Pilot Officer Lewis Cameron Rowe
On 13th November 1943, No.403 squadron RCAF reported Pilot Officer Lewis Cameron Rowe missing after he failed to return from a “Rhubarb” (a fighter sweep to attack targets of opportunity on the ground).
Flying Officer John Danforth Browne had taken off from Kenley in the afternoon, accompanied by P/O Rowe. It seems likely that Rowe was flying Spitfire IX, MA573, coded KH-G, but there is an error in the Operations Record Book giving the same serial number for the Spitfires flown by both pilots.
They landed at Friston to refuel and everything went according to plan until the pair reached Cambrai, where good weather forced them to turn south towards St. Quentin, shooting up trains along the way. Rowe severely damaged three enemy locomotives and shared the destruction of a fourth with Browne. In addition, Browne successfully attacked four locomotives and an Army goods train.
North of St. Quentin, they set a course for base. “Danny” Browne called “Cam” Rowe to his wingtip when they reached high ground and had to climb through cloud. They held their course for five minutes and Browne began to turn, but found that Rowe was no longer with him. Calls over the R/T received no response and although Danny searched for him, no more was seen of Cam
Post-war enquiries revealed that Rowe had been brought down by enemy action at St. Felix near Hondainville. M. Andre Bionaz had removed Cam’s watch for identification purposes and reported his action to the Maire.
The German totenliste confirmed that Rowe had been killed on the 13th November and stated that he had been buried in the French Military Cemetery, Marissel, grave 58. (now re-numbered).
LEWIS CAMERON ROWE was born on 22nd February, 1922, the son of William Edgar Rowe and his wife, Viola May Rowe. He had three sisters and the family lived in St.Thomas, Ontario, and attended the Disciples of Christ Church there.
Prior to enlisting on 27th June 1941, Cam had worked for four months as a grocer’s clerk and one year as a civilian employee of the RCAF, at the Technical Training Centre, St. Thomas – he was a batman.
During his flying training, Cam made rapid progress and was considered to be a hard worker (though he did get three days confined to barracks for moving a bunk from the sleeping quarters into the drying room) He hoped to stay in the RCAF after the war.
Cameron received his “wings” on 19th June 1942 and arrived in the UK on 30th November of that year. He was sent to No.61 Operational Training Unit and then to his first squadron No.402, on 23rd February 1943. He was posted to No.403 squadron at Kenley on the 20th May.
Heartbreakingly, Cam’s last letter home brought the good news that he had been granted a commission, which must have been a proud moment for a man who had started out as a batman, but although he’d been measured for his uniform, he was killed before he took delivery of it.
Pilot Officer Lewis Cameron Rowe now lies at rest in Marissel French National Cemetery, Oise, France. He is also remembered on a memorial in Hondainville, France.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.