Bob Cowper's story

Bob Cowper enlisted in Adelaide with the RAAF in June 1940. He flew Beaufighters in Malta with No. 89 Squadron RAF in 1943, before joining No. 456 Night Fighter Squadron RAAF as a Mosquito Pilot, operating from Ford in Sussex. Bob directly supported D-Day, flying on the first day of the invasion. In the weeks that followed, he shot down four German aircraft in twelve night sorties over the invasion beaches.

The squadron had already destroyed some fifteen enemy aircraft in the lead-up to D-Day. Bob remembers the excitement of being stationed at Ford at that time, when British and American aircraft that had been damaged supporting the invasion force used the strip for emergency crash landings.

In May 1945, following the death of his Wing Commander in a flying accident, Bob became Acting Commanding Officer of the squadron, continuing in the role until the unit was disbanded in mid-June. He was discharged at the rank of Squadron Leader in December 1945.

While posted in Northern Ireland, Bob met Katherine, a Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) plotter. During their engagement, he was twice reported missing during operations. He returned to marry Katherine in 1943, and the couple had their first child, Helen, in 1944. After the war, Bob worked for the Dunlop Rubber Company as a technical representative before starting his own business at Glen Osmond.

After selling his business, he bought and ran properties in South Australia before retiring. Since the war, Bob has been a prominent member of several service organisations, his contributions including serving as President of Adelaide Legacy and the 456 RAAF Night Fighter Association. He is one of ten Australians who received the Legion of Honour in 2004 and was awarded an Order of Australia in 2012. He is also decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar, and the Caen Normandy Medal (France).

Last updated: 17 November 2022

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2022), Bob Cowper's story, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 5 February 2023,
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