25/26.05.1943 No. 149 Squadron Stirling III EH879 OJ-G Fl/Sgt. George A. Cozens
Date: 25/26th May 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 149 Squadron
Type: Stirling III
Base: RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk
Location: At Base
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. George Arthur Cozens 148793 RAFVR Age 27. Safe
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Patrick Hodgkinson 577048 RAF Age 19. Safe
Nav: F/O. Ernest George Redman 125567 RAFVR Age 26. Safe
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Herbert Wiggins NZ/404562 RNZAF Age 30. Safe
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Roy Alexander Hodge NZ/413756 RNZAF Age 25. Safe
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Lewis William Curtis 149063 RAF Age 32. Safe
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William John Williams 637252 RAF Age 24. Safe
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 23:38 hrs from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. A total force of 323 Lancasters, 169 Halifaxes, 142 Wellingtons, 113 Stirlings with 12 Mosquitos were to bomb Dusseldorf - 759 aircraft in total.part.
The weather on leaving England was fine with showers, over the Dutch coast broken cloud, which increased as the target was approached. Düsseldorf was covered in 10/10 cloud at various heights.
Despite the huge bomber force the raid was classed as a failure with bombing scattered over a wide area. Between 50 - 100 buildings were destroyed with some 50 people killed on the ground. It is understood that the Germans lit various fires and also placed decoy markers to fool the allies.
The allies lost some 29 aircraft - one from 149 Squadron. Stirling III BK710 OJ-A Flown by Sgt. Jack Henry Uden 1334077 RAFVR - Missing with 5 other members of his crew, the body of a crew member was later recovered.
The Luftwaffe night fighters were hampered by the cloud cover plus the half moon rose at about 03.00 hrs. when the crews were on their way home. However 21 were confirmed to have been shot down, mainly on the very slow return trip, when the allies suffered 40-60 mph head winds. 2 other aircraft were lost when 77 Squadron JB837 was shot down by Maj. Walter Ehle of stab II./NJG1 over Eisdorf at 01:51 hrs. The full bomb load exploded bringing down two Stirlings.
Stirling EH879 was hit it is understood, by friendly fire from above - possibly due to incident described earlier.
Crew report: 8-10/10ths cloud through stratus. Tops of 5/6000ft. Two lots of Yellow Ti's in same spot. Red TI went down at 01:31, second at 01:35. Green TI's seen in Bombsight. Nothing much but some scattered incendiaries burning. Starboard engine hit by HFF (Friendly Fire) also front turret, undercarriage and several other places.
Fl/Sgt. Cozens (DFM) and F/O. Redman (DFC) gained ‘immediate’ awards during this Operation to Dusseldorf in May 1943, Gazetted 15th June 1943.
The Citation reads:
“One night, in May 1943. Flying Officer Redman and Flight Sergeant Cozens were Navigator and Pilot respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack Düsseldorf. Whilst over the target area, the bomber was hit by falling incendiary bombs. The Navigator’s cabin was wrecked, the front turret was rendered unserviceable, while an oil tank was pierced and much equipment was damaged. The aircraft went out of control and lost considerable height before Flight Sergeant Cozens succeeded in regaining control. Some moveable equipment was jettisoned and a little height was gained as course was set for home. Displaying great skill, Flight Sergeant Cozens flew the damaged aircraft to this country and accomplished a safe landing in the face of many difficulties.
Throughout the return flight, Flying Officer Redman gave his Pilot valuable assistance, plotting an accurate course in spite of extremely adverse circumstances. These members of aircraft crew displayed skill and courage of a high order.”
The other operations undertaken by this crew:
1st Op. 23rd Mar ‘43 - Aircraft OJ-R, EF360. Took off at 19:02, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 00:26 Target - St Nazaire.
Crew report: Little cloud but very hazy. Green and Red T.Is (Target Indicators) coincided with ETA (estimated time of arrival). Bombs dropped and a few small fires seen. Attack not so good as last one. (This is strange as this was the first trip for this crew with 149. It may have been made by a crew member from another crew).
2nd Op. 4th Apr ‘43 –Aircraft OJ-H, BF477. Took off at 19:02, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 02:25 - Target - Keil.
Crew report: Cloud tops 3/4000. One area glowing Red. Green T.I. went down beside (it) and after bombing, second stick of Green fell on same spot. Green T.I.s seen in bombsight. Glow visible 70 miles away.
3rd Op. 6th Apr ‘43 –Aircraft OJ-H, BF477. Took off at 21:10, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 03:43 Target – West Coast France (Mining).
Crew report: Mines laid as ordered. Parachutes seen to open.
For gardening operations, please see here.
4th Op. 8th Apr ‘43 –Aircraft OJ-G, HK701. Took off at 21:29, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 03:19 Target – West Coast France (Mining)
Crew Report: Believed in mouth of Gironde between Meschera and Leverden. Visibility good apart from a little haze. Coast road at St. Seuren seen and Leverden passed after dropping mines. Parachutes seen to open and mines to fall in water.
5th Op. 10th Apr ‘43 –Aircraft OJ-H, BF477. Took off at 00:13, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 06:19 - Target – Frankfurt.
Crew report: 10/10ths Cloud tops 4000ft. DR (Dead Reckoning) run from warning markers. No Tis or flares seen over target until after bombing. Target was not in sight but estimated to have fallen about 1⁄2 mile east of where the marker flares were later seen to fall. Nickels (propaganda Leaflets) dropped in target area.
6th Op. 14th Apr ‘43 –Aircraft OJ-H, BF477. Took off at 21:49, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 04:23 - Target – Stuttgart.
Crew report: Timed run to target form Yellow flares. River seen. Green markers seen in bomb sight. Many fires seen – very concentrated. Large buildings seen ablaze. Flak ( Anti-aircraft fire) at Stuttgart 01.05 hrs. 1000ft. Large hole in port main plane. One in starboard main plane 3” wide and 8” long. Very successful raid. Built up area seen after bombs gone and PFF (Pathfinder Force) may have been short of AP (Aiming Point).
7th Op. 16th Apr ‘43 –Aircraft OJ-H, BF477. Took off at 21:55, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 23:27 - Target – Mannheim.
Crew report: 1x200, 2x100, 270x4, 24x30 (bombs) dropped (safe) on Rushforth range at 23:05 hrs. Oil pressure stbd inner (engine) dropping to 70lbs at 2200 revs and flucuating between 55 and 60 at 200 revs. (Operation abandoned)
8th Op. 20th Apr ‘43 –Aircraft OJ-H, BF477. Took off at 22:18, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 05:52 - Target – Rostock (Heinkel Aircraft Factory).
Crew report: Visibility clear, fairly good. Factory seen through thick smoke haze. Timed run. Buildings believed on S side of target in bomb site. Incendiaries burning both sides of river, but more on the West. Buildings to North of target well alight. Wireless Operator’s clock shot (away) Rudder trimming cable shot away. Rudder main control partially severed. Hole in roof, near fin, all from Flack.
9th Op. 6th May ‘43 –Aircraft OJ-H, EF335. Took off at 22:47, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 02:20 - Target – Dortmund.
Crew report: Aircraft returned early as unable to maintain height. Bombed estimated position of A/D (Air Defenses) Texel.
10th Op. 23rd May ‘43 –Aircraft OJ-B, BF530. Took off at 22:25, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 03:12 - Target – Dortmund.
Crew report: Hazy Red T.I. at time of bombing. Bombs South and slightly East of Red and Green T.I.s. Two packages ‘Nickel’ dropped. Bomb sight U/S (Unserviceable) Green Tis dispersed and fires very scattered. Incendiaries burning on ground.
11th Op. - As described within another page on this website: Stirling III BF530 OJ-B 04th July 1943. Sadly and with great regret and probably leaving a huge guilt complex with Fl/Sgt. Wiggins - resulting in that he never spoke much about this period of his life with his family. He had transferred to 149 Squadron from 75 because of his mathematical aptitude - an essential skill using One equipment. Following the war he continued to work within the defence technology industry that, even after all these years is not open to the public. Following retirement from the NZAF he worked for the New Zealand Post Office's Radio Depot. A great article featuring Herbert Wiggins can be read here.
12th Op. 29th May ‘43 –Aircraft OJ-B, BF530. Took off at 23:00, landed at RAF Lakenheath at 23:23. - Target – Wupertal.
This was Flight Sergeant Wiggins’s last trip with this crew.
Crew report: Aircraft returned early after Port Outer engine failed after take off. Bomb load jettisoned on Lakenheath Range.
The crew’s last six Operations were done without Fl/Sgt Wiggins, as he was taken ill with the measles. In that time (indeed, even now) and as a mature man, measles was not a nice condition and obviously that took him off flying for some time.
The crew did their further trips with a stand-in Air Bomber (Flying Officer John Needham) to Dusseldorf (twice), Le Creusot, Krefeld, Mulheim and Cologne - their last trip.
The aircraft the rest of the crew flew their last Operation in was a Short Stirling III built by Short and Harland in Belfast under contract number 774677/38. 65 Stirlings were lost in the month of July 1943 alone.
B-Beer had arrived new to 149 Squadron on the 5th May 1943, serial number BF530 and coded OJ-B. It took off from RAF Lakenheath bound for Cologne at 23:27 on the 3rd of July 1943 and failed to return. It had survived just less than two months.
None - all crew arrived safely until the operation as described.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the son of Sgt. Wiggins, Mr. Paul Wiggins and also to Alan Fraser who researched this crews operations from the start to when 6 of them lost their lives on the 04th July 1943. Alan runs the great Stirling Pilot website.
Herbert and Marie Wiggins are buried in the Soldiers Section of Makara cemetery in Wellington, New Zealand. They had lived in Wadestown, Wellington.