James Vincent Seaton BOWEN

BOWEN, James Vincent Seaton

Service Number: 417332
Enlisted: 25 April 1942, Adelaide
Last Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Last Unit: No. 463 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Adelaide, SA, 22 February 1923
Home Town: Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College, SA School of Mines, Adelaide University
Occupation: Landbroker, Public official, businessman
Died: Natural Causes, Adelaide, South Australia , 16 March 2016, aged 93 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
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World War 2 Service

25 Apr 1942: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 417332, No. 463 Squadron (RAAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45
25 Apr 1942: Enlisted Adelaide
5 Mar 1946: Discharged

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

James Vincent Seaton BOWEN


FORMER Adelaide Lord Mayor Jim Bowen came to the post after a career as a bomber pilot in World War II, a businessman, and a councillor and alderman for 14 years.

He was the great-grandson of a former city councillor, R.G. Bowen, and the son-in-law of a former Lord Mayor, Sir Arthur Barrett.

Jim was educated at St Peter’s College and the SA School of Mines, later studying landbroking at the University of Adelaide. Jim enlisted in the RAAF in 1942 and flew in 463 Squadron, in the famed Pathfinder Force. Bomber Command bombers were woefully inaccurate on night raids until the Pathfinder Force was established in late 1942. It used the latest navigation gear to pinpoint targets before dropping flares to act as guides for targets, becoming increasingly successful throughout the war.

After the war, in 1951, Jim took over the John Wyles and Co real estate business built up over 50 years by his father, Vincent Lorne Bowen.

He ran John Wyles from 1951 until 1960, when it was taken over by L.J. Hooker.

Jim became the state manager of the company and was also a director of SA Brush Company (Sabco) and several private companies.

Former Lord Mayor of Adelaide Jim Bowen in his mayoral robes in 1979
He gave many years of community service, especially to the Adelaide Benevolent Society from 1961, and was president from 1992 to 2001.

As well, Jim was chairman of the State Theatre Company of SA from 1968 to 1971.

From 1979 to 1981 he was Lord Mayor and, in that time, was particularly interested in restoring the population of the city centre which, over the previous century, had deserted the central square mile to live in the suburbs.

He helped create a special fund which bought and restored rundown city houses and then sold them.

He was also a prime-mover in planting more trees to make Adelaide’s wide streets more attractive.

While in office, Jim commissioned a ceremonial Lady Mayoress necklace featuring a large opal for his wife, Natalie. But Diana Watson, the next Lady Mayoress, thought opals brought bad luck and refused to wear it, so Lord Mayor Arthur Watson gave the opal to Adelaide’s sister city, Austin, in Texas.

Last year, Austin graciously returned the gift so it could be reinstated in the necklace.

After leaving office, Jim continued in business, selling garden irrigation systems. In 1983, he showed his interest in food by establishing a fresh pasta business called Anna’s Kitchen.

Just two weeks before his death, Jim was presented with a Legion of Honour by the French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, in recognition of his war service.

He is survived by children Penelope, Elizabeth and Alison and six grandchildren.