Nigel was the elder son of the Rector of Wallingford, the Reverend Herbert Patrick Bowen and his wife, Stella Maud Greenstreet. He was born in Wallingford in 1919.

He was educated at Christ Church Choir School and St. Edward’s School, Oxford. [Tilly's House] from 1934-1938. He was a House Prefect, in the choir and a lance corporal in the O.T.C. His younger brother, Oliver, also attended the school.

He joined the RAF on a short service commission in February 1939. Three weeks later, he undertook his first solo flight. In August 1939, he was appointed a Pilot Officer after 6 months probation and was posted to 266 Squadron at Sutton Bridge, early in 1940.

On 2 June over Dunkirk, he damaged a Me109 and on 12 August he claimed a Ju88 destroyed. Four days later, at 12.45 on 16 August in Spitfire N3095, he was shot down and killed during combat with Me109s, crashing in flames at Adisham, Kent.

He is buried in Wallingford Cemetery Sec. R. Grave 60.

He is commemorated on the Battle of Britain London Monument and on the Wallingford War Memorial.