Image from the Evening Star of William taken while he was in training – 4th December 1941


Born: 17th March 1922, Ipswich.

Died: 1st December 1941; age: 19. Failed to return from a lone Mediterranean reconnaissance.

Residence: ‘Sunbank’ 87, Grove Lane, Ipswich.

Employed: as a Clerk at the Ipswich office of Employers’ Liability Assurance Corporation Ltd.


As soon as William turned 18 he went to the Recruiting Office to join the R.A.F. He was sent home on deferred service. He went to his unit in September, 1940, and gained his wings in June, 1941 – and posted to a squadron in the Middle East.


Rank: Sergeant/Pilot; Service Number: 1160291.

Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 39 Squadron. Coastal Command.


Memorial Reference:

Column 243.

Alamein Memorial,

El Alamein,




Father: Tom Rowbotham, born 1885, Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire. A Sales Manager.

Mother: Alice Maud Rowbotham (nee Sims), 1885, Ipswich.


William was educated at Ipswich School.



William was a Clerk – Insurance Office. He was living with his parents & sister at their family home – 87, Grove Lane, Ipswich.

Tom, a Buyer – Wholesale Confectionery.

Alice, unpaid Domestic Duties.

Pearl A. Rowbotham, at School, born April 1928, Ipswich.


Probate to Thomas Rowbotham – father, a Sales Manager.


William is also remembered on the Ipswich School Chapel war memorial.


30th November 1941 – 1st December 1941

Aircraft – Beaufort I, Serial number: W6496. Shot down in the sea off Crete on a night patrol – 30th November/1st December 1941.


Norman Frederick Sewell; Sergeant; age 20; R.A.F.V.R.

Philip Alan Goodley; Sergeant; age 21; R.A.F.V.R.

Photograph of James courtesy of Susan.

James Herbert Killick; Sergeant; age 21; R.A.F.V.R.

Evening Star – 29th June 1942



Previously reported missing whilst on an operational flight over the Mediterranean in December, 1941, Sergeant-Pilot William Donald Rowbothm, of Ipswich, is now officially presumed to have

lost his life.

Aged 19, Sergt. Rowbotham was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. T. Rowbotham, of 87, Grove Lane, Ipswich. Educated at Ipswich School, he spent about two years with the Employers’ Liabillity Assurance Corporation, and as soon as he was 18 went to the Recruiting Office to join the R.A.F. He was sent home on deferred service, went to his unit in September, 1940, and gained his wings in June, 1941. He was subsequently posted to a squadron in the Middle East.

His Wing-Commander wrote of him that he had done some very good work, both on the ground and in the air, that he was a first-class pilot and keen on any operational flight that was going.

Memorial card courtesy of Susan.

One Comment

  • Part of the crew on the reconnaissance trip piloted by William Donald Rowbotham on December 1st 1941 was my uncle James Herbert Killick.

    I have a copy of the memorial card issued by William’s family. My daughter has subsequently found the article on the Ipswich Memorial site.

    I have been searching for information regarding his time in the R.A.F. and amazed to read the obituary of the pilot after all these years.


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