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Jackson, Peter Bowen (1918–1993)

by David Wilson

This article was published online in 2017

Peter Bowen Jackson (1918–1993), air force officer and bank officer, was born on 17 July 1918 at Launceston, Tasmania, son of Victorian-born Stanley Bowen Jackson, electrician, and his locally born wife Vera Gladys, née Connell,  nurse. In 1924 the family moved to Camberwell, Victoria. Peter was educated at Box Hill High School where he was an outstanding sportsman, captaining the cricket XI and Australian Rules football XVIII. His leadership potential was further recognised by his appointment as a prefect and, in 1935, as captain of the school’s Deakin House. Having been awarded the school Leaving certificate, he commenced employment as a clerk with the National Bank of Australasia (NBA), Melbourne. He also became an assistant scoutmaster, winning the King’s scout badge. After World War II broke out in 1939, he served part time (1940–41) in the Citizen Military Forces with the 65th Anti-Aircraft Company, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.

Standing at six feet one inch (185 cm) tall, with fair hair and hazel eyes, Jackson enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 10 October 1941. After attending training schools at Essendon and in New South Wales at Temora, he was posted to Canada where he underwent further training. He arrived in Britain on 16 December 1942. Having completed operational training, he joined No. 102 Squadron, Royal Air Force, on 12 August 1943 and was promoted to flight sergeant on the same day. The squadron operated Halifax bombers, and was engaged in attacking targets in Germany and occupied Europe. On 12 October he was commissioned.

During the night of 22–23 October, Jackson flew one of 562 aircraft that attacked Kassel, Germany, headquarters of Wehrkreis (military district) IX, and the site of a sub-camp of Dachau concentration camp. Although one engine failed on the outward flight, ‘undeterred … he continued to the target and bombed it from a low level. His effort was typical of the determination he has shown throughout his tour of operations’ (London Gazette 1943). He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. An acting flight lieutenant from January 1944, Jackson was promoted to flying officer in April. On 30 June he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for having ‘completed many successful operations against the enemy in which he has displayed high skill, fortitude and devotion to duty’ (NAA A9300).

From May 1944 to January 1945 Jackson served as an instructor at No. 27 Operational Training Unit, where he continued to impress, being described by his commanding officer as ‘a good conversion instructor … keen and conscientious … who has been an asset to the unit’ (NAA A9300). Jackson returned to Australia in January 1946, and his RAAF appointment terminated on 26 February. In May he rejoined the NBA. Appointed to the relieving staff, he became a teller in the following month. On 17 January 1948 he married Margaret Ellen Gray, a teacher, at St Kilda Presbyterian Church. By the time he retired in July 1980 he had risen to officer-in–charge of the bank’s share and debenture registry. He died on 19 August 1993 at Clayton and was cremated. His wife, their three daughters, and two of their three sons survived him.

Research edited by Brian Wimborne

Select Bibliography

  • Argus (Melbourne). ‘He Had Scores to Settle with the Nazis.’ 12 August 1944, Week-End Magazine 5

  • London Gazette. 23 November 1943, 5133

  • London Gazette. 30 June 1944, 3090

  • Middlebrook, Martin, and Chris Everitt. The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 1939-1945. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Viking, 1985

  • National Archives of Australia. A9300, Jackson, Peter Bowen

Additional Resources

Citation details

David Wilson, 'Jackson, Peter Bowen (1918–1993)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/jackson-peter-bowen-18086/text29663, published online 2017, accessed online 20 October 2019.

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