top of page

Wing Commander - Phillip Walter HOWSON

459 RAAF Squadron

Service No. 222

Date of Birth: 22 Oct 1918

Place of Birth: SYDNEY, NSW

Date of Enlistment: 21 Jul 1937

Date of Discharge: 1 Jul 1947

Rank: Wing Commander

WW2 Honours and Gallantry: OBE (1 Jan 1943)

Date of Death: 20 Dec 1994

<<<<< >>>>>

  • Squadron Leader Phil Howson

  • Sergeant Neil 'Dooley' Powell (Nav)

  • Sergeant Neil Martin (WOP/AG)

  • Sergeant Alan Norton-Baker (WOP/AG)

L-R: Sergeant Neil Martin (WOP/AG); Sergeant Neil 'Dooley' Powell (Nav); Squadron Leader Phil Howson (Pilot) and Sergeant Alan Norton-Baker (WOP/AG)


<<<<< >>>>>


The following information has been forwarded onto our Association by his son Phil Howson.


"Phil was keen to fly from a very early age and joined the permanent airforce in 1937 as a Cadet Pilot, 1FTS RAAF Point Cook, and graduated in June 1938 from No.22 Course as a Pilot Officer.


Howson was promoted at the young age of 22 years to Flight Lieutenant and completed his service with the RAAF attaining the rank of Wing Commander aged 26 years.


Howson served successively in RAAF Squadrons 4,23,8,2,6 and 23 Sqn again, flying a variety of aircraft, before being posted to overseas Exchange Duties with the RAF 201 Group in November 1941, and ultimately to 459 Squadron ME.


Squadron Leader P.W. Howson was the temporary CO of 459 Squadron in the Middle East at Burg-el-Arab from December 1941 when the squadron was formed up, until Keith Hennock arrived in April 1942.


Phil Howson again assumed command of 459 Sqn in September 1942 after Hennock’s departure which he held until October 1943 when he handed the baton to Pete Henderson.


The Squadron had flown over 6500 hours for the year to June 1943 with an aircraft serviceability of 98% - a pretty outstanding record for all the Squadron to be proud of!


This great achievement was noted in a message received from the Air Officer Commanding Middle East Command who wrote -

“Once again 459 and 454 Squadrons are to be congratulated on their effort, not only for this month but also for the quarter. In view of the large amount of night flying carried out by 459 Squadron, theirs is a really fine record which should be the aim of all other units”.


January 1944 saw Phil awarded the Order of the British Empire (Military) for his services, perhaps in part recognizing the Squadron’s flying record during 1943.


During early 1944 Howson returned via RAAF Overseas HQ London to Australia where he served at RAAF Headquarters and completed RAAF Staff School.


In December 1944, Phil knew he would not be posted overseas again in the foreseeable future and elected to transfer to the RAAF Reserve in February 1945 and join the fledgling Qantas Airways as a pilot.


Post war, Phil operated as a Captain with Qantas, flying converted Lancasters and the Constellations, mainly on the international route to London.


During his time with Qantas, Phil was promoted to Operations Manager, then Director of Technical Services, and finally to Deputy General Manager of Qantas before retiring in 1976.


Phil always kept up his friendships with his great friends from RAAF days and Qantas was a great medium to keep that cameraderie strong.


After retirement from Qantas, he enjoyed other roles with Air Pacific Fiji, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Commonwealth Inquiry into the Bureau of Meteorology and the Sir Robert Menzies Trust Appeal which all kept him in the mix with flying.


Phil died in Dec 1994 and was survived by his wife Jean and daughter Christine and son Phillip."

bottom of page