The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lieutenant Henry William Bowd, Australian Flying Corps, First World War.

Place Africa: Egypt, Cairo
Accession Number PAFU2015/393.01
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 23 September 2015
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on Lieutenant Henry William Bowd, Australian Flying Corps, First World War.

Speech transcript

Lieutenant Henry William Bowd, Australian Flying Corps
Accidentally killed 25 October 1917
Photograph: P01034.040

Story delivered 23 September 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Henry William Bowd.

Harry Bowd was born on 5 July 1884 to William and Maria Bowd. He was born in Emmaville, New South Wales, two years after it changed its name from Vegetable Creek. Little is known about his early life, although he probably grew up on his father’s property near Emmaville.

Bowd began his career by entering the Justice Department, and after some time in Inverell moved to Broken Hill to work as a deposition clerk in the local court house. He was a keen cricketer, known as “a good bat and a keen fieldsman: a tower of strength to any country eleven”. Some years later he returned to Inverell to study to become a lawyer. He was in the middle of his studies and working as an articled law clerk in Inverell when war broke out.

Bowd enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1915, and was posted to the 6th Light Horse Regiment. In October 1915 he attended an officers’ school, passing with the rank of second lieutenant. He left Australia in March 1916 for active duty overseas, and a few months after his arrival in Egypt he transferred to the Australian Flying Corps. He served as an observer on a number of flights while also undergoing training as a pilot. In September 1916 Bowd was promoted to lieutenant and two months later passed as a pilot.

Bowd was said to be an excellent pilot. Commander of No. 67 Squadron Major Williams wrote: “I always knew that if I gave him any work to do it was well done.” Another pilot wrote of Bowd as:
a cool, fearless pilot, just the same type who are winning the war for us and laying down their lives so cheerfully and so bravely in every theatre of operations … He had many good stunts to his credit, and had practically made his name in the corps. Promotion was only a matter of time.

In October 1917 Lieutenant Bowd left the squadron to supervise the assembly of some new aircraft. He became one of the test pilots checking the capability and readiness of the planes. On 25 October he was flying a Martinsyde super-scout and attempting to perform a loop manoeuvre when ground observers saw the plane go from looping into a steep dive without warning. As Bowd tried to pull out of the dive, the plane’s tail broke away. His safety harness was attached to the piece that fell off, and he was pulled to his death as it plunged to the ground from 3,000 feet. The plane’s petrol tank exploded, destroying the aircraft.

Lieutenant Cresswell of No. 67th Squadron wrote: “he was one of those fortunate beings who would have gone through life without making an enemy, and every officer and man with whom he served will combine to mourn his loss”. Major Williams noted: “His death is a severe loss to the unit… I feel his loss more than ever owing to the fact that I had already recommended him for Captain and Flight Commander.” Harry Bowd was buried in Cairo shortly after his death. He was 33 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died during the First World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.
This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lieutenant Henry William Bowd, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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