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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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263 Squadron Crest
15.06.1943. No 263 Squadron Whirlwind I P7000 P/O. Cotton

Operation: Shipping Recce

Date: 15th June 1943

Unit: No. 263 Squadron (motto: Ex ungue leonem - 'One knows the lion by his claws')

Type: Whirlwind I

Serial: P7000

Code: HE-?

Base: RAF Warmwell, Dorset

Location: English Channel

Pilot: P/O. Maxwell Tylney Cotton DFC. Aus/408204 RAAF Age 22. Killed


Taking off at 05:43 hrs leading his section of 4 'Whirlibombers' for an armed reconnaissance in the Channel Islands area.

They were escorted by 8 Spitfires from 504 Squadron and later by 8 Spitfires from 616 Squadron.

A convoy of 4 minesweepers and an armed trawler was sighted 4 miles North East of Sark. The Spitfires from 616 Squadron engaged the convoy despite heavy and accurate flak.

23 year old F/O. Robert James Sim NZ/403995 RNZAF flying Spitfire BR319 YQ-C was hit and seen to be gliding with a dead propeller from about 300 ft. into the Channel, he was not seen to bale out and was classified as missing believed killed.

Each 'Whirlibomber' attacked separate minesweepers. P/O. Cotton dropped his bomb amidship of one, but he was then hit by the flak. His aircraft was seen diving a ball of fire and totally disintegrated as it hit the sea about 100 yards east of the minesweeper. Observing pilots from the other 3 Whirlwinds concludes he was for sure killed during this.

On the 28th April 1943 during a Roadstead operation, flying Whirlwind I P6981 he was hit but managed to return safely to base - an 18 inch hole was discovered in his starboard wing! Again on the 23rd May 1943 he managed to return base with his starboard tank holed by an unexploded 20 m shell. Thirty gallons of fuel flowed out before the tank sealed itself. The Whirlwind was found to have a fuselage like a pepper pot. After 4 attempts to land and with his rudder partially jammed he finally brought it in.

DFC Citaiion:

"P/O. Cotton has taken part in numerous and varied operational missions, some of which have been completed at night.
His sorties have included bombing attacks on enemy airfields, railway objectives and against shipping in convoy. On three occasions his aircraft has been severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire but he did not fail to fly back to this country to land safely.
P/O. Cotton has displayed complete disregard of intense enemy opposition snd has invariably pressed home his attacks with great determination".

Left to right: P/O. Maxwell Tylney Cotton, DFC 408204, Fl/Lt. Jim Ferguson 401771, Fl/Lt. Frank Austin, Fl/Lt. Dave Waterhouse, Fl/Sgt. Allan Edgar Pearce 416280 (KIA), Fl/Lt. Ross William Leeming 401975, Corporal McCauley, F/O. Matthew Henry Ivor De Cosier 405575, Fl/Lt. Thomas Wilkinson Anthony DFC 401481, Fl/Lt.Thomas Henry McGovern DFC 416269, Doug Hall. Kneeling, left to right: Sgt. Maurice Daniel Duggan 405578 (KIA), Fl/Lt. Richard Joseph Darcey 408172 (KIA), Fl/Lt. Reginald Horatio Nossiter 411432.

Burial details:

P/O. Maxwell Tylney Cotton. DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 190. Born on the 02nd May 1921 at Swansea, Tasmania, the son of Arthur Tylney Cotton and Louisa Kate Cotton, of Swansea, Tasmania, Australia. After returning from Canada he joined 53 Operational Training Unit for conversion training on the 12th May 1942. He then joined 87 Squadron on the 14th July 1942 before finally joining 263 Squadron on the 30th July 1942.

F/O. Robert James Sim. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 198. Born on the 28th June 1919, the son of Peter and Lilas Sim of Mairoa, Auckland and husband of Patricia Sim, of Whangarei Hospital, Whangarei, North Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 588 flying hours logged and having completed some 97 operational sorties with four different squadrons.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of these pilots with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, Australian Archives, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 19.05.2019

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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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