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Thread: Was Roberta Cowell a Typhoon pilot?

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    Default Was Roberta Cowell a Typhoon pilot?

    The above is the title of an old post I found but lost again, but not to worry.

    In a reply from Mark - see below,

    "Acting Pilot Officer Robert Marshall COWELL Commisioned 4 August 1936
    Service Flying Training 3 FTS Grantham Course 18 24-8-36 -21-4-37

    Also commission terminated - ill health ?
    Of the 31 officers on this course 14 later died in RAF service ! "

    Just to round this off, details of Robert (Roberta) Cowell's reason for the termination of his commission are found in his Autobiography thus,

    " I joined the R.A.F. as a pupil pilot in 1935. My initial training was at Desford, near Leicester. I was very proud when I got my commission; I was the youngest officer in the Service at the time. There was one drawback, however; flying made me feel extremely ill. When I left Tiger Moths, on which I had trained, and went on to service aircraft, my airsickness got even worse and I was stupid enough to mention it. The result was that I was examined by a medical board and was promptly invalided out.
    The log-book endorsement said that I was permanently unfit for further flying duties with the R.A.F.
    I was not very upset about this; compared with motor-racing, I found flying a bore.
    The day the final verdict came through from the Air Ministry I left Grantham training field. I put on my civilian clothes, climbed into my sports car, and started for London.”

    Ian

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    Default Was Roberta Cowell a Typhoon pilot - No, he was a Spitfire pilot!

    Hi Ian

    He was a Spitfire pilot - and to quote his own book "An autobiography - Roberta Cowell's story by Roberta Cowell" which I found as a PDF on the web after it was mentioned before.

    "For the first thirty three years of my life I was Robert Cowell, an aggressive male who had piloted a Spitfire during the war {WW2}, designed and driven racing cars, married and become the father of two children. Since May 18th, 1951, I have been Roberta Cowell, female. I have become woman, physically, psychologically, glandularly, and legally"

    he describes being shot down by flak and taken PoW - so this wording contradicts yours from another autobiography

    it is certainly an interesting read.

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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    Ian,

    RAF Fighter Command Losses Vol 3 1944-1945 Norman LR Franks

    18.11.1944
    4 Sqn Typhoon 1b EK429 Low Level PR Bocholt area pm
    Encountered flak, forced to land near Kassel

    F/L R.M COWELL P.O.W

    Mark

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    Hello,

    Cowell also experienced other difficulties:

    High flying brought its own problems. On 4th June 1944, F/L R M Cowell (Spitfire PR.XI PL767:Y), while over Fruges, noticed at 31,000ft that his oxygen was diminishing and decided to dive to a safe height. He passed out and had no further knowledge of events until he reached the English coast. He is believed to have spent almost an hour over France at heights varying between 10,000ft and 15,000ft, being fired at by flak most of the time. it was found very difficult to 'home' him as he had no idea of the course he was steering.

    Charmed life!

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 4th August 2012 at 14:27.

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    Default Roberta Cowell

    Interesting comment about the Typhoon - his autobiography that I hold does not mention the aircraft type, but a search through the text only reveals being shot up by rocket firing Tempests after being taken prisoner.

    His description of being shot down by flak is "On the very last trip of my second tour of operations my aircraft received a direct hit from flak, full in the engine. I was on a low level attack, and was east of the Rhine. The engine cut dead and another shell tore a hole in the port wing."

    In fact this link http://www.changelingaspects.com/Life%20Stories/Roberta%20Cowells%20Story.htm is the story that I hold on pdf, and this is the link to that pdf

    http://www.changelingaspects.com/Life%20Stories/RobertaCowell/Roberta%20Cowell%20Story.pdf

    "Roberta Cowell’s Story An Autobiography

    A wonderful story, about a fascinating life of a Spitfire Pilot of WW2, who found he was actually a she."

    see also from RAF Commands PoW list

    http://www.rafcommands.com/Air%20Force%20PoWs/RAF%20POWs%20Query%20C_1.html

    L1 6875 Cowell R M 47789 RAF


    cheers

    Allan
    Last edited by allan125; 4th August 2012 at 15:52. Reason: addition of PoW information
    Allan Hillman

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    Hello

    Thanks Allan for this interesting document.

    I'm very interested as Robert Cowell flew with No. 4 Squadron out of B.43 Arques-Fort Rouge, and despite the memoirs are not very detailed about operations (I have bits of the Wing and Squadron ORBs anyway), there's a mention (page 25) of the explosion at a V1 site. The pilot who triggered it was F/L BIGNELL, another 4 Squadron pilot.

    Regards

    Joss

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    I know Roberta, sorry, Robert Stitt won't tell you so, but l will:

    http://rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?9770-Was-Roberta-Cowell-a-Typhoon-pilot

    Credit where it is due.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 4th August 2012 at 17:35.

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    Hello

    Indeed Col ! Good fun too...

    I had a sense of "déjà vu" on this one, now I know why. My interest about No. 4 Squadron was not developed at the time of the initial thread. Or I forgot about it.

    I think I'll cover other bits of No. 4 Squadron ORB during a coming visit to Kew, to read about the 4th June incident (Fruges is also local for me), and the Typhoon experience.

    Regards

    Joss

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    Joss,

    Speaking about credits. The sources for the Fruges story:

    No.4 Squadron R.A.F.:The History of One of our Most Famous Units. by John Yoxall. Flight. 23 February,1950. pp.255-62.

    and...

    http://www.gatwickaviationsociety.org.uk/history_wartime.asp

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 4th August 2012 at 18:13.

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    Hello Allan, Col, Joss and Mark

    - note alphabetical order so no favoritism !

    Many thanks to you all for your replies, another one nicely put to bed.

    Best regards,

    Ian

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