friends’ Provident and Century Insurance Company in Belfast. In 1938 he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and, when the Bangor ATC was founded, he gave talks to the boys about his experiences. In the 11 April 1942 edition of the County Down Spectator it was reported that a British bomber had made a forced landing on the coast of Portugal, near Cape Espichel, and the crew of four (including Geoffrey Bowman) all survived.
In May 1944 Geoffrey Bowman was reported as missing in action and, one year later, his death was reported in the 2 June 1945 edition of the County Down Spectator. It was noted that he was ‘officially presumed to have lost his life on anti-submarine operations’. Flying Officer Geoffrey Bowman and eight other crew members died when their Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft crashed into the sea. The other men who died were:
- Warrant Officer Frederick William Atherton (aged 29) from Liverpool
- Flying Officer William McTaggart DFM (aged 26) from Glasgow
- FS Robert Dougall Christie (aged 23) from West Derby, Liverpool
- Flight Sergeant George Harrison (aged 29) from Macclesfield, Cheshire
- Flying Officer Herbert William Watkins (aged 23) Royal Australian Air Force
- Flight Sergeant Walter William Moore (aged 25) Royal Australian Air Force
- Flight Sergeant Jack Kenneth Richards (aged 25) Royal Australian Air Force
- Flight Sergeant John Thomas Kerr (aged 21) Royal Australian Air Force
Flight Sergeant George Harrison’s body was the only one to be recovered and he was buried in the British Cemetery at Bilbao in Spain.
Flying Officer Geoffrey Alexander Bowman (No. 149526) was 25 when he died, and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey; on Bangor and District War Memorial; in First Bangor Presbyterian Church; on his brother’s CWGC headstone in Bangor Cemetery and in Bangor Grammar School.