William E. Bowden
Flt Lt, RAF Squadron 60

Mitsushima British Roster      Mitsushima Main     Zentsuji British Roster

Regretably, we have very little on Flt Lt William Ellis Bowden (40502). Our only information regarding is that he was with 60 Squadron and was shot down while flying a Blenheim Bomber (L4913) over the Gulf of Siam. His plane had departed Kuantan Airfield on the morning of 8 Dec 1941 at 0630 to attack Japanese shipping at Kota Bharu. His plane was hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire and, in his attempt to crash land at sea, the plane disintegrated and Canadian-born Bowden was the sole survivor. He clung to the plane's tailwheel and was finally rescued after 24 hours by a Japanese ship then taken to Tokyo, most likely to Ofuna POW Camp. He had the dubious distinction of being the first Allied airman captured by the Japanese.

Before May 15, 1942, he arrived at the Zentsuji POW Camp. We do know that his picture was taken on or before this date at Zentsuji where he remained until late June 1945. He, along with all the British officers, were sent to Tokyo #12D Camp at Mitsushima (Hiraoka) where he was eventually rescued in September 1945.

Bowden was killed in an aircraft accident on May 29, 1951; details on his life can be found at the Chippenham Cemetery website. Special thanks to John Belcher for this information.