World War II RAAF Pilot Passes Away

Bob Cowper passed away just ahead of his 94th birthday in his home in Adelaide, Australia. A former squadron leader and fighter pilot in World War II, Cowper was one of the last, if not the last, flying ace from that war.

Cowper was the leader of the 456th RAAF Night Fighters. He survived dozens of missions and two crashes in his Mosquito airplane. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (with bar) for gallantry, the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) and the French Legion of Honour, for his actions at Normandy during D-Day.

“I remember on the first night of D-Day (June 6, 1944) the squadron shot down four aircraft near Normandy,” he recollected back in 2014. “Altogether, I think we shot down about 35 aircraft over the beach and our squadron was proud to have been part of the entire operation that created history and helped end the war in Europe.”

He joined the RAAF on his 18th birthday in June of 1940. His exploits as an ace were collected in his biography, Chasing Shadows, released in 2007.

Retired Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston, former Chief of Air Force and Chief of the Defence Force, has returned from overseas to join several other military dignitaries for the funeral.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE