Hamilton graphic artist-turned-author, Richard Stowers is in the midst of writing a book about the man who inspired his interest in heroic Kiwis.
Richard has written books about the men who fought and died in Northern Hemisphere skies more than half a century ago, but he has never written about his real hero; his father Robert Stowers.
Former bomber pilot Bob Stowers died four years ago. He was typically a man who shared few of his wartime recollections. Many of his Bomber Command experiences over North Africa and the Middle East went with him.
Thankfully, Richard managed to catalogue as much information as he could during some limited interview sessions as his father grew older.
Bob was one of 34 trained RNZAF airmen who were seconded to the RAF and sailed to their World War II adventure on the Melbourne Star. Of the shipment of pilots, 14 were killed on active service.
Richard's father-in-law, Ray Ferri, also trained as a pilot and saw service in the European theatre. Of the 13 pilots in that intake, he was the only one to survive.
As Richard gets to grips with his latest book, a couple of his earlier works are about to take off in Europe.
Wing Leader Publishing, specialists in aviation books, militaria, collectables and art, will soon be releasing re-jigged versions of his books on the British and European markets. The move will expose the skillful deeds of the Kiwi pilots to a huge new audience and could spark renewed interest in more of Richard's published work covering Forest Rangers, Gallipoli, Waikato Troopers, von Tempsky and daredevil Kiwis in offshore conflict.
The two books to be released are Bomber Barron, Richard Stowers' story of the exploits of Wing Commander James Fraser Barron DSO, DFC, DFM who died in active service on his 79th bombing raid in 1944, and Cobber Kain - an overview of the life and times of 'fighter ace' Flying Officer Cobber 'Eddie' Kain DFC (Edgar James Kain) who died in 1940 at the age of 21 in one of his beloved Hawker Hurricanes.
Both books cover the early lives of the pilots and how they came to be involved in the European conflict. Both are filled with photographs as the men grew to adulthood and more graphic pictures of their wartime flying, their mates and crews and the aircraft they flew - Lancaster bombers for Fraser Barron and Hurricane fighters for Eddie Kain.
Barron was an influential leader and Kain a spontaneous and admired dog fighter - the RAF's first wartime fighter 'ace'. But their flying ability and human qualities were not enough to save them from becoming yet even more statistics, and heroes, of the last great war.
Richard's catalogue of books includes Kiwi Versus Boer (New Zealanders in the South African conflict); Forest Rangers (Kiwi bush battlers); Rough Riders at War (New Zealanders in the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 and biographical information on all members of the 10 New Zealand contingents), Bloody Gallipoli - a defining work which details the day of every Kiwi soldier's death, Blue Devils (history of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in the New Zealand Wars including detailed medal rolls), Waikato Troopers (the history of cavalry and mounted rifles in the Waikato from 1860 through to the present day), Bomber Barron, Cobber Kain and Von Tempsky and the Forest Rangers (a history of the Forest Rangers during the New Zealand Wars).