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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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49 Squadron Crest
22/23.11.1943 No. 49 Squadron Lancaster III JB368 EA-G F/O. Cyril M. Cottingham

Operation: Berlin

Date: 22/23rd November 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: 49 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB368

Code: EA-G

Base: RAF Fiskerton

Location: None recorded

Pilot: F/O. Cyril Morgan Cottingham J/21625 RCAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Pilot 2: Fl/Lt. George Cooley Bailey J/20211 RCAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Alexander James Mathieson 1566697 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Nav: F/O. Russell Bernard Richard J/14785 RCAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Maurice Winter Wright 132198 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Geoffrey Tabenor 1274037 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Colin Edward Byers R/133135 RCAF Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Frederick Alfred John Falck 931694 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed


The family of the pilot would very much welcome any information as to where the aircraft came down - please contact us in the first instance.


REASON FOR LOSS:

Very few details available on this loss. Taking off from RAF Fiskerton in Lincolnshire at 16:51 hrs to bomb Berlin - the largest single force (764 aircraft) of heavy bombers yet of the war to go to the capital.

The operation was a bold one as no diversionary raid were planned. The route taken was direct from Texel Island to the target - taking the same route home. They were detected late at 17:40 hrs after crossing the Dutch coast but no night fighters took off in the 10/10ths cloud conditions with very heavy icing conditions.

Interesting in that there are no definite claims for any of the 26 aircraft lost on this operation from night fighters although they were in action over the target area and during the homeward bound journey. The fierce anti-aircraft batteries over the German capital claimed some 17 aircraft shot down.

The raid proved to be the ‘most effective’ bombing attack on Berlin of the whole war. Concentrated bombing destroyed large areas of the centre and west of the city. Amongst the casualties were the 500 occupants of one large public air raid shelter that received a direct hit. Relatively dry weather helped create firestorms, next day the fires were producing smoking columns that rose to 19,000 feet.

After the war a unit named ‘Missing Research and Enquiry Unit’ was established to assist in tracing the graves of missing airman. However, despite great success the unit was disbanded in the early 1950’s. It is ‘possible’ that they crashed in the area occupied by the Russians post war but access to the MREU was severely restricted. Many graves were however moved to the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, but sadly as “unknown“.

On the 16th April 2004 a new Terminal at Comox Airport in British Columbia, Canada was named after the pilot - Cottingham Terminal.

Burial details:

F/O. Cyril Morgan Cottingham. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 173. Son of William Thomas Cottingham and Mary Ann Cottingham, of Comox, British Columbia, Canada. Originally from Goginan Aberystwyth, Wales.

Fl/Lt. George Cooley Bailey. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 172. Son of Vernon N. Bailey and of Sarah Cooley Bailey, of New Canaan, Connecticut, USA.

Sgt. Alexander James Mathieson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 158. Son of Alexander W. D. and Mary Mathieson, of Aberdeen, Scotland.

F/O. Russell Bernard Richard. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 174. Son of Harry B. and Jean G. Richard, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

F/O. Maurice Winter Wright. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 130. No further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Geoffrey Tabenor. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 166. Son of Frank and Dorothy Tabenor, of Acocks Green, Birmingham, England.

Fl/Sgt. Colin Edward Byers. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 181. No further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. George Frederick Alfred John Falck. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 149. No further details - are you able to assist?

Researched for Wayne Cottingham - relative of the pilot who contacted us in July 2016. Sources as quoted below. With thanks to Michel Beckers for pilot photographs.

KTY 03.07.2016

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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