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Decorated WWII flying ace Bob Cowper dies in Adelaide, aged 93

Wednesday 22 June, 2016

Source: Craig Cook, The Advertiser

cowper_1ONE of Australia’s most highly decorated Word War II veterans has died suddenly at his home in Adelaide.

Former squadron leader and fighter pilot Bob Cowper, who survived dozens of wartime missions and the crashing of his Mosquito aircraft on two occasions, would have turned 94 this Friday.

Leader of the famous 456 RAAF Night Fighters, Mr Cowper’s many medals included a Distinguished Flying Cross (with bar) for gallantry, the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) and the French Legion of Honour, for his heroics during the D-Day invasion at Normandy in June 1944.

“I remember on the first night of D-Day (June 6) the squadron shot down four aircraft near Normandy,’’ he recalled in 2014 when living at Netley.

“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.”

Mr Cowper joined the RAAF on his 18th birthday in June 1940.

His remarkable exploits as a World War II Ace are recorded in his biography Chasing Shadows, released in 2007.

He was married for 70 years to Katherine, who died in 2014. One of their four daughters, Helen, married horse trainer Peter Jolly and the couple have two sons, David and Richard, who are also well-known trainers.

David Jolly’s distinctive racing colours of white with a royal blue and red roundel, designed by Mr Cowper from the RAAF colours and insignia, celebrate the remarkable flying exploits of his maternal grandfather.

“As far as we are aware, Bob was the only surviving war ace from World War II,” family spokesman Peter Jolly said.

“We had just got him settled in a nursing home — and mentally, he was still all there — but unfortunately he passed away quietly on Sunday.”

Mr Cowper was held in such high regard in the armed services that retired Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston, former Chief of air force and Chief of the Defence Force, will return from overseas, to join several other military dignitaries, for the funeral, which is yet to be announced.

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