Top Warfare student receives late commander’s sword

By Mandy Shearing
THE successes of Lieutenant Commander Abbi Reid were recognised recently when she was awarded the Bowen Sword by the family of the Commander who donated it.
Commander Geoff Bowen joined the Royal Navy in 1963 as an Artificer Apprentice but in 1979, keen to push himself towards a new challenge, he successfully applied for a commission as a Special
Duties (SD) gunnery officer, following in his father’s footsteps.
In September 1981, he was awarded Top Special Duties candidate following his warfare training at HMS Dryad and was subsequently presented with a sword. Following his ultimate promotion to commander, he introduced selective promotion for all ratings and created the title of senior upper yardman (SUY), also raising the upper age limit for SUYs from 34 to 41.
Cdr Bowen, who was a keen member of HMS Collingwood’s Officers’ Association, sadly passed away in May 2022 and his family very kindly donated his treasured sword to be awarded to the top
principal weapon officer (PWO) who in 2022 was Lieutenant Commander Abbi Reid.
Lt Cdr Reid joined HMS Raleigh in July 2004 as an operator mechanic and went on to specialise in Electronic Warfare. Following three stints in the Gulf she completed PO(EW) course
and, whilst serving in HMS Somerset, was awarded a 1* Joint Commanders Commendation. She attended PWO course in July 2018 where she earned the Top PWO student award before joining
HMS Dragon.
Regretfully, Abbi was unable to attend HMS Collingwood’s Ceremonial Divisions and Prize Giving last summer and so the Bowen sword was received on her behalf by Lt Cdr Hannah Lee.
However, the family were keen to meet Abbi and present her with Commander Bowen’s sword in person.
Mrs Mary Bowen, Geoff’s widow, said: “Presenting the sword today means a lot to me because this is what Geoff wanted. He also said he wanted it to be presented to the top senior upper yardman from the PWO’s course and he would have been delighted that the recipient is female.”
His daughter, Laura Watson, agreed, saying: “It was very important to him to be able to continue his legacy and, through the passing-on of his sword, it will carry on.”
And Abbi said: “From the stories I’ve heard about Geoff, I feel we would definitely have got on! It’s a real honour and I’m very humbled to receive his sword, meet his family and hear more about Geoff. It’s been a privilege to hear how my career has reflected his. It’s a real pleasure to accept this and it will have pride of place above my mantlepiece.”
PICTURED: From left, main image, Lt Cdr Jim Langley, Laura Watson, Mary Bowen, Lt Cdr Abbi Reid, Captain Tim Davey and Caroline Davey. Inset, Mrs Mary BowenSword for top student Abbi presents top PWO student Lt Cdr Abbi Reid with her late husband’s sword. Photographs courtesy of Keith Woodland, Crown copyright