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An Admiral in the Commandos - Admiral Sir Walter Henry Cowan KCB, DSO and bar, MVO  XML
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Joined: 23/09/2008 00:08:02
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I spotted the name Admiral Sir Walter Henry Cowan KCB, DSO and bar, MVO, in the No.2 Commando War Diary and was intrigued to find out more. The wikipedia link gives his life history part of which I mention here. He was born in 1871 and at the age of 15 in 1886 his naval career began. In 1901 he took command of the destroyer HMS Falcon and acted as second-in-command of the Devonport destroyer flotilla under Roger Keyes, who was then developing new destroyer tactics. They became fast friends. Cowan commanded several more destroyers, acquiring a widespread reputation as a destroyer captain, and then succeeded Keyes in command of the flotilla. That friendship remained and is how in WW2 he came to be with the Commandos. Again from Wikipedia during World War II he was given a job by his old friend Roger Keyes, then head of the Commandos. Cowan voluntarily took the lower rank of Commander and went to Scotland in 1941 to train the commandos in small boat handling. He served in North Africa, where he saw action at Mechili and at the Battle of Bir Hakeim, where he was captured on 27 May 1942, having attached himself to the Indian 18th King Edward VII's Own Cavalry (his commando unit having been disbanded). He was fighting an Italian tank crew single-handedly armed only with a revolver. Repatriated in 1943 as he was considered by his captors too old to fight, he rejoined the commandos and saw action in Italy during 1944. He was awarded a bar to his DSO. He retired once more in 1945. The entry in the War Diary for No.2 Cdo relates to his leaving the Commando for good. He had served with No.2 and No.9 Cdo's. The entry is dated 23rd June 1944 in Vis and it was on the same day that the Commando had paraded in front of Marshall Tito. The entry is as follows
" At 1545 hours notice was received that Admiral Sir Walter Cowan KCB DSO MVO was leaving for good at 1700hrs. A guard of honour of 100 men commanded by Captain M.W. Stilwell and 2 subalterns had been arranged for 2130hrs. his original time of departure, and this had to be got together in a hurry. This was mounted on the pier opposite the MGB on which he was to embark. All available British Troops turned out to wish the Admiral God Speed. The Partisans mounted a guard of honour at the shore end of the quay. When he had inspected them he was piped past by each of the MGB and Vosper crews in succession. When he inspected the guard of honour he was obviously deeply moved and made a farewell speech standing on a bollard beginning " My dear friends." Unfortunately the speech was cut short by emotion. As the MGB drew away the remainder of 2 Commando and the others gave 3 magnificent cheers, whilst the Highland Light Infantry band played " Will ye no come back again". Altogether it was the most stirring event most of us have ever witnessed for some time. It was with very genuine regret that the Commando saw their greatest admirer depart. The unit will be poorer for his loss."

In memory of Admiral Sir Walter Henry Cowan, 1st Baronet, KCB, DSO and bar, MVO. 11 June 1871?14 February 1956, known as Tich Cowan

His life story is briefly mentioned in the Wikipedia link here:
He can be seen with Marshall Tito in the pic below and the gallery picture posted by Fred Mather via Bob and Janet Bishop here:
[Thumb - fynn and cowan.JPG]
 Filename fynn and cowan.JPG [Disk] Download
 Description Lt. Col. F.W. (Ted) Fynn MC and Admiral Sir Walter Cowan KCB DSO* MVO
 Filesize 62 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  474 time(s)

[Thumb - Marshall Tito inspects.jpg]
 Filename Marshall Tito inspects.jpg [Disk] Download
 Filesize 400 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  886 time(s)

This message was edited 6 times. Last update was at 05/04/2013 17:36:20

Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
God and the Soldier, all men adore, In time of danger and not before.
When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.

**** nb. I no longer monitor the pm facility ****
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