A wartime biography of Australian World War II Air Ace, Squadron Leader Bob Cowper.
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by Stephen Lewis with Bob Cowper
Bob Cowper volunteered for RAAF service in 1940 at the age of 18. After flying training in Western Australia and Canada he travelled to Scotland for night fighter instruction before his first operational posting to Northern Ireland. Following his relocation to Malta in 1943, he force landed his Beaufighter aircraft in the Sahara Desert and was chased by hostile Arabs before identifying himself as an allied airman.
During his first successful combat over the island of Sicily, his new Beaufighter was blown from the sky after being struck by debris from the enemy aircraft. On his return to England he later began his third operational tour of duty with 456 Squadron, Australia's only night fighter unit of WWII. Along with his long-time navigator Bill Watson, he was to experience more success during the D-Day invasion of Europe, claiming ace status shortly afterwards.
Bob Cowper's war involved romance as well when he was to meet Kay, his future wife and mother of their four children.
At the conclusion of hostilities, Bob Cowper, by then a Squadron Leader, was the Commanding Officer of 456 Squadron.
His post war activities have been many and varied, including a successful period breeding Jersey cattle. He continues to have equine interests and has twice represented Australia during official visits to England which have celebrated Australia's involvement in the defence of Britain.