Date: 22/23rd November 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: 49 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
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.
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.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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