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Joe Bowles


Reported to the ETO on 01 Jul 1942.
Flew as the BTG on the B-17 "Banshee". He was appointed to Group Gunnery Officer on 17 Sept 1943. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received during the famous low-altitude mission over St. Nazaire. His ship was hit badly by both flak and 20 mm. shells, tearing away large parts of stabilizer and rudder, and leaving a huge hole in the leading edge of the wing. The co-pilot had the rudder pedals shot right out from under his feet, and both navigator and bombarder were wounded by flying fragments. The side of Bowles's turret received a direct flak hit, tearing out a hole and wounding him in the head. Lt. Bowles is credited with two of the seven planes destroyed by the crew of his ship on the mission. Just before his ship was hit so badly, a FW 190 came ni at 1 o'clock low. At 500 yards Bowles gave him a 100-round burst. Bowles saw the pilot bail out and his black chute open. A few minutes later another FW came in at 6 o'clock low. Bowles opened fire at 900 yards and caught him squarely at 400 yards. The whole ship burst into flame and catapulted downward. The German pilot didn't have time to get out. Regardless of three people wounded, the pilot brought the plane back and landed it safely.

EAME, DFC, Purple Heart, Air Medal with 3OCLs


Units served with

  • 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat,...

  • 369th Bomb Squadron


Event Location Date
Born Roanoke, Virginia 24 July 1915
Died 15 November 1997
Buried Roanoke, Virginia


Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:15:17 AAM AAM ingest

306th BGA Collection, Russell Strong Index Cards, / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia /