Neil Boden was born on 27 May 1931 at Cairns, Nth Qld, and enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy, at Melbourne, on 12 May 1952, for 6 years. O/N R47468. His mother Mabel Boden is listed as next-of-kin. At the time the RAN was actively seeking direct entry Naval Airman Trainees for RAN Fleet Air Arm, which is the branch Boden volunteered for.
On 12 May 1952 Boden was drafted to HMAS Cerberus (FND) on Western Port Bay, south of Melbourne, to begin basic training as a naval recruit then for Aircrew assessment. Having passed the necessary qualifications on 12 August 1952 he was rated Probational Naval Airman (Aircrew) and drafted to the RAAF base at Archerfield, near Brisbane, where he was enrolled in the No.1 Flying Training School to commence training as a pilot. The course covered flight theory and aeronautical knowledge, followed by practical exercises flying the DH 82 Tiger Moth.
After reaching the required standard and necessary hours on Tiger Moths, Boden was transferred to RAAF Uranquinty, in country NSW, joining the No.1 Basic Flying School for further weapons and combat training in the more powerful Wirraway aircraft. After graduating on 15 September 1953 with his ‘wings’, Boden transferred to HMAS Cerberus for a Divisional Course and to be promoted Acting Sub-Lieutenant (P). His next move was to the UK for advanced training with the RN FAA, embarking on RMS Strathmore at Port Melbourne on 22 September 1953, for passage.
Boden arrived in the UK on 25 October 1953 and was posted to HMS Seahawk (RNAS Culdrose), near Helston, Cornwall. At HMS Seahawk he joined the Operational Flying School Part 1 Course. This included developing his flying skills, defensive techniques, weapons training, fleet exercises and deck landing on an aircraft carrier. The course was intense, and involved anti-submarine exercises with long-range flights over the ocean in a Fairey Firefly aircraft.
On 9 December 1953, Acting Sub-Lieutenant (P) Neil Boden RAN, while flying a Firefly on an anti sub-marine exercise along the East Coast of Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula, was reported overdue. Although a wide area search over land and sea was conducted, no trace of Boden or his aircraft was discovered, and he was declared ‘missing presumed dead’.
Complied by Kim Dunstan from the following References:
National Archives of Australia – some records are illegible