The Beginning of The Long Road to 30 ops.

P/O Bowerman selected his crew and began their training together as a team while at No. 22 Operational Training Unit in Warwickshire. It would be here while flying a Wellington and completing a various set of exercises that his crew grew into a disciplined unit.

After several months the crew were ready for their next step. Moving up to the four engine heavy bombers. This would be completed at 1666 Heavy Conversion Unit at No.61 Base located at Topcliffe. More training and more training. Which they would put to full use on their first sortie a few months into the future.

The size of the crew would expand by one as Flight Engineer Sgt. Lucking a member of the RAF joined them. Lucking would assist P/O Bowerman in takeoffs and landings as well as a number of other duties while the aircraft was airborne and when inspecting the aircraft before any flight.

On July 8th 1944, now with the rank of Flying Officer, Bowerman and his crew arrived at Middleton St. George to join "B" Flight of 419 Squadron.

The crew on arrival at Middleton St. George were:
F/O Lorne Elmore Bowerman Pilot
Sgt. C.K. Rice Navigator
P/O J.R. Hindle Bomb Aimer
F/S E.J. Swift Wireless Air Gunner
Sgt. R.E. Lucking Flight Engineer
Sgt. L.W. Toth Air Gunner
WO W.R. Farrell Air Gunner

First Operation

After only one operation as 2nd Pilot on July 18th, instead of the normal two sorties, he was posted on the Battle Order of July 25th for his first operational mission over enemy territory.

For a first operation it would be one that would show the crew were well trained and Bowerman a very able pilot.

The operation for the Squadron was to be a return to Stuttgart which just 24 hours ago had been their target. That raid had cost the lives of four 419 airmen on Lancaster KB719. (Two of the crew became evaders and one was captured)

The planning for this second sortie was late in arriving. Details of the route, tactics, the timing were described as "extremely late in arriving" .
The Navigators had not completed their duties to "set course" time before 11 o'clock that night. And in the end it was 20 minutes after "set course" time had past that the final Lancaster became airborne and had to take a number of short cuts to catch up with the bomber stream as it headed for Stuttgart.

It was into this bit of a mess that F/O Bowerman found himself in for this his first sortie as Captain. In the addition to the rushed plans and delays in climbing to the set course height was the use of the shortest runway available. All the pilots were finding that their overloaded bombers were just making it in the short space they had.

Beginning of a Long Night

As F/O Bowerman's turn came for takeoff he fought to get his Lancaster "Piddlin Peter" airborne. The result was one of his main wheels hit a fence post which was located some 50 yards past the end of the runway. Bowerman masterfully kept KB720 from crashing and then headed on to join the bomber stream to the target.

At 0140 in the morning the Bowerman crew was attacked for the first time by night fighters.
Head on attacks were rare and it may have been that a Me210 night fighter pilot thought this would catch the crew off guard. There was some confusion as to the attacking fighter was a Me210 or a JU88. It was the Intelligence Officer who filed the report that concluded that it was an Me210

At 0148 eight minutes after the first attack Rear Gunner WO Farrell located the source of the tracer heading towards VR-P. A Luftwaffe FW190 night fighter had come from behind and beneath the Lancaster. Farrell called out for a corkscrew to port and as F/O Bowerman completed these series of rolls and climbs to lose the attacker Farrell observed the fighter come in from 400 yards until it broke away underneath the Lancaster at 250 yards.

A Safe Return and Completion of Their Tour

After colliding with a fence post on takeoff and being attacked twice. The pilot F/O Bowerman brought his crew and "Piddlin Pete" back home. As he would for 29 more sorties. As they completed the final months of their operations together a series of promotions and a Commissioning occurred. Toth was promoted to F/S, Swift was promoted to Warrant Officer and Rice was Commissioned as a Pilot Officer.

By November 1st F/O Lorne Bowerman had completed his 31st operation, which concluded his Tour.
As for Piddlin Peter, she was passed on to F/L Watts and later was semi-retired to No. 1664 HCU to be used as a training aircraft.