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Commemorating the Battle of Britain

Friday 9 September, 2016

On 15 September we commemorate the Battle of Britain.

In 1940 the Royal Air Force (RAF) fought a prolonged battle to defend Britain against the German Luftwaffe. The Battle of Britain was fought from 10 July to 31 October, 1940.  The skill haand sacrifice of the men who fought in the RAF against German Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, dealt Hitler his first major defeat of World War II and spared Britain from German invasion. It began the Allies long march toward victory that would take another four years to secure.

Prime Minister Churchill praised the pilots of the Battle of Britain with his famous statement: “Never before in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.” 

To mark the 76th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain the RAAF Association of South Australia is holding a commemorative ceremony at Torrens Parade Ground on Sunday 11 September from 11am.

One of South Australia’s most decorated WWII fighter pilots the late SQNLDR Bob Cowper DFC & Bar OAM, Legion of Honour (Fr) (Retd) had a close affinity to those worthy of such high praise from Prime Minister Churchill. Though not a veteran of the Battle of Britain himself, Bob was a true “ace” of World War II; a title achieved by shooting down at least five enemy aircraft.  He finished the war as Commanding Officer of 456 Squadron, Australia’s only Night Fighter Squadron, which flew over the skies of Normandy on D-Day.

In 1995, Bob was asked to ‘step in’ at a memorial service for pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain, representing the Australian pilots who had fought in the battle, given the last of these servicemen had already died.

Senior Australian Defence Force Officer, Air Commodore Noel Derwort, CSC, ADC, And the late Squadron Leader (Ret’d) Bob Cowper, DFC & Bar, OAM, Legion of Honour (FR) with the Battle of Britain Honours Board. Photo by LAC Brenton Kwaterski, Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

More recently Bob coordinated a memorial Honour Board remembering the service of our Australian Battle of Britain pilots. The Honour Board was unveiled in September 2011, and is now proudly displayed at the RAAF Base Edinburgh Officers’ Mess (pictured).


The late Bob and Katherine Cowper. The couple were married for 70 years. Photo courtesy, The Advertiser.

After the war Bob and Katherine lived on the land, where Bob trained and owned racehorses. He was a tireless advocate for veterans and their families. Sadly Bob passed away  on 18 June, this year.  On 24 September, 2016, the South Australian Jockey Club will honour Bob with the running of the Bob Cowper Memorial race.



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