V FORCE Gebhard, John Leslie

John Robertson

Staff member
John Leslie
  • UNIT
V Force
  • RANK
Military Cross
Burma 1944-45
parent unit Royal Warwickshire Regiment
born 12.7.1915 Natal,South Africa
son of Norman and Florence (nee Bowen) Gebhard
parents divorced and he returned to UK with his mother 1923
resided Edgbaston,Birmingham
preparatory school,Malvern and public school,Bromsgrove
sub-editor,Continental Daily Mail,Paris
graduated St John's College,Cambridge 1936-38
articled clerk,Parson Lee and Company (solicitors) 1938
Honourable Artillery Company
Cadet,162 OCTU
commissioned 15.12.1939 2/Lt Royal Warwickshire Regiment
5/16 Punjab Regiment,Indian Army 1942
V Force 1944-45
changed his surname to Bowen 1947
Legal Civil Servant,Customs and Excise (awarded OBE)
M.O.D. Legal Advisor to Joint Services Liaison Organisation) 1970
retired to Dorset 1977
author of Undercover in the Jungle (1978)
married Elaine Winbolt Lewis 1941 (3 sons)
died 2000 Salisbury,Wiltshire


Military Cross : During the period under review 16 May - 15 Aug this officer has been engaged on guerilla parachute operations behind enemy lines in the KAREN HILLS.

On May 6th he, with his 8 men, were dropped at the wrong D.Z. within ¾ mile of 200 advancing enemy. He quickly collected and buried containers of arms, stores etc, dropped with the party and let them cross country out of the trap laid by the enemy.

He constructed a light airstrip at LIPEYKHI which was being continually overrun by large parties of Japs making their way to the East. Over one period he fighting a running battle in this area for 8 days till his ammunition was exhausted and his camp overrun. He then withdrew into the hills till supplies could be sent into him. He then returned to the airstrip.

Rifle and mortar fire were almost as daily occurance in this officers area, yet he enrolled, trained and encouraged Guerillas, received food by S.D. for himself and the local population under the enemies eyes and kept the morale of his troops, levies and locals on top.

His example of outstanding leadership, following continuous operations since 1942, first in the ARAKAN then IMPHAL and leading patrols ahead of our regular troops across the CHINDWIN and IRRAWADDY River has been of the highest order.

This officer has now completed 3½ years of almost continuous active operations in the Field.


Last edited by a moderator: