Frank E. Bowles
Biography: Frank Edward Bowles was born on September 25, 1919, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the son of Frank Ephraim Bowles and Rosa Beckley and attended local schools through the 9th grade.
Frank started working as a jockey, racing thoroughbred horses, while he was still a teenager. In April of 1941, Frank married the former Opal Geneva Grant, who was born in Ohio. The couple would have a daughter, Sharon, born in January, 1942.
Service Time: Frank entered the service on July 14, 1942, at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. After his initial training, he was assigned to the Reconnaissance Company of the 692nd Tank Destroyer Battalion. The unit was initially designated as a self-propelled battalion, but in March of 1944, they converted to a towed battalion, utilizing towed 3″ guns.
He trained with the battalion and during that period, Frank distinguished himself by qualifying as an Expert with the pistol and a Sharpshooter with the rifle.
The 692nd shipped out from the New York port on September 12th, 1944, aboard the HMS Scythia and arrived in England on the 22nd. The next day they departed for France, arriving at Cherbourg, France, on the 23th but didn’t disembark until the 25th. They entered the line near Wustwezel, Belgium, about October 28th and fought along the Siegfried Line, in the vicinity of Stolberg, beginning in November.
They occupied defensive positions along the Roer River during the Battle of the Bulge and converted to the M36 tank destroyer in February, 1945. The 692nd supported the drive from the Roer to the Rhine River in late February and early March, and helped capture Cologne, Germany. After clearing more Siegfried Line fortifications, they crossed the Rhine at Worms on March 31st and raced across Germany in April, participating in the capture of Furth.
The photo above left was taken in 1942, while Frank and the 692nd were stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The photo above right was taken after Frank had returned home after the war. Note the 104th Infantry (Timberwolves) Division patch on his sleeve. The 692nd was attached the the 104th during the war.
Frank received credit for each of the unit’s campaigns of the Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. He was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic achievement while in Germany and also received a Purple Heart. Additionally, he was awarded the EAME, the WWII Victory and the Good Conduct Medals. He left the service at the rank of Technician 5th Grade.
Now back in the U.S, Frank returned to work as a jockey. His work required him to travel from state to state, which was difficult on the family. His first marriage would end amicably, soon after the war, but while riding at Arlington Park, near Chicago, he met Vivian Cherwin. The two would marry on September 6, 1947, at the Irving Park Lutheran Church in Chicago. The new couple had two children, Patricia, born in 1950, and Edward in 1956. The family continued to travel, following the racing circuit which included the states of Illinois, Kentucky, California, New York, Louisiana and Florida.
The photo above left was taken sometime in the 1960’s, while Frank was working in Chicago as an outrider, being responsible for maintaining a safe environment at the track during morning workouts and live racing. The picture on right was taken in 1957, at an obviously happy occasion.
As the years went on, Frank became a parimutuel clerk, assisting race-goers to place wagers as well as performing other gaming duties around the tracks. In his spare time, Frank enjoyed playing golf, bowling and softball.
Sometime after 1969, Frank married again, to Vera, and they would eventually retire to Arizona. Frank passed away on July 18, 1987, and was buried in the Green Acres Memorial Park in Scottsdale, AZ, I want to thank Frank’s daughter, Patricia, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.