29/30.03.1943 No. 214 Squadron Stirling I EF362 BU-N F/O. William Cooper
Date: 29/30th March 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 214 Squadron (3 Group)
Type: Stirling I
Base: RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk
Location: Hadleigh, Suffolk.
Pilot: F/O. William Cooper 115186 RAF Age 29 Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. R.D.T. Kearns 1612432 RAFVR Safe
Nav: Sgt. C.R. Logan NZ/2415271 RNZAF - Injured
Air/Bmr: Sgt. F.E. Smith 997120 RAFVR Safe
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. A.T. Boosma 1331148 RAFVR - Injured
Air/Gnr: Sgt. E.R.H. Dyde 1433724 RAFVR Safe
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Thomas Lovegrove NZ/412889 RNZAF Safe (1)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Chedburgh. It is believed that they had to return from the operation with severe icing problems, during this return they collided with Stirling BK663 also from 214 squadron, which was in a circuit at 2,000 ft. BK663 lost the rear turret and part of the tailplane but managed to crash land in a field close to the airfield.
The rear gunner from BK663, 25 Year old, Sgt. Harry Leister Burt NZ/411789 RNZAF was killed. (Found later, still inside the turret - shown left)
Whilst the rest of the crew were able to bale out of EF362, Flying Officer Cooper remained at the controls in order for his crew to bale out safely. He flew the aircraft away from built up areas and was killed in the crash.
Stirling BK663 ZO-K later being repaired and sent to 196 Squadron, lost on the 28th September 1943 after an operation to Hannover. All crew survived.
The ceremony at the Close named after him.
In an official street naming ceremony, a new road in Lincolnshire, Cooper Close, has been named by Kestevan District council in honour of Flying Officer Cooper. This was attended by representatives from 214 Squadron, the Royal British legion, North Kesteven District council, Branston Parish council, his nephew Bill Shaw and wife Kay and members of the local community.
(1) Sgt. Frederick Thomas Lovegrove was understood to be the rear gunner on Wellington HE898 LF-P
who went missing on the 27/28th January 1944 during an operation out of Foggia Main, Italy. The crew of the 37 Squadron Wellington X FL/Sgt. Noel George Brodrick, Fl/Lt. Basil Graham Walsh, Sgt. John Frederick Street, Sgt. John Henry Adams, F/O. Leslie Wallace Creasey and Fl/Sgt. Lovegrove are all remembered on the Malta Memorial.
F/O. William Cooper. Shirley (St.James Churchyard), Solihull. Row 22, Grave 18D. Further information: Son of Thomas Bailey and Kate Cooper, husband of Esther Cooper of Branston, Lincolnshire. Flying Officer Cooper (also a flying Instructor) was known as Bill, was on his first sortie of his second tour of operations.
From Stirling BK663:
Sgt Harry Leister Burt. Haverhill Cemetery. Sec. U. Grave 196. Born on the 15th August 1917, the son of Harry and Bertha Burt. From New Zealand.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With thanks to Jacqui, Julie and Keld for grave photographs.
(note: It is a shame that other councils don't adopt a similar street naming practice)