Born in Dunedin, New Zealand, Bowden received an arts degree from Canterbury University College before moving to Australia and enlisting in 1943. She was a member of the first training course for potential female officers, receiving the rank of Third Officer. By the end of the Second World War she had been promoted to First Officer and was "senior serving WRANS officer in the New South Wales command". The WRANS was disbanded in the immediate post-war period, but on its reformation in 1950 Bowden was appointed as its director, a position she held until 1954. She then moved to London and worked at the Australian High Commission, receiving the British Empire Medal in 1970.
- Libby Stewart (2014). "Australian Defence Force". The Encyclopedia of Women & Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia. Australian Women's Archives Project.
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