PLTOFF Frederick John McDowell 403070

Squadron/s457 SQN
Rank On Discharge/Death Pilot Officer (PLTOFF)
NicknameDarky
Mustering / SpecialisationPilot
Date of Birth04 Dec 1917
Date of Enlistment09 Dec 1940
Date of Death06 Jul 1943
Contributing Author/sSteve McGregor
Updated by Vince Conant 2013
The Spitfire Association

Darky was born 4/12/1917 and enlisted on 9/12/1940. His mate Roy (Gus) Parton had a request which I am pleased to carry out. He asked that during his funeral service we honour the memory of a close and dear friend from his Air Force days.

Roy and his friend 'Darky' McDowell served together in 457 Spitfire Squadron. Roy was a Leading Aircraftsman and Darky; was a Pilot Officer. They served in Darwin during the period when it was continually bombed by enemy forces.

Roy kept a diary from which we have been able to piece together some facts about Darky and their time up North. In an entry dated Tuesday 6th July 1943 Roy records that 25 enemy bombers and 23 fighters raided Millingimbi where 457 Spitfire Squadron were stationed. The last part of the entry reads "Three of our pilots are still missing":

P/O Darky McDowell
F/O Bush Hamilton
P/O Robbo Robinson

Roy always had an immaculate and distinctive hand and this entry was written in his familiar hand writing.

There are no more entries until Friday 16th July 1943 where he wrote: Darky - Bush and Robbo have been gazetted DEAD. THEY'VE HAD IT!

It's easy to see from the change in handwriting in this entry and future entries how upsetting this news was for Roy. The final 2 entries relating to Darky were on:

Tuesday 20th July 1943 - FOUND DARKY'S BODY TODAY - ALL BURNT UP - SHOT UP TOO.
Wednesday 21st JULY 1943 - BURY DARKY TO-DAY - I HELPED LOWER THE COFFIN INTO THE GRAVE. STILL TWO MISSING.

Again both of these entries reveal from the handwriting just how upset Roy was at the death of his very close friend and comrade. We're not sure if Roy ever got over "Darky's" death. We do know for sure that he never ever forgot him. Darky, we honour your memory and acknowledge with sincere gratitude the ultimate sacrifice made by you in the defence of our country.

After 63 years they are together again. Well done brave men.

A58-80 - F.VC - BS197 - Arrived in Australia on SS Hoperidge 23/10/42. Rec 1AD ex UK 27/10/42. Rec 457Sqn RAAF ex 1AD 15/11/42. Taxiing accident at Batchelor Strip 25/01/43 with damage to port mainplane and tail wheel. Repairs completed 01/02/43 by No 1 Mobile Repair Section 7RSU. NFDs. Coded ZP-R. Operational loss 12.20 hrs 06/07/43 when part of 11 aircraft interception made by 457Sqn RAAF on Enemy formation approaching Darwin from the west. As No 3 in Blue Section, they made their interception (With the exception of Blue No 4) at 22000 feet approximately some 35 miles east of Anson Bay. All three of the remaining attacking Blue Flight failed to return. (Blue 1 (F/O F D Hamilton Serv#403050) Blue 2 (P/O F.R.J."Darky" McDowell Serv#403070, later found 20/07/43 in a/c wreck) and Blue 3 (P/O N F Robinson Serv#401284) all missing). Pilot of BS197: P/O N.F.Robertson Serv#4016284 missing believed killed. AMSE Approval to W/O per File #9/16/956 10/11/43.

A TRIBUTE TO A GREAT MATE - R.I.P


Livingstone, NT. 25 April 1943. Informal outdoors portrait of 403070 Flight Sergeant F. R. J. MacDowell of Oatley, NSW, a pilot of No. 457 (Spitfire) Squadron RAAF.

Inscribed in the photograph album of LAC Bill Conant, 457 Squadron UK "Jack McDowell and Kim Edwards"



Adelaide River Australian war cemetery. The crosses in the right foreground mark the graves of 403070 Pilot Officer Frederic Richard John McDowell, 457 Squadron RAAF (killed on operations on 6 July 1943); and SX24938 Vincent Murnane, 149 Light Anti Aircraft Battery RAA (extreme right), died of injuries 9 August 1943.

Learn more about the squadron/s in which Frederick served.