Parcell Rees Bowen, M.C., D.F.C. & Bar, Captain, 5th Welsh and Royal Air Force

parcell bowen

 Parcell Rees Bowen was the fourth son of Mr. & Mrs. Josiah Bowen, of Pantyglien, Abergwili. Parcell was a student at St. David's College, Lampeter . His RAF record of Service. His Army Record of Service

1893 Jul/Sep Born Parcell Rees Bowen in Carmarthen vol 11a, p1106

1901 census

1901 census at Cwrtmale, Llanegwad, Carmarthenshire,

1911 census bowen

1911 census living with parents at Cwrtmally Llangunnock, Carmarthenshire,

1914 Oct 15. Landed in France. He enisted as a private in 1st Bedfordshire ASC. He spent the Winter of 1914/15 in France

1915 Feb was sent home with badly frostbitten feet.

1915 May 12. 5th Battalion, The Welsh Regiment; Parcell Rees Bowen to be Second Lieutenant.

1915 Jul he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the 5th Welsh, and he embarked with the Battalion for Gallipoli, where the Battalion formed part of 159 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Division fought at Gallipoli until the evacuation in December, suffering badly from casualties, forcing the 5th Welsh to merge with the 4th Welsh for a short period.

HMT Huntsgreen

HMT Huntsgreen

1915 Jul 17. They left Devonport sailing east to Alexandria on ."SS Huntsgreen" The voyage east was uneventful, with the exception perhaps, of the list which developed as a result of being so hurriedly despatched as to allow no time for the cargo to be properly stowed. No shore leavewas given in Alexandria and the ship proceeded to Port Said. SS " Huntsgreen" accompanied by other transports steamed for the Gallipoli Peninsula,

1915 Aug 8 - Embarked Rowan and sailed for Imbros. Strength 26 officers 811 other ranks

1915 Aug 9 - To Suvla 4.30 am Landed "C" Beach 6am and to bivouacs at Lala Baba

1915 Aug 10 - One Company detailed to take equipment up to front line. Moved forward 4.45 am. Advanced across Salt Lake under heavy shrapnel and rifle fire. Passed through entrenching battalions of 159th Brigade 11.30am. Official History of the Great War records that the 1/5 was gallantly led by Lieutenant-Colonel B. E. Philips and penetrated to within a few hundred yards of Scimitar Hill. Opened fire on enemy about 200 yards from Turkish front line. Later ordered to withdraw to 159th Brigade lines. Further attempts to take enemy positions during afternoon also failed. All reports of 158th Brigade's advance refer to lack of maps and confusion. Casualties - Lieutenant-Colonel B. E Philips, Lieutenant H. O Williams, Second-Lieutenants R. C. Walton, J. H. F. Leland, F. P. Synnott, R. M. Mocatta and 13 Other Ranks killed, 6 Officers, 116 Other Ranks wounded: 39 missing.

1915 Oct 8. 1/4 battalion amalgamated with 1/5th Bn, forming 4th Welsh Composite Bn. Resumed original identity 10 February 1916

1915 Dec 11. Evacuated from Gallpoli and moved to Egypt.

1915 Dec 17. Welsh Regt.—The following Officers revert to the rank of 2nd Lt. on alteration in posting, 2nd Lt. (temp. Lt.) P. R. Bowen.

1916 Aug After the evacuation, Parcell fought in the Palestinian Campaign, where he then transferred into the Machine Gun Corps, and it was with them that he was awarded his first decoration, the Military Cross

1917 Aug 16. 2nd Lt. Parcell Rees Bowen, Welsh R., attd. M.G. Corps. MC Citation. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion toduty. He displayed great gallantry and skill in handling his guns under very trying conditions, and behaving with great resource and initiative in outflanking a house used as divisional headquarters and compelling the inmates to surrender.

1917 Apr 25. Welsh Regt. 2nd Lt. P. R. Bowen, M.C., to be Lt., with precedence as from 25th Apr. 1917.

1917 Nov 10 Lt Flying Officer, Observer with seniority from this date.

1918 Jan 10. Parcell Bowen then transferred into the Royal Air Force, becoming an Observer.

1918 Sep 22. He gained his decoration of the Distinguished Flying Cross during the air war in Egypt. Lt. Parcell Rees Bowen, M.C.,.2nd Lieut. Robert Fawcett. DFC citation. These officers have displayed marked courage and determination on many occasions. On 22nd September they carried out an excellent reconnaissance under difficult conditions, the clouds being very low over the hills, bringing back most valuable information.

He appears from his record to have been in 14 Squadron which flew RE8s and supported the Army advance through Palestine and onwards towards Damascus up until the Turkish Armistice which was signed at the end of October 1918.  Following the successful conclusion of the Palestine campaign, 14 Squadron returned to Egypt and prepared to embark for Salonika, but the War ended with the Armistice of 11th November 1918 and, instead, the unit returned to the UK where it was reduced to a cadre.

1918 Dec 2. In hospital

1919 Jan 13, arrives back in England, having left Middle East on 27 Dec 1918.

1919 Jan 23 enters Tooting Hospital - VD. His symptoms are "general adenitis. roscolar rash. SP present" "no open lesions" Caught it apparently in Palestine. And was being treated at Grove Military Hospital Tooting. Before penicillen became asvailable for the treatment of VD, thee treatemnt was fairly basic. A combined arsenic and mercury treatment (intensive treatment) introduced by Neisser was most recommended for general adoption.

1919 Feb 10. Medical board on his VD concludes that he need 3 months before he can return to duty. It states that he picked up he VD in Palestine on 20 Oct 1918 and that it was due entirely to his own misconduct.

1919 Apr 30. He was then placed on unemployed list.

1919 May 24 Posted to 31 Training Squadron which was based at Wyton, and is described as being a mobilization station. This would suggest that he was mobilized there prior to being sent to Russia.

HMT Czar

HMT Czar

1919 Jul 3 He embarked for Archangel on the HMT Czar. He served with No 3 Squadron, Slavo-British Aviation Corps, at Bereznik as an Observer (Elope Command). The Slavo-British Aviation Corps was a mixture of British and Russian personnel fighting for the White Russians. The British formed Slavo-British regiments and also the Aviation Corps from Russian personnel with British officers and NCOs to maintain the fight against the Bolsheviks. This was ostensibly to safeguard a very large quantity of military stores which the British had shipped to Russia which were lying at Murmansk and Archangel. Churchill, who was Minister for War & Air, had sent a North Russian Relief Force in the spring of 1919 to enable the evacuation of British forces which had been sent in 1918. British hoped that after their withdrawal the Slavo-British units would continue under Russian officers. They seem in fact to have quite quickly collapsed when the British pulled out in autumn 1919.

1919 Jul 16. When Parcell Bowen arrived at Archangel, he met his old friend from Carmarthen, Ira Jones. In Ira Jones's book, 'An Airfighter's Scrapbook', Ira about Parcell Bowen's arrival in his Squadron. Lt. Ira Jones flew with Maj. Geoffrey Bowman's No. 3 Squadron at Bereznik on the Dvina front. Ira Jones is known to have flown a DH-9A on his first combat mission of the war, sinking one boat and heavily damaging another in a devastating attack on a 'Bolo Flotilla' at Puchega.

Other Red Air Units are similarly neutralized by preemptive attacks on their aerodromes. Puchega was bombed at least twice by Allied aircraft. (Avro 504s and DH9s) from Bereznik. Operations subsequently confined to bombing and recce missions, as Red aircraft become scarce in the north at this time. The village of Gorodok was heavily bombed by No. 3 squadron.

1919 August. The small RAF contingent arrives with DH4 aircraft together with 37 expatriate Russian pilots and ground crew, under the command of ex-IRAS Cpt. Alexander Kozakov. Additional aircraft, Sopwith Strutters and Nieuport 17s, are discovered in crates at Bakeritza but the contingent is cut off by Bolshevik infiltration. Kozakov's men load their aircraft onto sleighs and despite constant enemy harrassment, fight their way to safety nearly a fortnight later. Upon reaching the Allied lines, the Slavo-British Squadron sees action almost immediately, conducting a series of attacks on Red forces threatening British artillery positions. Allied aerodromes are established at Bakeritza and Obozerskaya. Three understrength Slavo-British Squadrons ended up sharing the airfield at Bereznik. Col Robin Grey was in overall command

In the Red Air Detactment at Kazan, a Nieuport sports personal insignia almost identical to that of one Heinrich Zempel, former pilot of Jasta 65, lending credence to rumours in the RAF that German mercenaries are flying for the Bolsheviks. Some German pilots who were members of the Spartak Union (a German communist faction) are known to have, in fact, joined the Reds, but no details of their Soviet service are known. In addition, a few Austrian or German ex-POWs also serve as pilots in the Red Air Fleet during this time

1919 Aug 24. Flying a two-seater, W R Moscrip and Bowen of No. 3. squadron engage a Bolshevik Nieuport in combat over north Toima and are defeated. William Roswell Moscrip had been commissioned from being a cadet on 26th July 1918. Both are seriously wounded but manage to land safely after making a hundred-mile flight back to Bereznik. Bowen gets DFC, the citation reading. Jones description of the action says when the Moscrip/Bowen aircraft reached N. Toima, they saw 2 Bolshevik Nieuports being wheeled out. They decided to wait for them to come up, and have a scrap.When one of them got up, it held a long way off, so Bowen held his fire. However the enemy aircraft got a lucky hit from 400 yards, and hot Bowen in the right arm, and shattered Moscrip's elbow. Bowen fired 100 rounds and the enemy aircraft disengaged. The rest of the description comes from Bowen's DFC citation:-

1919 Aug 24 Observer-Officer PARCELL REES BOWEN, M.C., D.F.C. (5th Welsh Rifles). On August 24, 1919, whilst observer on reconnaissance over the enemy aerodrome (Toima), he was fired upon at long distance range from an enemy machine, both himself and the pilot being wounded. The pilot having collapsed from his wound on to the controls, Observer-Officer Bowen managed to guide the machine from the back seat and flew homeward for a distance of 100 miles, by which time the pilot had slightly recovered and took control of the landing, which was safely made on the Bereznik Aerodrome. This officer's action was highly meritorious, and the guiding of the machine over a long distance was especially noteworthy in view of the wound which he had sustained in the right elbow.

HMHS Garth Castle

HMHS Garth Castle

1919 Sep 19. Taken back to UK on hosptial ship "Garth Castle" landing in England 23 Sep

1919 Oct 7. In hospital in UK

1919 Oct 29 . Lt. Parcell Rees Bowen, M.C., D.F.C.again transferred to unemployed list

1919 Oct 28 Parcell Rees Bowen served in Lithuania 28/10/19 - 1/3/20 from Lithuanian Army Order No 303 dated 15/4/20, which lists all the officers who served with Crozier. These are there same dates as those for Carr. Major Charles Roderick Carr, who had commanded no2 squadron when Bowen was flying in no3 squadron in Bereznik, Russia earlier in the year was the commander of the Lithuanian Air Force. According to a history of the Lithuanian Airforce published by Blue Rider, Carr and the other pilots were hired through the good offices of a British Military mission.

Carr and 3 other RAF officers appear to have been hired in response to the diplomatic row in early October and it would seem that the organisation of this would seen to have been arranged in Lithuania (probably by Pranas Hiksa who had taken over the flying school in April 1919) whilst Crozier was still in Paris with the Lithuanian mission. Hiksa had flown with the RFC and RAF. On 16th December 1919 the first 34 Lithuanian Flying Officers passed out of the Flying school relieving the pressure for the use of foreign pilots and observers. A despatch from Lt Col RF B Ward, Assistant Commissioner, British Commission for the Baltic Provinces to Lord Curzon ( then Foreign Secretary) dated 12/2/20. When discussing the difficulties Crozier is having with the Lithuanians he states: 'In addition to General Crozier's officers, there still remain four British officers for organisation of the Lithuanian Aviation Corps, who are on a separate contract altogether.' This comes from D Cameron Watt ed British Documents on Foreign Affairs Confidential Print Part II Series A Vol 2 p140 (University Publications of America, 1984).

These RAF men appear to have been from these men

1920 Jul. He accepted a secret Government Post which involved him going undercover in Dublin.

1920 Aug 10. Re-mobilised, in a letter dated 6th Aug he is told to report to Capt Harper Shove at Royal Fusiliers depot Hounslow. Harper Shove was a senior figure in the spy business and held a Class FF appointment. Bowen was being told here to report to the spy school in London

After spy school, which must have been brief, he was sent to Dublin, where his cover was working as a agent for a Welsh Coal Company in Dublin. He played rugby for Bective

1920 Oct 26 He went to a football match at Donnybrook with the other officer (one newspaper report says another RAF officer) who lived at 28 Upper Fitzwilliam St with him. This man last saw Bowen at 5pm. Later another witness saw Bowen at South Irish Horse Club between 10 and 11 pm (The South Irish Horse in Merrion Square was a sevicemen's club). SIH club was founded in Jan1920, and sold 4th May 1921 with premises at  20 Merrion Square

1920 Oct 27, his body was found in an archway between 4 and 5 Lower Merrion Street, Dublin at about 7am in Lower Merrion Street. His body was brought back to Carmarthen, where Captain Parcell Rees Bowen was buried with full military honours in Abergwili Churchyard. He had been shot with a single .45 bullet

28 Upper Fitzwilliam St, Dublin

28 Upper Fitzwilliam St, Dublin

He had been living at 28 Fitzwilliam St Upper and both Thom's 1914 and Thom's 1927 shows is was owned by Mrs. Caroline Thiery. Caroline Thiery, Irish, widow and Maternity nurse and lodging house keeper at least from 1901- 1927, as one can trace her through censuses and directories. The dead husband, Alexander was from Dorset and was a Commission Agent. One of the 1901 lodgers was  a British Military Captain. And in 1911 her lodgers were "professional men". She had one daughter who was a teenager in 1920, who could have grandchildren alive. I tracked down a living descendent on GenesReunited and am trying to see if they have anything on Caroline Thiery and her lodging houses, but got no reply.

1920 Oct 28 . Purcell Bowen. Registration District: Dublin South Oct-Dec 1920. Age (at Death): 25 Vol: 2 Page 509

merrion hall dublin
the arches opposite Merrion Hall where his body was found Front of Merrion Hall today


duns hospital
The policeman saw no sign of violence but inquiry states muder
Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital


His funeral
His grave

He is commemorated at Abergwili War Memorial which just to the east of Carmarthen. He was buried in Abergwili Churchyard.

His probate entry reads - Bowen Parcell Rees of Pantyglien Abergwili Carmarthenshire, a captain in His Majesty's Royal Air Forces died 27 October 1920 at Dublin. Administration Carmarthen 22 December to Josiah Bowen farmer. Effects £87 2s.

He is included in "Soldier's Effects" adding further evidence that he was a serving soldier at the time of his death.

His father Bowen, Josiah of Pantyglien Abergwili Carmarthenshire died 19th September 1928. Probate Carmarthen 31 October to Mary Bowen widow and John Samuel Rees and Rees Pugh Jones farmers. Effects £3618 8s 3d.

His youngest brother - The Reverend Group Captain Phillip Bowen retired from the Airforce as Assistant Chaplain in Chief. The Reverend Phillip Bowen and his wife have since passed away and are not believed to have had any children

1931 A book written by Crozier, casts new light on the subject of Bowen's death. Crozier speculates that Bowen was shot by the British.


The in the Ernie O'Malley notebooks, in his interview with John Joseph (J.J.) CALLANAN, G COY, 4th Bttn., Dublin Brigade (P17b/106). Callanan also played Rugby with Bective Rangers and had this to say about some British officers he played with:

"Stokes (?) used to come into the Bank. I played Rugby for Bective and there was a British Intelligence crowd there who were working in various Government offices. There was Bowen  (?) a Welsh International who had been shot during curfew in a row over a woman. Davies, another Welsh International, disappeared to London".

"One evening I was with Brendan Considine and another fellow from my office in the D.B.C. (in Grafton (?) Street) and Fitzgerald had decided to find out from the waitress about a shooting affair which had taken place in the D.B.C. Four of us were at a table when suddenly Auxies and civilians appeared all over the place. They came over to us. I saw [name illegible, possibly ‘Noolie’ ] an Auxie going up stairs. He played for Bective and I said one of your men can identify me, he plays for Bective. [name illegible, possibly ‘Noolie’] came down, he came over to me, “Hello Callinan” he said. “Hello [name illegible, possibly ‘Noolie’]”. “Let them go clean”, he said to the others. Shortly after this he left Bective. As soon as he was identified he was shifted. D/I Kelleher of the RIC was shot in [illegible] by Barry [Last name illegible, possibly ‘Killbride’] who was in Larry [Last name illegible, possibly ‘Williams’] unit. He also played for Bective. [Illegible, possibly ‘H.A.’] Kilbride is a Co. Surveyor, Leix or Offaly. Stokes was very tough. He played for Clontarf.

In Frankfort Avenue I was held up. I had a Rugby card, a membership card on me as it was very respectable then to play Rugby. “What’s you name?”, I was asked. “What club do you play for?” “Bective Firsts. I played against you last Saturday”. “Who did you play against?” “I played against you”, for it was [name illegible, possibly ‘Stokes’] who had held me up.

Their Intelligence service, as far as Rugby was concerned, consisted of demobbed British officers. Some actually had [illegible, possibly ‘played’] with the British Services and I suppose they thought that as Rugby players they could make easy contacts and gather information without being suspects. [Name illegible] was always anxious to talk to you. Then these men were sent to Dublin as Internationals to make service life and subsequent information available to them. Brendan [name illegible, possibly ‘Considine’] and myself, both active IRA men played for Bective. Willie Collopy and Dick had been both in the British Army in the First World War during which they met other Internationals. Then these men turned up [illegible] when the war was over and he thought he was doing a good thing for his club Bective to get them to join it. Kelleher, who had been a British officer, was then a D/I but belonged to the club."


Dublin Castle Intelligence