Owen Wheatley BOWERING

BOWERING, Owen Wheatley

Service Number: 285170
Enlisted: 1 June 1942, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Last Unit: Aircrew Holding Units (UK)
Born: North Adelaide, South Australia, 25 June 1915
Home Town: Brighton, Holdfast Bay, South Australia
Schooling: Norwood Primary School and Kings College, South Australia
Occupation: Medical Practitioner
Died: Natural causes, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, South Australia, 25 October 1985, aged 70 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Blyth District Council WW2 Honour Roll
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World War 2 Service

1 Jun 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Adelaide, South Australia
1 Jun 1943: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, 285170, No. 10 Squadron (RAF)
1 Jan 1946: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, 285170, Aircrew Holding Units (UK), 9 Aircrew Holding Unit
Date unknown: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, 285170

Help us honour Owen Wheatley Bowering's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Tom Turner

By Dr Robert Hecker in the monthly bulletin of the AMA (SA) November 1987


Born 25th June, 1915 - Died 27th October, 1985

Owen Bowering will be deeply missed by his many professional colleagues and by his large band of loyal friends and patients in Brighton were he practised for nearly forty years. He was born in North Adelaide, the son of a Baptist Minister but spent his early childhood in the northern South Australian country towns of Peterborough and Orroroo. He soon returned, however, to Adelaide to complete his schooling, first at Norwood Primary School and then to Kings College. After matriculation he studied medicine at the Adelaide University Medical School.

Following graduation Owen spent three years in general practice in the small mid-northern town of Blyth. It was during the first year of practice there in July 1939 that he married Vivienne Judell, who with their four sons, Jim, twins Richard and Michael, and Simon survives him. In June 1942 he leased his practice to join the Royal Australian Air Force as a Medical Officer and most of his war service was spent with the No. 10 Sunderland Flying Boat Squadron in Plymouth in the United Kingdom. Early in 1946 he returned to South Australia where he joined the late Dr. Stewart Hecker in general practice in Brighton. This developed into a large clinic, now named The Mawson Medical Centre. The high regard in which he was held was demonstrated by his election as President of the South Australian State Branch of the Australian Medical Association for the year 1970-71. His wise and gentle leadership of so many of his fellow A.M.A. Councillors was deeply appreciated. He was a Foundation Fellow of the South Australian Faculty of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and served on their Faculty Board from 1962 to 1968. He was Chairman of their Education Committee 1966-70. It was only a few weeks before his death that he was honoured by the R.A.C.G.P. in delivering their Annual Clifford Jungfer Oration during the centenary celebration of the University of Adelaide Medical School at the Annual General Meeting of the South Australian Faculty in August 1985. He covered his subject "Early Clinicians of the Adelaide Medical School" with wit, humility and a warm understanding of the character, strengths and foibles of our important medical ancestors. It was a highlight address for all those privileged to have heard it.

He gave of himself, unstintingly, to the education of medical undergraduates, particularly at the Flinders University Medical School, where he was a lecturer in the Department of Primary Care and Community Medicine. His years of dedication there have been honoured by the establishment by that Department of an Annual Lecture at the Flinders Medical Centre G.P. Refresher Week. The First Owen Bowering Lecture was given in 1986 by Dr. Dean Southgate.

His special interest was Sports Medicine, a field in which he was a true founding father. He was a keen Chief Medical Officer to the Glenelg Football Club and from 1948 till his death rarely missed a match. He was South Australian President of the Australian Sports Medicine Federation 1965-69 and Federal President 1969-71. He was also State Medical Officer to the Surf Life Saving Association from 1960 and a Divisional Surgeon of St. Johns Ambulance. His services to sports medicine are also honoured by the establishment of the Owen Bowering Prize, awarded to the R.A.C.G.P. trainee who makes the best contribution of those choosing sports medicine as a training elective.

Owen was also a keen golfer and swimmer and maintained interests in photography and music. He was a charter member and the second president of the Glenelg Rotary Club in 1954.

Owen Bowering truly served his fellow man in so many ways. He was a gentle and Christian man, a regular attender at St. Judes Anglican Church until the week of his death. I doubt that Owen ever raised his voice in anger.

Our deepest sympathy is extended to his widow, Vivienne and her children. The medical tradition Owen established in Brighton is being continued by one of his sons Richard who himself is a member of The Mawson Medical Centre.



Biography contributed by Annette Summers



Owen Wheatley Bowering was born in North Adelaide, on 25th June 1915. He was the son of Samuel Bowering, a Baptist minister, and Una, nee Burnell. Bowering spent much of his early years in the northern country SA towns, of Orroroo and Peterborough. He was educated at Norwood Primary School and Kings College, Adelaide and studied medicine at the University of Adelaide, graduating in 1937. He undertook a resident medical officer year at the Adelaide Hospital, SA, in 1938. He spent the next three years in general practice in Blyth, SA. He married Vivienne Judell, a lawyer, on 15th July 1939. She was the daughter of Lester Maurice Wolffe Judell and Elsie Evelyn Winifred, nee Skippen. Bowering and his wife had four sons Owen James, twins Richard Samuel and Michael Lester and Simon. They were living at Blyth, SA, when he enlisted.

Bowering enlisted in the RAAF Reserve Medical Branch on 24th April 1942, and was transferred at the rank of flight lieutenant to the active list on 10th July 1942.  He was initially posted to a number of units around Australia; these included 5 Recruit Centre from 10th July 1942, RAAF Laverton for medical training from 12th October 1942, to No 2 RAAF Hospital from 30th October 1942, to 4 STT from 3 February 1943 and RAAT Station, Rathmines, from 12th July 1943 before returning to 11 PD and 5 RC from 20th June 1944. An assessment in June 1944 described him having a very sound and practical medical knowledge and being well-liked and respected by the other members of his mess. Despite managing the duties of a senior medical officer on the station and the responsibilities of the medical side exceptionally well, it was noted that his attention to the administration was below average. Bowering embarked from Sydney for the United Kingdom, via San Francisco, USA, on 1st July 1944; he arrived in the UK on 12th August 1944 and served at RAF Brighton and with No 10 (RAAF) Squadron which flew Sunderland flying boats out of Plymouth, UK. He was promoted to acting squadron leader on 23rd March 1945. He returned to Australia on 3rd January 1946. He was discharged on 21st February 1946.

Bowering returned to general practice, based at 390 Brighton Road, Hove, SA, with Dr Stewart Hecker. This practice was to become the Mawson Medical Centre. He was a foundation fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and served on their board from 1962 to 1968.  A particular interest was sports medicine. He was the chief medical officer to the Glenelg, SA, football team and was the medical officer on the SA State Executive of the Surf Life Saving Association, SA. His interest in medical education was reflected in his posts as a part-time tutor/lecturer in the Department of Primary Care and Community Medicine at Flinders University in 1977, and the Department of Community Medicine at the University of Adelaide, SA. The Flinders Medical Centre, SA, GP refresher week has a lecture entitled the Owen Bowering Lecture; the first lecture was given in 1986. He was vice-president of the SA branch of the AMA in 1969 and president in 1970 to 1971. He was the President of the SA branch of the Australian Sports Medicine Federation from 1965 to 1969 and Federal President, 1969 to 1971.  The RACGP offer a prize, in his honour, for the RACGP trainee who makes the best contribution of those choosing sports medicine as training elective. Bowering also served as a Divisional Surgeon with the St John Ambulance Brigade. Owen Wheatley Bowering died, on 27th October 1985, at Bedford Park, SA, and is buried at Centennial Park, SA. He was survived by his wife Vivienne and four sons, one of whom, Richard, followed him into general practice at the Mawson Medical Centre.


Blood, Sweat and Fears III: Medical Practitioners South Australia, who Served in World War 2. 

Swain, Jelly, Verco, Summers. Open Books Howden, Adelaide 2019. 

Uploaded by Annette Summers AO RFD