Cowan, John Connell (No. 1349530)

Cowan, John Connell

Leading Aircraftman

No. 1349530, 2712 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Died after a shooting accident on Wednesday 15 April 1942 (aged 19)


Arngask New Cemetery, Perthshire, Scotland (Section 4. Grave 342)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission


John Connell Cowan was born in 1923 and he was a son of Ronald McDonald Cowan and Joan Murray Cowan (nee Connell) of Bridge of Earn, Perthshire, Scotland.  Ronald Cowan worked as a ploughman and he and Joan Connell were married on 28 April 1922 in Hilton of Gask Church of Scotland in the parish of Findo Gask, Perthshire.

During the Second World War John Connell Cowan served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and in 1942 he was stationed at Ballyhalbert, Co. Down in 2712 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment.  The function of this Regiment was to secure the airfield from attack.

The death of Leading Aircraftman John Connell Cowan (No. 1349530) at Ballyhalbert on 15 April 1942 was reported in the 25 April 1942 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle under the headline Young Airman Killed – Shot While on Manoeuvres.  An inquest was held on 16 April 1942 by the Coroner, Dr R.A.McC. Wallace.  Corporal W.R.D. Davies said that he had been in charge of the guard on the previous evening.  The guard consisted of twelve men and, when each man went on duty, he was issued with five rounds of ammunition.  Each man was personally responsible for the ammunition issued to him and it was the rule that no cartridge should be ‘up the spout’.  When not actually on guard the men could sleep but they had to keep their rifles handy.  The system was ‘two hours on and four hours off’.  When the men came off duty they reported at the guardroom to hand over their ammunition.

On the morning of the shooting, when the twelve men were going off duty, one of them complained of feeling unwell and asked to be excused to report himself sick.  He went for breakfast first and then found that he was too late for the sick parade, so he returned to his billet.  Corporal W.R.D. Davies said that he thought everyone had handed in their ammunition, but he must have ‘muddled the count’ because he did not notice that he was five rounds short.

Later in the day, at around 2.45 pm, Leading Aircraftman John Connell Cowan was shot during manoeuvres and it was found that one of the men had live cartridges in his rifle.  The man was placed under close arrest and he and others were called to give evidence at the inquest about the circumstances of the shooting.  The Medical Officer stated that he had found a bullet wound in the left upper side of LAC Cowan’s chest.  The bullet entered from the rear and exited from the front.  Death was due to shock and haemorrhage and the Coroner found that the gunshot wounds were ‘caused by the accidental discharge of a rifle by LAC George Garry’.

Leading Aircraftman John Connell Cowan (No. 1349530) was 19 when he died.