A 'Convoy Escort' Medal Group of 6. Including rare example of a British medal named to a French Warship deployed in the famous PQ17 Arctic /Convoy: Chief Coastguard Ernest Charles Bowsher, Her Majesty's Coast Guard, late Royal Navy & H.M.S. La Mouline
- The 1939-45 Star
- The Atlantic Star
- The Italy Star
- Defence Medal
- War Medal
- Naval LSGC. GVI 1st type (JX.127470 E. C. Bowsher P.O. H.M.S. La Malouine)
Important: The Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal confirmed awarded on 15 May 1944 (ref ADM 171/141)
Note: H.M.S. La Malouine - a seized French Navy (Marine Nationale) warship - is confirmed as having deployed in Atlantic (including Russia bound PQ 17) & Mediterranean Convoy's
Ernest Charles Bowsher was born in Marlborough, Wiltshire, on 15 May 1911 and enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 15 July 1926. Advanced to Petty Officer, he was awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal whilst serving at H.M.S. Nile the Royal Navy shore base, Alexandria, Egypt, from where H.M.S. La Maloine was opertating from in May 1944
H.M.S. La Malouine was a Flower-class corvette of the Royal Navy, serving during the Second World War. Originally ordered by the French Navy (Marine Nationale) under the same name, following the fall of France, the ship was seized by the United Kingdom and commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1940. The corvette remained in service until being broken up in 1947
La Malouine was one of four Flower-class corvettes ordered by the Marine Nationale. Only two of these were delivered to the Marine Nationale. One of these ships was La Malouine, the other La Bastiaise. On completion by Smiths Dock Co. Ltd La Malouine sailed for Portsmouth for fitting out. It was here that she was commissioned into the Marine Nationale in June 1940. However, France surrendered to Germany on 22 June 1940. As a consequence of this event La Malouine was seized by the Royal Navy on 3 July 1940 and subsequently commissioned into the Royal Navy, by Lt. Cdr. R.W Keymer RN, on 29 July 1940. Throughout the remainder of the war La Malouine flew both the Tricolore and the White Ensign.
Of the other three ships ordered by France, La Bastiaise was destroyed by a sea mine whilst on sea trials at Hartlepool. La Dieppoise and La Pampolaise were never delivered to the Marine Nationale and were commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Fleur de Lys and HMS Nasturtium
1940 to mid 1942:
La Malouine took part in her first convoy, out of Freetown, Sierra Leone, in September 1940. At the end of September 1940 she formed part of the escort for convoy HX72, sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Eight merchant ships were lost during this convoy. La Malouine alone picking up 146 survivors from the SS Canonesa, Dalcairn, Empire Airman and the Frederick S. Fales. All these ships were sunk by the German submarine U-100. By the end of 1940 she had taken part in nine convoys.
1941 found La Malouine as a member of the 2nd Escort Group operating out of the port of Londonderry, Northern Ireland. On 7 January 1941, in company with another corvette, HMS Anemone, she assisted in the sinking of the Italian navy submarine Nani. On 5 May, during an air raid on Belfast, Northern Ireland, La Malouine was damaged by a near miss and lost two of her crew killed. This required several weeks of repair. By July she was back on active service joining convoy SL81 out of Freetown. This convoy lost six ships, including Kumasian to U-74 on 5 August 1941. La Malouine picked up 59 of the Kumasian survivors. During 1941 La Malouine escorted 10 convoys.
Between January and May 1942 La Malouine was involved in 4 convoys. In February 1942 she was at Gibraltar in company with the corvettes, Bluebell, Stonecrop, Myosotis and Carnation.
With Convoy PQ17:
In June 1942 La Malouine was assigned to the close escort group for Convoy PQ 17. Other corvettes of her class involved were HMS Dianella, HMS Lotus and HMS Poppy. The convoy left Hvalfjord on 27 June 1942 bound for Murmansk. By the time the remains of the convoy had arrived in Soviet Russia, in mid July, 25 out of 36 merchant ships had been sunk. La Malouine, along with her sister ships, survived the voyage
After PQ17 to 1945:
Following her return from Russia, in September 1942, La Malouine found herself back in the Mediterranean undertaking 4 more convoys before the end of the year.
1943 began with La Malouine escorting convoy KMS.6G during which, on 6 January, east of Algiers, the merchant vessel Benalbanach was lost along with approximately 400 lives. The period from January to June 1943 was spent escorting convoys from Freetown to Liverpool. Whilst escorting convoy OS.45, on 2 April, La Malouine picked up some of the 53 survivors from the torpedoed merchant vessel Katha, 515 kilometers (320 mi) west of Oporto. From June 1943 La Malouine returned to the Mediterranean where she escorted a further 11 convoys in addition to the six already undertaken in the first half of the year.
During 1944 La Malouine undertook escort duty on 14 convoys, covering both trans-Atlantic and Mediterranean routes. On 16 April whilst en route to Port Said La Malouine assisted in the rescue of 72 crew from the liberty ship Meyer London which had been attacked and sunk with an aerial torpedo.
Records indicate that La Malouine undertook two convoys in 1945 the last of which was from Liverpool to Gibraltar in May of that year
Scandal: See the Daily Mirror issue of 12 September 1958, which carried the scandalous news story of the 'Bigamy and Fraud' case against Bowsher's wife 'Edna Bowsher'. In 1950 Ernest had retired from the Royal Navy & took up an appointment as Chief Coastguard, at Collieston, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Ernest had married Edna locally in 1950, and together the couple had 3 x children. Notwithstanding her marriage and family with Ernest, Edna (while still married to Ernest) married Royal Marines Sergeant Donald Farley, in 1957. The 'Double Marriage' lasted a number of months, until Edna's, fraud, was revealed. The national tabloid press of the period published a number of articles on the case.....
A rare named to ship long service medal, to a seized French warship, which post 1940, flew the twin flags 'Tricolore' & 'Union Jack' during its busy war service with the Royal Navy, including the famous PQ17 Convoy - the most infamous of all Russian Convoys