Robert Ernest STOWERS DFM
Known to all as "Bob"

Serial Number: NZ415793
RNZAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment: 19th of October 1941
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer
Flying Hours: 1323.15hrs (of which 1008.20 were as pilot)
Operational Sorties: 42 Ops

Date of Birth: 10th of August 1922, at Rotorua
Personal Details:
Bob was the father of well known military historian and author Richard Stowers

Service Details: Bob Stowers joined the RNZAF from Hamilton. He commenced duties with the RNZAF at Levin on the 19th of October 1941. Following his initial ground training, he was posted to RNZAF Station Harewood in Christchurch on the 30th of November 1941 to train on the Tiger Moths of 3EFTS.He progressed onto RNZAF Station Wigram on the 11th of January 1942, where advanced training was undertaken on Airspeed Oxfords. He passed his flying training and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on the 24th of April 1942.

Upon gaining his wings at Wigram, Bob embarked for the United Kingdom on the 24th of May 1942. On arrival in that country he was posted to No. 3 PRC on the 29th of June 1942; and then onto No. 12 (P) AFU on the 21st of July 1942.

On the 15th of September 1942 he joined No. 11 OTU, and six days later he moved to No. 21 OTU, on the 21st of September 1942.

On the 3rd of February 1943, Bob moved into the thick of things when he flew a Vickers Wellington bomber to North Africa via Gibraltar and joined the Middle East Pool. This meant he had an aircraft and crew and had to await allocation to a squadron for operations.

This came very soon, when he joined No. 70 Squadron RAF on the 7th of February 1943.

He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on the 1st of May 1943. He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for bravery, in 1943. The Distinguished Flying Medal citation read:

"³During the Tunisian campaign Flight Sergeant Stowers has completed a number of successful attacks on heavily defended enemy landing grounds, and on troops and transport concentrated in the battle area. During these attacks he has showed great determination in seeking out his target, often in adverse weather conditions. Throughout the Sicilian campaign in sorties against ports and railway targets in Italy and Sicily, he also showed coolness and a courage of a high order."

As a rude introduction to operational flying, Bob's aircraft crash-landed in the desert at night, just short of base, after running out of fuel on his first operation. He was the aircraft's 2nd pilot. All the crew survived.

The following is a breakdown of Bob Stowers' operations with No. 70 Squadron:

Date Notes From Bob Stowers' Log Book




20 February 1943

22 February 1943   

23 February 1943   

25 February 1943

1 March 1943

2 March 1943

3 March 1943  

8 March 1943

11 March 1943   

20 March 1943

21 March 1943  

22 March 1943

22 March 1943


26 March 1943

30 March 1943

6 April 1943   

11 April 1943   

13 April 1943

19 April 1943  

3 May 1943


6 May 1943

9 May 1943  


23 May 1943

3 June 1943

16 June 1943

 4 July 1943

7 July 1943

14 July 1943

21 July 1943

1 August 1943   

5 August 1943

8 August 1943  

13 August 1943  

16 August 1943   

20 August 1943

22 August 1943

26 August 1943   

30 August 1943  


4 September 1943 

7 September 1943

11 Sept 1943

14 Sept 1943

16 Sept 1943

As 2nd Pilot (Shafto as Pilot) Palermo. Crashed at base

As 2nd Pilot (Shafto as Pilot). Palermo Harbour.

As 2nd Pilot (Shafto as Pilot). Gabes.

As 2nd Pilot (Brown as Pilot). Gabes Town, Tunisia.

As Pilot for rest of operations. Palermo Harbour. Bombed
target. Landed at Malta.

Returned to base.

Battle area. Intercom un-serviceable.

Palermo Harbour.

Palermo Harbour.

Mareth area.

Mareth ­ Gabes area. Motor transport and troop concentrations.

Mareth ­ Gabes area. Motor transport and troop concentrations. Landed at Castel Benito (Tripoli).

Mareth ­ Gabes area. Motor transport and troop concentrations. Took off from Castel Benito and landed at base (Gadarbia West).

Gabes Town. Target not located. Bombs jettisoned at sea.

Sfax South, Tunisia. Fires started. Squadron credited with over 60 fires.

Motor transport and troop concentrations along Cekhira ­ Mahares Road. Bombed train in yards at Mahares.

Saint Marie Duzit (West). South of Tunis.

Korba South. Aircraft seen to explode over target.

Solimand South, east of Tunis.

Retreating enemy motor transport, armour and troops on road N.E. of Medjez-El-Bab to Tunis. Commencement of big push by 1st Army.

Armour, troop and motor transport concentrations on roads south of Tunis and Dejeiba and Cyprien ­ Tunis roads. Searched but failed to identify target and returned with bomb load owing to knowledge of our troops¹ position in push.

Retreating enemy. Cape Bon area. Bombed area 10 miles Radvis Korba. Bridge over Waadi and roads ­ main target obscured ­ 10/10 cloud. Last operation in Tunisian campaign by 70 Squadron.

Train ferry and railway marshalling yards, Messina, Sicily.

Patelleria Island. Harbour and town. Opposition slight.

Railway marshalling yards at Naples, Italy.

Illuminating. Catania, Sicily. Visibility very poor. Flares late and north-east of target.

Comiso landing ground, Sicily.

Capodichino landing ground, Naple, Italy. Started 2 fires. Saw Ju88.

Marshalling yards and station, Salerno, Italy.

Marshalling yards, Naples, Italy.

Beaches between Messina and Cape Peloro, Sicily.

Beaches between Messina and Cape Peloro, Sicily. Hang ups. Jettisoned containers. Holed by flak.

Lamezia marshalling yards, Italy. Many fires started. Smoke later obscured target.

Viterbo Aerdrome, north of Rome. Bombed railway at Tarquinia, north-west of Rome. Direct hits on railway line.

Villa Laterno marshalling yards 15 miles north-east of Naples. Port engine un-serviceable. Bombs jettisoned. Returned to base. Parts of piston ring and other bits of metal found in sump. Engine change.

Salerno, Italy, marshalling yards. Carrying flares. Target illuminated. 4 hang ups.

Bagnoli marshalling yards, Naples.

Civita Vecchia marshalling yards north-west of Rome, Italy. Return routing over Rome to discover whether or not open city.

Grazzanise sattelite No. 1. 20 miles north-west Naples.

Viterbo Aerodrome, north of Rome. Target bombed.

Frosinone Aerodrome, south of Rome.

Roads ­ Battipaglia ­ Eboli, Italy.

Cisterna Littoria Aerodrome, Italy. 1x4000 pounder.


Bob was promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer on the 29th of September 1943. After finishing a tour of 42 sorties in September 1943, he took some well deserved leave in Cairo. Following this he transferred to 77 OTU, Qastina, Palestine, on the 16th of December 1943 to take up duties as flying instructor. He was promoted to Flying Officer on the 29th of March 1944.

On the 26th of April 1944 Bob flew by Wellington and then by DC3 via the Sudan to the Flight Instructors¹ School No. 33, at Norton, South Rhodesia, to complete an instructor¹s course. On completion of course, he flew by Sunderland flying boat 'Coorong' from Durban on the 24th of June, 1944, north to Cairo. Stops were made at Lorenzo Marks, Beira, Limbo, Lindy, Darei Salaam, Mombassa, Kissuma, Port Bell, Liarobi, Malakal, Khartoum, Waddi Halfa, Luxor and Cairo.

He returned to Qastina to continue his duties as instructor and test pilot until the end of war. On one flight he crashed landed a Wellington bomber at base after the undercarriage failed to lock.

His last flight was made on the 30th of April 1945, and he was discharged from the RNZAF on the 12th of November 1945.

He received the DFM from Freyberg at an investiture in Hamilton on the 31st of May 1948.

Date of Death:

Connection with Cambridge: Bob Stowers moved to Cambridge on his return to New Zealand in 1946, and has lived in the town ever since.

A huge thank you goes to Richard Stowers, Bob's son, for his greatly valued assistance in the compilation of this page.

Photos: Richard has also given many of his father's wartime photos to the RAF Lyneham website where you can see them here


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