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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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174 Squadron Crest
07.01.1944 No. 174 Squadron Typhoon Ib JP600 XP-K Fl/Lt. Cobbett

Operation: Ramrod

Date: 07th January 1944 (Friday)

Unit: No. 174 Squadron

Type: Typhoon Ib

Serial: JP600

Code: XP-K

Base: RAF Westhampnett, Sussex

Location: Nr. Abbeville, France

Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Frederick Cobbett 115703 RAFVR Age ? Killed


Taking part in a ‘Ramrod during the afternoon of the 07th January 1944. A mid-air collision with another Typhoon from the same squadron at 16:30 hrs.

In a statement later made by W/O. Ronald Venning Smith (later Fl/Lt) AUS/413800 RAAF he describes the events that day:

"I was flying No. 2 to Fl/Lt. Cobbett and was briefed to dive bomb a Buzz bomb site near Abbeville. My No. 1 went into a very steep dive at this moment another squadron was diving at right angles to us at the same target which attracted my attention as it looked as they would pass very close to us in our dive. When I was in my dive I couldn’t see my No. 1 so I jettisoned both my bombs and pulled out to the side as I thought that when he pulled up out of his dive I wouldn’t be in his road.

I was climbing when the collision happened. This was about 8,000 ft. The plane seemed to hit my tail and then when I looked to port I could see the other Typhoon locked under my port wing. That is all I remember till I woke up about 2 hours later and the Luftwaffe were dragging me across the field. I was too dazed to see where the aircraft crashed."

"Whilst at Frankfurt Interrogation centre I met Fl/Sgt. Renshaw who was from 175 Squadron and had crash landed on the 06th (a day previous to me) in the same area. He said that the Germans took him to identify the body of Fl/Lt. Cobbett. The only thing that he could identify him by was the white lanyard which all 174 used to wear. He aid that the body was not broken about. They then put Fl/Lt. Cobbett into a truck and that is the last he saw of him."

Above LR: F/O. Murray Thomas, Fl/Sgt. John Brooks DFC. DFM, F/O. John Cobbett, F/O. Basil Proddow - See further details here . (courtesy Eugenie Brooks)

Above left: W/O. Ronald Venning Smith AUS/413800 RAAF. Group right: Fl/Lt. John Corbett 115703 RAFVR, Fl/Lt. Eric Little AUS/413128 RAAF and P/O. Jim Wetere NZ/404975 RNZAF with ’Tex’. (courtesy National Archives of Australia)

Notes: W/O. Ronald Venning Smith was flying Typhoon Ib JR373 - suffered concussion, a wound to the left thigh and broken ribs during his descent. Served out the remainder of the war as PoW No 270083 until the 23rd April 1945 when he was liberated by the Russians. Born on the 29th September 1921 and lived at Wyalong, New South Wales, Australia. Fl/Sgt. Gilbert L. Renshaw 1425203 RAFVR was shot down in Typhoon Ib JR190 and also taken PoW.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. John Frederick Cobbett. Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension. Plot 6. Row D. Grave 6. No family details - are you able to assist?

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Eugenie Brooks, Julian Proddow, National Archives of Australia, other sources as quoted below:

KTY - 29.07.2017

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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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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