24.03.1941 No. 222 Squadron Spitfire IIa P7847 Sgt. Freddie Cockram
Operation: Shipping cover
Date: 24th March 1941 (Monday)
Unit: No. 22 Squadron (Natal)
Type: Spitfire IIa
Code: Not known
Base: RAF Coltishall, Norfolk
Location: Salhouse, Norfolk
Pilot: Sgt. ‘Freddie’ Frederick John Cockram 903440 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Understood to have been on the second sortie of the day. He had been flying with 24 year old, Fl/Lt. Brian Van Mentz DFC 70826 RAFVR (1) as top cover for a shipping operation. Both pilots climbed to 20.000 ft when Fl/Lt. van Menz looked back, Sgt. Cockram was no longer behind him.
The next anyone saw of P7847 was when it broke cloud cover at about 7.000 ft - diving, with various parts of the aircraft broken off including the tail unit. The Spitfire crashed, catching fire, killing the pilot within the grounds of Salford Hall near Norwich. It was reported at the time that the canopy was missing and that the pilot had not attempted to leave the aircraft - his helmet was later recovered near the village pond in Salhouse.
Note: It is thought that quite probable the pilot suffered oxygen starvation due to equipment malfunction, an all to common occurrence with fighter pilots - many such accidents easily blamed on ‘pilot error’ at the time!
(1) Fl/Lt. Brian Van Mentz DFC was killed the following month. He was with a group of pilots from the Squadron when the Luftwaffe dropped several bombs on the Norfolk village. One hit the Ferry Inn in Horning - 3 members of the squadron were among the 22 people killed. We hope to create a page for Fl/Lt. Brian van Mentz with information submitted by David Cochrane shortly.
Sgt. Frederick John Cockram. Eastwood Churchyard, (St. Laurence And All Saints). Grave C.8.44. Son of Edwin Percy (died 24th December 1945 - age 61) and Hannah Jane Cockram (died 24th December 1966 - age 66), of Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, England.
Other loss mentioned within this page:
Fl/Lt. Brian Van Mentz DFC. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 25.A.9. The son of Major Sidney van Mentz (Adjutant of the Witwatersrand Rifles - killed in action in WW1) and Rosine Van Mentz, nephew of Samuel Mence, of Burghclere, Hampshire, England. Native of South Africa - jewish. Grave inscription reads: "So Greatly Loved, Young Fearless And Happy. One Of The Few."
Researched by David Cochrane - his father the cousin of the pilot - dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to sources as quoted below. We welcome of course any new information on the deaths of these two fighter pilots. With thanks also to the Battle of Britain Monument website for some details.