A Quintessential Colonel.
Lieutenant Colonel Sydney Robert Bower ERD*** Royal Signals
The Man Sydney Robert Bower was born in January 1898 at Alderley Edge, Cheshire, son of Robert and Mary Bower who lived at 44 Talbot Street, Moss Side in Manchester. It seems that following his education Sydney joined the Post Office as a Telegraphist and after the outbreak of World War 1 on 4th August 1914 joined the Army. He was posted to France on 27th July 1915, transferring on 29th July aged 17 into the Royal Flying Corps as an Air Mechanic 2nd Class. His description at the time was given as 5’ 7” tall with a chest of 34¾”. He had a scar on right side of his forehead and moles on the left side of his neck and his chest. His service number was 7308 and his trade listed as Wireless Operator. On 1st October 1915 he was attached to No 10 Squadron 6 BS RAF, appointed Air Mechanic 1st Class on 1st February 1916 and promoted to Corporal on 1st November the same year. On 1st April 1918 he was transferred to the newly formed Royal Air Force serving with them until the Squadron and he returned to the UK on 1st February 1919. For his war service he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
He was transferred to the reserves on 4th March 1919 and in April resumed his civilian career and was officially appointed by the Post Office in Manchester as a Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist. On 26th January 1927 aged 29 he enlisted into the Supplementary Reserve of Officers, Category B, Royal Signals and Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, serving in No 3 (East Lancashire) Company, 2nd Corps Signals based at Burlington Street, Manchester. On 29th January 1930 he was promoted to Lieutenant now as part of No 1 (East Lancashire) Advanced Aircraft Park, Signals Section still based at Burlington Street. He was promoted to Captain on 9th April 1933 in the No 1(East Lancashire) Corps, Medium Artillery Signals Section, working from Brooks Bar, Manchester. During this period he also married his wife Nellie, but no further details are known. He was appointed as Temporary Major on 24th August 1939 and following the outbreak of World War 2 was mobilised, embodied into the Royal Signals and sent to France. Following his return possibly via Dunkirk he was posted to the Lincolnshire Divisional Signals egiment on 8th February 1941 as Commanding Officer and on 1st January 1942 transferred as Deputy Chief Signals Officer to North Midlands District. On 18th January 1943 Sydney was transferred from the Supplementary Reserve to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers retaining his seniority,and on 15thNovember 1944 was promoted to War Substantive Major and the same day to Temporary Lieutenant Colonel. Following the War he served as Officer Commanding Signals in Berlin for two years and upon return to the UK continued his work for the Post Office in Manchester living at 71 Stockport Road, Altrincham, Manchester with Nellie. He retired from the RARO, Royal Corps of Signals on 5th September 1948 aged 50 having exceeded the age limit of liability to recall and was granted the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In the London Gazette of 1st June 1954 he was awarded the Emergency Reserve Decoration and three clasps, one of only 3 such awards during the year and only 26 during the entire life of the award. He was presented the decoration by General Sir Lashmer Whistler at the Queen’s Birthday Parade of Western Command at Chester. In 1956 aged 58 he retired from the Post Office as an Overseer and in the London Gazette of 11th February 1958 was awarded the Imperial Service Medal. Following retirement Sydney and Nellie moved to Angelsey, Wales where they lived at Clegyrrog Ganol, Carreglefn Rhosgoch. He passed away on 19th April 1960 aged 62 and was survived by Nellie.
The Story This set of medals awarded to Sydney Robert Bower were acquired from an e-Bay auction on Sunday 12th June 2005. They consisted of a 1939 Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal, two 1939-1945 British War Medals, Imperial Service Medal (ISM) engraved Sydney Robert Bower and an Emergency Reserve Decoration (ERD) and three clasps all dated 1954. They roused interest because of the ERD and that Bower was specifically named in J Tamplin’s book on the subject and one of only 26 recipients of three clasps. They had first been seen a few weeks earlier on E-bay but were suddenly withdrawn from sale. When the vendor was e-mailed and asked why they had been, he explained that he had been made a ‘good offer’ for them and had agreed to sell privately. It was pointed out that the amount he had accepted was well below their true market value and an offer of double the original was made. Later the same day the vendor made contact by telephone with thanks for pointing out the error on his part. Hedid initially agree to part with the medals for the revised price but then went very quiet ! Having made enquiries by e-mail he eventually listed them for a ‘buy it now’ price and the set was eventually acquired. With the medals came a couple of photographs and a military identity card as well as a small press release following the award of his ERD. The London Gazette was trawled on the internet and the award of his ISM located. It had been awarded when he retired from the Post Office as an Overseer. Upon checking his medal index card on TNA web site, it revealed that he had been in the Royal Flying Corps during World War 1. This tied in with the photograph on his ID car that clearly showed him wearing the ribbons of three first war medals the 1914-15 Star, 1914-18 British War and Victory Medals. Armed with this information a visit to London and the National Postal Museum at Mount Pleasant, the Family Division, Holborn and The National Archives (TNA) was made in July 2005. Some of his basic post office records were located and his Will extracted which was very brief and did not give a lot of detail except that he had been married to Nellie Bower and had a sister in law Gladys Brandrick. TNA proved a little more successful and copies of the Army List were taken as well as his original RFC records that still existed. All the information gathered helped to piece together a brief biography of Sydney’s life and of the course the quest for additional information goes on to ‘flesh’ out the life of a man who earned no less than five long service awards. At the date of writing Sydney's World War 1 RAF trio have not been located, they are represented by a group named to another soldier in the hope they may one day be recovered. This is in effect a broken group and if you have information please do contact me. Additionally the accuracy of Sydney's world War 2 medals is uncertain but now that the records office release details of deceased service personnel it will be possible to establish that in due course.
10 Squadron Royal Air Force
10 Squadron RAF Crest
Motto: "Rem acu tangere" (To hit the mark). Badge: A winged arrow. The winged arrow is to indicate great speed and is also a reminder that the air bomb is the successor of the arrow of medieval times. Authority: King George VI, September 1937. No. 10 Squadron, RFC, was originally formed at Farnborough, Hampshire, on 1st January 1915, from a nucleus supplied by No. 1 Reserve Squadron. It went to France in July 1915, equipped with BE2c's for what are now known as army co- operation duties, and served on the Western Front until the Armistice. During the British advance in September 1918, a novel task undertaken by the squadron was the dropping of baskets of pigeons to advanced parties of infantry so that they could report progress of their advance to their headquarters. The BEs were exchanged for Armstrong Whitworth FK8s in July 1917. The squadron returned to England in February 1919, and was disbanded on the last day of that year. In January 1928, the squadron was re-formed as a heavy-bomber unit with Handley Page Hyderabads, followed by Hinaidis and Heyfords. Equipped with Whitleys by the outbreak of the Second World War, No.10 made a leaflet raid on Berlin o 1st/2nd October 1939 (and in so doing became the first RAF aircraft to visit that city in wartime) in very severe weather conditions. Slight enemy opposition was encountered and one of the four aircraft operating failed to return. The squadron's first bombing raid of the war was on 19/20th March 1940, when eight Whitleys, each carrying mixed bomb loads of 1,500 lb, attacked the German minelaying seaplane base at Hornum on the island of Sylt. All returned safely. Italy's declaration of war on 10/11th June 1940 brought a swift reply. The following night the squadron flew from an advanced base in the Channel Isles (Guernsey Airport) through thunderstorms and severe icing to attack the Fiat Works at Turin. One aircraft was struck by lightning and had to abandon the mission because of shock to the rear gunner who had been leaning on his guns, and burns to the wireless operator. One other aircraft failed to return. The squadron converted to Halifaxes in 1941 and continued to operate with these for the rest of the European war. In an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in Foetten fjord, Norway, on 27/28th April 1942, the commanding officer, Wing Commander DCT Bennett, who later formed the Pathfinder Force, was shot down. He escaped through Sweden and within five weeks was back in command of the squadron. Between September 1939 and May 1945, the squadron earned 523 awards, including 9 DSOs, 333 DFCs and 173 DFMs. On 7th May 1945, No.10 Squadron was transferred from Bomber Command to Transport Command.
- 1914-15 Star:
- 1914-18 British War Medal:
- Victory Medal:
- 1939-45 Star: Unnamed as issued.
- France & Germany Star: Unnamed as issued,
- Defence Medal: Unnamed as issued.
- War Medal 1939-45: Unnamed as issued.
- Imperial Service Medal: SYDNEY ROBERT BOWER
- Emergency Reserve Decoration: & clasps: 1954, 1954, 1954, 1954.
This page last updated 15 Oct 16