Robert Sidney Bowen

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Robert Sidney Bowen, Jr.
New England aviators 1914-1918; their portraits and their records (1919) (14760042241).jpg
Robert Sidney Bowen, R.A.F.
Born(1900-10-04)October 4, 1900
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedApril 11, 1977(1977-04-11) (aged 76)
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
RankSecond Lieutenant
Other workJournalist and writer

Robert Sidney Bowen, Jr. (1900, October 4 – April 11, 1977) was a World War I aviator, newspaper journalist, magazine editor and author who was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and died of cancer in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the age of 76.[1] He is best known for his boys' series books written during World War II, the Dave Dawson War Adventure Series and the Red Randall Series. He also worked under the name R. Sidney Bowen and under the pseudonym James Robert Richard.[2]


Before becoming an author[edit]

Robert Sidney Bowen was born in Allston, Massachusetts to Robert Sidney and Catharine Sinclair (Fenton) Bowen.[3] His grandfather, Charles F. Bowen, fought in the Fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War. Bowen attended the Newton High School at Newton, Massachusetts. After the World War I broke out in Europe, Bowen left school to drive an ambulance for the American Field Service (AFS) in France. In May 1917, the United States Army Ambulance Service took over the AFS, and Bowen, being underage to serve, returned to the United States. When he turned seventeen, he signed up in October 1917 with the Great Britain's Royal Flying Corps in recruiting office in New York City as a Flight Cadet. He went through several phases of training, including basic military training, ground instruction, and flight instruction at Training Depot Stations (TDS),[4] in different locations, first, at Toronto University, then at Camp Mohawk, Deseronto, Canada, at Camp Leaside, Beamsville, Canada, and at Camp Taliaferro, Fort Worth, Texas.[3] According to The London Gazette, Bowen was granted a temporary commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force on June 20, 1918.[5]

In July 1918, he went overseas to England, and was assigned to the 84th Squadron, R.A.F. fighting in France on SE5 fighter aircraft.[3] He saw limited air combat over France but achieved no documented by the authorities victories despite claims of shooting down two enemy airplanes on the eve of the Armistice. He wrote to his family, "I reported my flight, but it was hard lines for me because I have no idea where the German planes went down and therefore they can't be credited as official... My bus has 33 bullet holes in it and three in my flying suit, which shows I was in some close action."[3] After the end of hostilities at the Western Front, Bowen transferred to the United States Army Air Service.[6]

After the war, Bowen began working as a journalist for the London Daily Mail, the Paris edition of the Chicago Tribune, and two Boston newspapers.[1] For several years (until the 1930s), he was editor-in-chief of Aviation Magazine. He also worked as an editor for Flying News and several motor magazines.

As an author[edit]

Bowen turned to writing in 1930, using his prestige as editor-in-chief of Aviation Magazine to write Flying From The Ground Up, a non-fiction work on how to fly an airplane. He began freelancing for pulp magazines. In 1934, he started his own pulp magazine, Dusty Ayres And His Battle Birds, for Popular Publications. Twelve issues were released, the first eleven published monthly from July 1934 through July 1935, with most issues released monthly. Bowen continued writing for mystery, adventure, sports, and aviation pulp magazines through the 1950s.

After the invasion of Poland by Germany in 1939 sparked World War II, Crown Publishers called Bowen, asking for an adventure story based on the war.[7] The Dave Dawson series , also known as the War Adventure series, was the result. Bowen got to work immediately, and the first book, Dave Dawson At Dunkirk, was published in 1941. A total of 15 volumes were released between 1941 and 1946.

By 1945 the series had sold over 2,000,000 copies. Bowen was earning 2​12 cents per copy sold, netting him nearly $10,000 a year.[7] All volumes, except for the scarce final volume, were subsequently reprinted (with cheaper quality and prices) by Saalfield Publishers in Akron, Ohio.

Inspired by the success of the Dave Dawson books, Crown's competing publisher Grosset & Dunlap hired Bowen to write a similar series for them. The Red Randall series debuted in 1944, selling 200,000 copies its first year.[7]

During this time, Bowen lived in Wilton, Connecticut, writing seven days a week, from 9 to 5, in an office that he rented over an old garage. He averaged 10,000 words per day, and could complete a novel in ten days.[7] He also never revised his work, believing that any tampering with the story would ruin it.[2]

After the war, Bowen turned to writing books aimed toward adolescent boys, on topics such as aviation, cars, and baseball. He also began writing books about horses under the pseudonym James Robert Richard. Most of the books he wrote during this period were published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. Many of his baseball books were later reprinted by Grosset & Dunlap in their series of "Famous Sports Stories." Most of his other books were published by Chilton, Whitman Publishing, Criterion.

Robert Sidney Bowen and his second wife, MaryAnn (MacIntyre) Bowen, had two sons, James Sinclair Bowen and Richard Fenton Bowen, and one daughter, Virginia Bowen, and, at the time of his death, five grandchildren, Katherine Ann Bowen, Thomas Robert Bowen, Cheryl L. Bowen, Wayne Tucker, and Linda. Robert Sidney Bowen was first married to Marjorie Percy Bowen and had a son Robert Watson Bowen who has three children Greg, Jennifer and Beth.

Partial bibliography[edit]

Series Books[edit]

Dusty Ayres And His Battle Birds[edit]

Date Title
July 1934 Black Lightning
August 1934 Crimson Doom
September 1934 Purple Tornado
October 1934 The Screaming Eye
November 1934 The Green Thunderbolt
December 1934 The Red Destroyer
January 1935 The White Death
February 1935 The Black Avenger
March 1935 The Silver Typhoon
April 1935 The Troposphere F-S
May–June 1935 The Blue Cyclone
July–August 1935 The Telsa Raiders

Dave Dawson War Adventure Series[edit]

Year Title
1941 Dave Dawson at Dunkirk
1941 Dave Dawson with the R.A.F.
1941 Dave Dawson in Libya
1941 Dave Dawson on Convoy Patrol
1941 Dave Dawson Flight Lieutenant
1942 Dave Dawson At Singapore
1942 Dave Dawson With The Pacific Fleet
1942 Dave Dawson With The Air Corps
1942 Dave Dawson With The Commandos
1943 Dave Dawson On The Russian Front
1943 Dave Dawson With The Flying Tigers
1943 Dave Dawson On Guadalcanal
1944 Dave Dawson At Casablanca
1944 Dave Dawson With The Eighth Air Force
1946 Dave Dawson At Truk

Red Randall Series[edit]

Year Title
1944 Red Randall At Pearl Harbor
1944 Red Randall On Active Duty
1944 Red Randall Over Tokyo
1944 Red Randall At Midway
1944 Red Randall On New Guinea
1945 Red Randall In The Aleutians
1945 Red Randall In Burma
1946 Red Randall's One-Man War

Non-Series Books[edit]

Using Real Name[edit]

Year Title Publisher
1931 Flying From The Ground Up McGraw
1948 The Winning Pitch Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1949 Player, Manager Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1949 Fourth Down Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1950 Ball Hawk' Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1950 Blocking Back Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1951 Hot Corner Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1951 Touchdown Kid Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1952 Canyon Fury Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1952 Pitcher Of The Year Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1953 Behind The Bat Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1954 Infield Spark Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1954 The Million-Dollar Fumble Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1955 The Big Inning Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1955 The Last White Line Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1956 The 4th Out Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1957 No Hitter Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1958 The Big Hit Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1959 Triple Play Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1960 Hot Rod Angels Chilton
1960 Pennant Fever Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1961 Million-Dollar Rookie Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1961 The Airport, Our Link To The Sky Whitman
1962 Bat Boy Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1962 Flight Into Danger Chilton
1962 Wings For An Eagle Chilton
1963 Hot Rod Fury
1963 Perfect Game Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1963 Dirt Track Danger Doubleday
1963 They Found The Unknown: The Stories Of Nine Great Discoveries In The Field Of Medical Knowledge Macrae
1964 Hot Corner Blues Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1964 Hot Rod Rodeo Criterion
1965 Rebel Rookie Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1965 They Flew To Glory: The Story Of The Lafayette Flying Corps Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1966 Hot Rod Patrol Criterion
1966 Man On First Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1967 Hot Rod Showdown Criterion
1967 Lightning Southpaw Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1968 Hot Rod Outlaws Chilton
1969 Wipeout Criterion
1969 Hawaii Five-O: Top Secret Whitman
1969 Infield Flash Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1971 Born To Fly Criterion
1973 Hot Rod Doom Criterion

Using pseudonym James Robert Richard[edit]

Year Title Publisher
1950 The Club Team Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1952 Fighting Halfback Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1953 Quarterback, All-American Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1954 Phantom Mustang Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1955 The Purple Palomino Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1956 The Appaloosa Curse Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1957 Snow King, Lipizzan Horse Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1958 Double M For Morgans Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
1959 Joker, The Polo Pony Lothrop, Lee & Shepard


  1. ^ a b Obituary, The New York Times, 14 April 1977.
  2. ^ a b "Bowen, Robert Sydney" (sic), Something About The Author, ed. Anne Commire. Vol. 52. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988, pp. 24–26.
  3. ^ a b c d Ticknor, Caroline. New England Aviators, 1914-1918: Their Portraits and Their Records. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co, 1919, p. 90.
  4. ^ First World War, RAF Museum
  5. ^ The London Gazette, 6 August, 1918, p. 9270, "The undermentioned Flight Cadets are granted temp. commns. as 2nd Lts. (A.): Robert Sidney Bowen".
  6. ^ Sloan, James J. Wings of Honor, American Airmen in World War I: A Compilation of All United States Pilots, Observers, Gunners and Mechanics Who Flew against the Enemy in the War of 1914-1918. Atglen, Pa: Schiffer Military/Aviation History, 1994.
  7. ^ a b c d Meeker, Oden & Olivia. "For Boys Only." Collier's Weekly. 24 November 1945.

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