DESMOND W. BOWEN # 1151 – 1941-42
1941/42 #1151. Des went straight from training into war service. His introduction to war hostilities was aboard the armed merchant cruise “Selandia,” taking some 1,500 troops Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans to Port Suez. He served on 10 different ships and there were many incidences. The worst, by far, was a convoy of some 150 allied ships, of all sizes and shapes sailing from Colombo, which was attacked by Kamikaze pilots. By the time his ship reached Calcutta and nearby Northern Ports, only 57 ships remained. In Des’s words “terrifying, hateful murder”! There is a lot in between. Evacuating women and children from Djibouti, running aviation fuel out of the Persian Gulf aboard the Ingermaersk, and many more. War ended with Des steaming up and down at sea, off the mouth of the River Plate, whilst several German battlewagons eased their way up stream to the safety of Montevideo harbor.
After the war Des served on a number of ships: – 1945 -1946 he was 3rd mate on “Steusky” and “Plettenburg;” 1946-1949 he served as Second mate on the South African Railway ships which sailed between SA and western Australia carrying jarra wood rail sleepers to SA; 1950 he was Mate & Relieving Master on the “Hoeveld.” By examination Des would have earned the title of Captain.
Des then switched from the Merchant Navy to the back breaking and tough commercial fishing. In 1951 he skippered the Purse Seine pilchard trawlers operating out of Walvis Bay. In 1952 he skippered the “North Cape” from Cape Town to Western Australia where she was used in the crayfish industry.
This beautiful land of Australia captured Des and finally, in 1952 he swallowed the anchor in Australia and left the sea. His first job was driving a Coke Cola truck and he claimed to be the only Master Mariner driving a coco-cola truck, in AUSTRALIA!!!
Des was appointed president of the General Botha Old Boys association in 2001