A CARNOUSTIE couple who met while serving their country celebrated 60 years of marriage last week.
Philip and Sheila Bowles, both 82, met during their Royal Navy careers, and despite long stretches apart were able to bring up a large family.
Philip was born into a Navy family in Dartmouth. As a child he moved around a lot in Northern Ireland and was schooled at the Royal Hospital School in Ipswich for the children of service personnel, while Sheila was born in Dundee and educated at Stobswell.
The couple met while Philip was an aircraft artificer and Sheila an aircraft mechanic in the WRENS.
The church in which they were married, has since become a community centre, and the couple returned to Northern Ireland soon after.
Their son Iain explained: “They didn’t have a honeymoon, they went back to Northern Ireland because my grandfather was ill and rented a house in Eglinton.”
They had three children, Iain, Bill and Phillipa, and Sheila left the Navy to take care of them. The couple have eight grandchildren, Joanne, Andrew, Bethany, Nathan, Ethan, Vareek, Virgil and Verity. Sadly, Phillipa, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis passed away in August.
In 1970 Philip left the Royal Navy as a Chief Petty Officer after 24 years’ service. He had served on HMS Eagle, an Audacious class aircraft carrier and the former flagship HMS Ark Royale, an Invincible class carrier.
They moved to Carnoustie and Philip took a job at ‘HMS Michelin’, the tyre manufacturer in Dundee, so called because it attracted many former Navy personnel.
He eventually retired as a senior foreman in 1990.
Sheila took a job as a chambermaid and kitchen worker at the Bruce Hotel and later as a dinner lady at Kinloch Primary School.
Perhaps encouraged by the example set by their parents, all three children joined the Royal Navy.
Iain said: “We all followed Dad into the Navy. I did the same job as an aircraft artificer and we both ended up as Chief Petty Officers.
“Phillipa was a radar plotter and Bill was a Lieutenant, eventually becoming a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve.”
Iain said the strength of his parent’s relationship was the key to their success: “They would have been apart quite a lot when he was at sea. I remember him being away for up to six months at a time. They just understand each other’s needs. They are a pair and there is a lot of non-verbal communication there.”