Henry Lamb’s painting:  ‘An Instructor of the Royal Air Force Co-operation School’ (Imperial War Museum)

As a person with a long-standing interest in aviation, my favourite pieces in this exhibition are those created when Lamb was attached to the School of Army Cooperation at Old Sarum.

I was particularly struck by the oil on canvas painting entitled ‘An Instructor of the Royal Air Force Co-operation School, 1941’ .

A check of the Imperial War Museum’s website (from whom the painting has been loaned) describes the painting as a “portrait of a young man in RAF uniform and a sheepskin jacket” and identifies the sitter to be Flight Lieutenant Caradoc Bowen-Davies who was killed aged 24 in a flying accident at R.A.F. Old Sarum on 22nd September, 1941. Henry Lamb subsequently wrote to the War Artists Advisory Committee, “I am terribly dashed by the death this week of that delightful airman […] C. Bowen-Davies. He was night flying. I had palled up with him considerably: he used to come often with his charming young wife”.

An online Bowen-Davies family tree shows that Caradoc’s wife was Betty Nash, and they had a daughter, Cara Patricia, who was born in 1942, i.e. after Caradoc’s death.  His parents were Elystan (1883-1947) and Katie Guinlan.

Caradoc Bowen-Davies had been a pupil at Oundle School, an independent school in Peterborough,  as he features in the Old Oundelian Memorials on the school heritage website.

Caradoc Oundle School Memorial to Caradoc Bowen-Davies

Flight Lieutenant Caradoc Bowen-Davies’ name is recorded in Flight Magazine (November 13, 1941) under the heading, ‘Killed on Active Service’. This was Air Ministry Casualty Communique 89.

It appears that Flight Lieutenant Bowen-Davies (Service No. 33302) may also have been involved in an earlier incident as a thread on a Royal Air Force Commands website (thread  concerning ‘Unaccounted Airmen’) states:

“F/Lt (Pilot) Caradoc BOWEN-DAVIES – 33302 – the Graves Registration Report Form gives his unit as 41 O.T.U.

The Western Mail of June 7th 1940 had reported the following:

Reported Missing: Now in Hospital
Flight Lieut. Caradoc Bowen-Davies, Cardiff, who a few days ago was reported missing, is in a South of England hospital suffering from wounds to both arms and legs.”

Flight Lieutenant Caradoc Bowen-Davies is recorded as being Buried/Commemorated in St Andrews Churchyard, Laverstock, as listed on CWGC (the Commonwealth War Graves Commission).