William Bowen was a Welsh labourer, aged twenty-eight, at the time of the Darwin raid. Like many labourers in Darwin he lived in a tent in Frog Hollow, an area that was strafed by the Japanese. When the attack began Bowen ran from his tent to hide behind a small tree, taking a bottle of rum with him. It seems as soon as he was out of sight he took a swig from the bottle to settle his nerves. Unfortunately, his efforts at taking shelter proved to be in vain; he was machine-gunned by a fighter pilot. Bowen was found three days later, killed by a bullet through the heart, the bottle in one hand and the cork in the other. He was buried by the police in McMinn Street.
Bowen had no relatives in Australia, but was a friend of William George Hughes who lived in Wallsend, Newcastle, New South Wales. Hughes made efforts to forward Bowen’s personal effects to his family, but was advised in a letter from the Government Secretary that Bowen’s belongings would have been at the mercy of looters and would have most likely disappeared.
Bowen's next of kin was listed as May Bowen (his sister) of Wales. Bowen’s father, also called William, lived in Penymynd Farm, Dinas Cross, Pembrokshire, South Wales.
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