Ronald Glen (Ron) BOWEN

BOWEN, Ronald Glen

Service Number: SX7651
Enlisted: 3 July 1940, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Burra, South Australia, 11 May 1920
Home Town: Burra (SA), Goyder, South Australia
Schooling: Burra Public School, South Australia
Occupation: Bread carter
Died: Killed in Action, New Guinea, 17 November 1943, aged 23 years
Cemetery: Lae War Cemetery
Plot BB Row C Grave 10
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

3 Jul 1940: Enlisted Private, SX7651, Adelaide, South Australia
3 Jul 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SX7651, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
4 Jul 1940: Involvement Private, SX7651, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
17 Nov 1943: Involvement Private, SX7651, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion, New Guinea - Huon Peninsula / Markham and Ramu Valley /Finisterre Ranges Campaigns
Date unknown: Involvement

‘Sleeping peacefully. In God’s care. Ever remembered by parents’

Ron was the younger son ostensibly being born on the 11th May ’20 (but probably 1922) to Arthur and Margaret (Marjorie) Bowen. His siblings included older brother Douglas George and younger sister Lorna. Ron grew up in Burra in the mid-north of South Australia. attended the local Burra School where he was consistently mentioned for his academic performance. The school also held events to raise money for a variety of funds including a pet and fancy-dress competition which was held in ’32 with Ron and three of his friends all fronting dressed as shearers.
On leaving school, Ron worked for a baker as a bread improver and carter.
As a 17-year-old, Ron was fortunate to escape serious injury when returning from Chalk Cliffs with three others one night. The steering gear locked on the truck as the driver, Cyril Moore (later SX8173) descended near Baldina Creek. It ran into the gutter before dropping about 20 feet into the creek. The least injured, Stanley Moore (later to enlist as SX26716) walked cross country. According to the Burra Record, ‘a gruelling walk, we understand, through star thistles etc. for three miles when going for help, but in the meantime a car came along and brought the injured into Burra”. Ron and Cyril the driver were both admitted to hospital but recovered from their injuries.
With WWII declared, a very strong recruiting campaign was conducted for the A.I.F. with enlistment stations at Burra and Clare as part of a huge drive aimed at encouraging fit young country men to join the army. A group of friends, including Ron all enlisted together on the 3rd July ’40. Ron gave his birth date as being 1920, however was just 18 when he enlisted. The friends joined just two days after Lindsay Quinn SX7366 and Robert Ranford SX7410, both station hands, and Clyde Sellars SX7369 of Burra who enlisted from Clare. Three young men from Burra, including 23-year-old Don Kerin who became SX7642 was immediately followed by Irvine Ogilvie, SX7643, then Ron Bowen SX7651 thus ensuing all these fit young men were allocated to the same newly formed 2/48th Battalion. Ron and Irvine were later to also share the same fate being killed in action and today remain together in New Guinea. For the new soldiers, their initial days were spent in the cold of the Pavilions, now part of the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds before they headed to Woodside in the Adelaide Hills for their preliminary training.
Ron headed back to Burra for his pre-embarkation leave. There, the crowded Burra Institute Hall gave a rousing farewell to Gunner Dick Crang, Privates 'Zac' Humphris, Don Kerrin and Ron with gifts in October. The crowd called for speeches from each of the young men. The Mayor eulogised that the young men ”should do their utmost for the troops, and so wished them every success in the campaign they were entering, and expressed the wish that they would bring honour to themselves and glory to the Empire.“ Singing of patriotic songs followed. In concluding, the Mayor asked God to “Bless these boys and hoped that they would have a safe and speedy return, when the people of Australia would give them the best and greatest welcome home ever seen.”
The Burra F.F.C.F. presented each of the new soldiers with a parcel and in so doing shared the belief that they would do their duty honorably and nobly. The Burra Soldiers Committee, then presented the usual gifts to the men.
The Burra Record noted that ‘Of the boys on the platform two had been born in Burra, one had grown up in the town and the other had been connected with the Burra Branch of Messrs Elder, Smith & Co.’ The proceedings concluded with short speeches of thanks from each of the Privates, 'Zac' Humphris, Bowen and Kerrin.
Returning to their 2/48th Battalion the contingent then embarked on the Stratheden for the Middle East, on the 7th November 1940, arriving on the 19th December 1940 where they completed a few months training in Cyrenaica. Ron added some ‘unofficial’ sightseeing, which cost him two day’s pay. In April ‘41, Don Kerin wrote home to thank the people of Burra for the Comforts parcel he received. He also added that “There are six Burra boys in my Unit and they are all doing well.”
Lindsay Quinn, also from Burra (and with the reputation for being the tallest South Australian man in the Infantry) wrote home with his letter published in the Burra Record of August ’41. He ‘said he had not received any letters since Easter but was as fit as a fiddle. It was still very hot and had no winter since leaving Aussie. In company with Ron Bowen had had a good look around including a trip to the Pyramids which he saw in the early morning light and marvelled not only at the stone but the building. Had been to Alexandria where, despite duty had found time for sightseeing, but found night clubs too expensive. He and Ron had visited one of the big boats where they were treated to roast chicken, vegetables, fruit and custard. He had celebrated his twenty-ninth birthday on Aussie beer, but was still looking for letters and parcels sent from home.’ Both Ron and Lindsay were amongst the local young men who wrote to their Forces Comfort Fund thanking them for the parcels of goods that had been sent over to the Middle East.
By ’42 Ron had a period in hospital but eventually safely left the Middle East to head back to Australia via Melbourne where he had a second brief ‘unofficial’ time of leave which cost him a precious day’s pay.
Following training in the humidity of Queensland, the 2/48th were posted to New Guinea to face a totally different enemy and in very different setting, arriving in Milne Bay in August ‘43. Soon after, in a massive, frontal fight for Coconut Ridge, Ron’s Company faced machine gun fire on the ground and snipers hidden in the trees. His men threw grenades as they ran forward, encountering covered enemy bunkers. It was under these conditions that Ron and 26 year old, Irvine Ogilvie were both killed in action on the 17th November ’43 in New Guinea as were Lieutenant Norton and Privates Dixon, Woodroffe and Zacker, with 20 others wounded. Reports indicate Irvine was fatally injured in attempting to help a fellow wounded soldier. 23-year-old Clyde Sellars from Burra, who enlisted at a similar time, was killed two days later.
The December ‘43 issue of the Advertiser carried the news that ‘Mrs. M. Bowen, of Burra, has been notified that her younger son. Pte. Ron Bowen, 21, was killed in action in New Guinea on November 17. Pte. Bowen was one of the "Rats of Tobruk." He also took part In the battle of El Alamein and returned with the 9th Division last March.’ The Burra Record added more detail. ‘Mrs. M. Bowen, of Burra, has been notified that her son Pte. Ron Bowen, laid down his life for King and Country in New Guinea on 17th November. Pte. Bowen enlisted on July 1st, 1940 and sailed overseas during the following November. He saw service in Syria, and at the siege of Tobruk and also took part in the battle of El Alamein. Pte. Bowen would have been 22 years of age next February. He was a member of the 9th Division.’ It seems therefore that his birth date was more accurate in these reports.
Initially the soldiers were buried in the field in New Guinea before finally being laid to rest in the Lae War Cemetery. Ron now rests in Plot BB Row C Grave 10 and Irvine two graves away in Number 12. Nearby are 26-year-old SX7410 Sergeant Robert Ranford, (his good friend and station hand from Clare who enlisted at a similar time to Ron and Irvine) 23-year-old SX18365 Private Walter Millard, and 23-year-old VX81080 Lieutenant Frederick Norton from the 2/48th Battalion. Other young men from the 2/2nd, 29/46th and 37/52nd rest nearby. Ron’s mother chose the inscription ‘Sleeping peacefully. In God’s care. Ever remembered by parents’, for his headstone.
Ron continued to be remembered in the ensuing years.
Advertiser Friday 10 December 1943, BOWEN. Pte R. G.—In loving memory of our nephew Ron, who gave his life In N.G.—Ever remembered by his aunt and uncle Kitty and Charlie. BOWEN. SX7631, R. O. —In memory of my pal Ron. who gave his life In N.G. — Tributed by his friend J. H. Abraham, ex-AIF. (ret). BOWEN, Pte. R. G.—Killed in action, N.G., Nov. 17. Beneath the cross of sacrifice he lies among Australia's brave. —Ever remembered by Dug, Olive, Pat, and Maureen.
Burra Record Tuesday 14 November 1944, BOWEN—In loving memory of dear Ron, 2/48th Batt. killed in action New Guinea, 17th November, 1943. —Always remembered by your loving mother and sister, Lorna.
Advertiser Saturday 17 November 1945, BOWEN. —In loving memory of our dear son and brother, killed in action. New Guinea, Nov. 17, 1943.—Remembered always by his mother and sister Lorna. BOWEN. —In loving memory of Pte. Ron, 2/48th Btn, killed In action at Satelburg. Nov. 17. 1943. Always remembered by Doug, Olive and children. BOWEN. SX7651 2/48th Bat.—In loving memory of our nephew Ron, who made the supreme sacrifice In New Guinea. Nov. 17 1943.—Ever remembered by Charlie and Kitty.
Advertiser Monday 18 November 1946, BOWEN. —In memory of Ron, killed in action, N.G., on November 17, 1943.— Ever remembered by Doug, Olive, Pat and Maureen. BOWEN. —In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Ron, 2/48th Battalion, A.I.F., who was killed in action, New Guinea, November 17, 1943. —Always remembered by mother and sister Lorna.
Advertiser Monday 17 November 1947, BOWEN. —In loving memory of Ron, our dear son and brother, killed in action, 2/48th Battalion, Satelberg, November 17, 1943. —Ever remembered by mother and sister Lorna. BOWEN, Pte. Ron. late 2/48th Batt. — In loving memory of our brother and uncle, killed at Satelberg, November 17, 1943. —Always remembered by Doug, Olive, Pat and Maureen.
Advertiser Wednesday 17 November 1948, BOWEN. —In loving memory of dear Ron. 2/48th Bat., killed in action, N.G., November 17. 1943. Ever remembered by mother and Lorna.
Advertiser Thursday 17 November 1949, BOWEN. —In loving memory of dear Ron who was killed in action, NG. November 17. 1943.—Ever remembered by mother and sister Lorna. BOWEN, R. G. —In fond memory of Ron, killed in action at Satelberg. November 17. I943.—Ever re membered by Dug. Olive. Pat and Maureen.
Advertiser Friday 17 November 1950, BOWEN. — In fond memory of Ron, killed in action at Satelberg. November 17, 1943.— Always remembered by Doug, Olive, Pat and Maureen.
Advertiser Saturday 17 November 1951, BOWEN. — In loving memory of dear Ron, killed in action New Guinea, 1943. — Ever remembered by mother and sister Lorna. BOWEN. — In loving memory of Ron. killed in action at Satelberg. November 17. 1943.— Always remembered by Doug, Olive, Pat and Maureen.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

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