Robert Bower was born 9 June 1894, the only son of the late Sir Robert Lister Bower, KBE, CMG, and Annette Norah, daughter of the late Henry Head, of Thornhill, Bray, County Wicklow [Ireland]. He was educated at Cheam School and the Royal Naval Colleges at Osborne [Isle of Wight] and Dartmouth [Devon] and in 1922 married Henrietta, 4th daughter of the 1st Baron Strickland, GCMG; they had one son and seven daughters.
Bower joined the Royal Navy in 1907, and served throughout the First World War, being present at the Battle of Jutland while aboard HMS Inconstant, and then serving in submarines, between 1916 and 1918. He was then promoted to be Flag-Lieutenant to the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth [Vice-Admiral Sir Stanley Colville], from 1918 to 1919, before returning to sea in HMS Iron Duke in Turkey and South Russia, 1919-1921. Bower was attached to the RAF Staff College in 1928, retiring in 1931, but returned to service at the outbreak of the Second World War, with RAF Coastal Command, and at sea escorting convoys. After his retirement in 1931, Bower became Unionist MP for Cleveland [Yorkshire], holding the seat until 1945. He also worked as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Society for Individual Freedom, between 1950 and 1953.
Bower's publications include his memoirs and occasional contributions to various reviews and the press. He died on 5 July 1975.
Commander Bower's papers consist of press cuttings and correspondence with some of the leading naval figures of the time, chiefly dating from the Second World War and the late 1930's. Subjects covered by the correspondence chiefly include concerns about the state of the Navy (particularly its relations with the Royal Air Force) and also criticism of the leadership of Winston Churchill.
The papers were given to Churchill Archives Centre in July 1990 by Commander Bower's daughter, Mrs Anne Doyne-Ditmas.
The collection is owned by Churchill College.
The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Churchill Archives Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. A prior appointment and two forms of identification are required.
Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.
Please cite as Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Commander Robert Bower, BOWR