Painton Cowen was one of a number of the Artists Rifles who were commissioned into the Corps early in World War II.
After 12 months in the RM Brigade he transferred to the F.A.A and learned to fly in Canada. On completion of training as a fighter pilot he served for a short while in Egypt at Dekheila before joining the pool of pilots at Wingfield in South Africa. From there he joined 888 Squadron in Formidable under the command Major F.D.G. Bird. He was a capable and popular officer but on 21 December he was unfortunately killed in a flying accident at Mers-el-Kebir after he had been flying as a target for a Fleet Gunnery training exercise. This was the result carrying out a slow roll alongside his ship when for some reason he crashed into the sea. He was buried at sea from the destroyer Laforey.