Aircraftman 1st Class Jack Bowser
AC1 Bowser was the last surviving member of the four-strong RAF crew who manned the Betchton decoy airfield,
Born in Leeds, he was posted to RAF Cranage in 1941. Like many before and since, he quickly formed an affection for the Cheshire countryside and returned to live in Sandbach after the war..
In early 1942 he was transferred from Cranage to the decoy airfield and remained there until July 1943 when he was posted to the middle east. By that time, the threat from German bomber command was seen as having passed, and the decoy airfield was no longer required.
Jack pictured during his service at Betchton
Jack retained strong views of his time at Cranage and Betchton. In 2003, he was interviewed by the Sandbach Chronicle about his opposition to planning permission being given to Scottish Power to build a £70 million power plant on the site of the Cranage airfield. He voiced the concern that the young generation would begin to lose sight of what his generation fought for if old airfields and military sites were not preserved or, at least, commemorated in some way.
The interview also contained a few personal reminiscences, including the odd sight of a German Luftwaffe aircraft landing at Cranage. No cause for alarm - the aircraft had been captured and was being used in an aircraft recognition course. He also mentioned the reason why he joined the air force - he didn’t fancy the idea of the army, and chronic seasickness emphatically ruled out the navy - and the impossibility of walking into the Three Greyhounds (at Allostock) and not finding it “full of Yanks”
Left is the only known photograph of the four RAF servicemen who manned the Betchton decoy airfield, and below is the roll call added on the back of the photo by Jack himself. The four RAF personnel were:
Standing, left to right: Eric Vickers and Jack Bowser, seated, left to right: Ralph Hallet Arthur, Walter Baldwin.
On the right, Jack is pictured on his wedding day with his late wife, Mrs Doris Bowser.
On the left is Dean Hill Farm on Newcastle Road, Betchton, taken in 1992. The picture on the right shows the annotation Jack made on the reverse side of the print, mentioning that he was billeted there for a short time.
The photographs on this page are all from the collection of, and copyright ©, Mrs. Janet Judge and are reproduced by her kind permission.