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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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102 Squadron Crest
19/20.05.1940 No. 102 Squadron Whitley V N1417 DY-B P/O. Cogman

Operation: Synthetic Oil Plant at Buer

Date: 19/20th May 1940 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 102 Squadron

Type: Whitley V

Serial: N1417

Code: DY-B

Base: RAF Driffield, Yorkshire

Location: De Klef north east of Milheeze, Netherlands

Pilot: P/O. William Curwin Gavine Cogman 39274 RAF Age 27. Evaded capture (1)

Pilot: P/O. Leonard Miller 40411 RAF Age 21. PoW No: 24 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan - L3 (2)

Obs: Sgt. Kenneth Victor Thrift 580889 RAF Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: LAC. J.R. Nicholson 620766 RAF PoW No: 13040 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug - L6

W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC2. E.H. Bros 633782 RAF PoW No: 13043 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug - L6


A bomber force of some 78 aircraft were briefed to attack a wide range of targets both at the battle grounds in France and Belgium, the oil plant as well as communications and other industrial targets in Germany.

Taking off from RAF Driffield in Yorkshire at 20:00 to bomb the Synthetic Oil Factory in Buer. Understood to have been hit by flak and came down on farmland at around 23:30 hrs.

(1) On the 08/09th September 1939, P/O. William Curwin Gavine Cogman was forced down by Belgian fighters (then a neutral country) in a 102 Squadron Whitley III K8985 DY-J. All his crew survived but then interned by the Belgian authorities. Only after intervention from the British Ambassador offering his apologies were the crew released.

After the incident as described on this page P/O. Cogman managed to evade capture and boarded the SS. Abukir from Ostend also carrying large numbers of the British Expeditionary Force withdrawing from France and Belgium. The Luftwaffe bombed the ship for over an hour but failed to make any hits. At 01:15 hrs the Kriegsmarine E-boat, S-34 gave chase, although the ships captain managed to make a zig-zag course to try and ram the S-34. But the 8 knot top speed of the steam ship was no match S-34 fired two torpedoes - the first missed, the second hit the coaster amidships - sinking her within minutes, 24 survived out of the estimated 500 people on board.

(2) After his release, Leonard Miller transferred to the RNZAF and served with 74 Squadron. The then Fl/Lt. Leonard Miller NZ/2451 was killed on the 02nd January 1946. Flying a Meteor F.III EE335 took off at about 10:55 hrs making a low level pass over the airfield at Warmwell an hour later, followed by a climbing roll into cloud at 2,000 ft. He emerged from that in a vertical dive and crashed into the ground close to Moreton Crossroads east of the airfield. He had 713 flying hours logged with 32 of these on the Meteor. (information courtesy of Errol W. Martyn)

Burial details:

Sgt. Kenneth Victor Thrift. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Grave: 12.F.9. Son of Mr. and Mrs. G. E. Thrift, of Kinver, Staffordshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Your Memory Is Hallowed In The Land You Loved".


P/O. William Curwin Gavine Cogman. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 5. No further details - are you able to assist?

P/O. Leonard Miller. Bath Cemetery (Haycombe). Plot 39. Sec. H. Row F. Grave 245. Son of Mathew and Leonora Miller of Auckland, New Zealand.

Researched for relatives of this crew. For further details our thanks to Errol W. Martyn and Bill Chorley for details. Also to the following sources:

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 27 November 2017, 22:38

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