May 13, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 151 days
Among the many reasons our guests choose to sail with Cunard is to celebrate something special, whether it’s an anniversary, birthday, retirement or another significant event. Recently on Queen Victoria we met an extraordinary gentleman who was born in Melbourne, Australia and was about to celebrate his 100th birthday. It’s a great story which I’ll continue after this week in Cunard’s history 14 to 20 May:
|14 May 2008||Queen Victoria makes her maiden call at Valletta, Malta|
|15 May 2005||The 58th Cannes Film Festival honors George Lucas for his film career with the celebrated “Trophy of the Festival” on board Queen Mary 2, to an audience of hundreds of Cannes attendees.|
|15 May 2006||Cunard announces Queen Victoria’s maiden World Cruise|
|18 May 1972||Royal Marine Special Boat Squadron, bomb disposal team, parachute on to QE2 mid Atlantic, following a bomb scare which proved later to be a hoax|
|19 May 2006||Queen Victoria’s Keel Laying Ceremony takes place in Italy|
Mr. Daniel Bowden, who now lives in Bateau Bay, near Sydney was travelling by himself but on discussing his forthcoming voyage with his neighbours, Brian and Kathy Barnes, he found out they too were remarkably booked on the same voyage! The day’s celebrations began when Captain Rynd invited Mr. Bowden to the Bridge to press the ship’s whistle to mark noon.
Captain Rynd asked Mr. Bowden what he felt his secret to his longevity was to which he replied “Keep on keeping on and remember only the good die young!”
Daniel Bowden, who likes to be called Dan, was one of six children. Sadly his father, a Tailor, dies when he was just three so the family moved in with his grandparents in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran. As soon as he could, he got a paper round and at the age of twelve began his first job as a Pastry Cook. Then at just fifteen he began a career at sea that was to last 25 years. As a Wireless Operator, he joined the HMAS Tingira Training ship, which he told me had the nickname of “The White Lady of Rose Bay”.
During his years he sailed on numerous ships in the Australian Navy including the second HMAS Australia in 1928. One of his most memorable experiences was on HMAS Sydney in 1936, when they were given permission to visit Gallipoli, the site of such tremendous loss of life in 1915/16. He told me everything from the cemeteries and trenches had been perfectly preserved and were exactly as it had been at the end of battle in 1916. President Ataturk later made this site the National Peace Park with memorials on the Gallipoli, which guests on Queen Victoria have seen when passing through the Dardenelles. In 1975 Daniel Bowden was one of 150 Australians and 50 New Zealanders to return to commemorate the 60th anniversary.
He was brought back in to active service in the Second World War, beginning on a minesweeper in the Middle East. He became a Telegraphist Air Gunner, flying “Seagulls” and “War Horses” from HMAS Perth, and received one of only six MBE’s awarded to non commissioned officers. He was flying dawn and dusk patrols around Crete and later became what were known as the Navy Rats as they supplied ammunition and food from HMAS Stewart to the troops at Tobruk.
Sydney met his wife when he was thirty years old in what was a real whirlwind romance. She had come across from Wellington, New Zealand for a three week holiday and as he said “She never went back!” This was because they were married a week later and went on to have a son. Sadly Daniel’s wife died in 1985, but he cherishes the moments with her and enjoys spending time with his son, two grand children and his great grand children aged six and three.
After a distinguished career he left the Navy and joined the State Electricity Commission in Victoria, up to his retirement in 1970. Although Daniel is a seasoned traveller having sailed on many Cruise Ships, this was his first voyage on Cunard and as he told me on his birthday night “I’m really impressed with this ship and with Cunard”
Hotel Manager, Jacqui Hodgson had invited Mr. Bowden to a special dinner table that night in the Britannia Restaurant, where he was presented with a cake and a photo of the evening.
He told me later that the whole celebration had been beyond his expectations, and the evening was made even more special when Jacqui passed on a message of congratulations from his friend Commander Ken Burnett, which had been sent to the ship. You may have heard our waiters sing “Happy Birthday” at the table but on this occasion Patu Kerai, the Britannia Restaurant Maitre D’Hotel had arranged a special rendition of “Happy Birthday”, followed by “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” and “Waltzing Matilda”!
I later sat down with Mr. Bowden and asked him about his life and if he had any words of wisdom for me. He quoted some lines from Desiderata by Max Erhman, which I recommend you look up as a very inspirational piece. He then said, make sure you take frequent deep breaths, keep moving, don’t worry and chew your food.
What great words of advice. Thank you so much Mr. Bowden for sitting down with me a sharing your remarkable story. I’d also like to thank Marius and his team of on board photographers for being on hand to capture the occasion. Meanwhile I’ll be back on Monday with more news from Queen Elizabeth in Italy and the first pictures from the 2010 TOGs voyage which begins tomorrow. Cheers Alastair