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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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No. 257 Squadron Crest
15.09.1941 No. 257 (Burma) Squadron Hurricane IIB Z3322 FM-? Sgt. Peter Cowen

Operation: Bergen Airfield, Noord-Holland

Date: 15 September 1941 (Monday)

Unit: No. 257 (Burma) Squadron

Motto: "Thay myay gyee shin shwe hti" - "Death or glory"

Badge: A chinthe sejant. No 257 Squadron was the Burma gift squadron in World War Two; the chinthe is a Burmese effigy.

Type: Hawker Hurricane IIB

Serial: Z3322

Code: FM-?

Base: RAF Coltishall, Norfolk

Location: 7km west of Alkmaar, Noord-Holland.

Pilot: Sgt. Peter Cowen 1150082 RAFVR Age 19 - Killed

We appeal to relatives or friends of Peter Cowen with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via the Helpdesk


Took off from RAF Coltishall with three more Hawker Hurricane fighters under the command of 29 year old Sqn/Ldr. Francis Joseph Soper D.F.C. D.F.M. on a mission to attack the airfield at Bergen near Alkmaar, Noord-Holland. The German's however were alerted and quickly intercepted the Hurricanes. At approximately 07:25 hours Leutnant Helmut Rose in a Messerschmitt Bf109 of 6./JG53 attacked and shot down Peter Cowen's aircraft which crashed in a grove north of the seaway at Egmond aan de Hoef, about 7km west of Alkmaar. It would seem that Peter Cowen was unable to bale out and was killed. He was buried by the German forces with military honours at Bergen General Cemetery.

The other three Hurricanes all returned safely.

Scale: 1" = 1.5 miles

Bergen Airfield c1940

Wreckage of Hurricane Z3322 beside the grove, north of the seaway at Egmond aan de Hoef

German airmen collected some of the parts of the wrecked Hurricane as trophies, one of the roundels taking pride of place at their accommodation in Bergen.


Sgt. Peter Cowen was born 5 November 1921 at Leeds the son of Laurence F. Cowen (a manager for the London Insurance Co.) and Susie Cowen nee Wylie. Peter Cowen entered Nottingham High School in 1932 and after passing his School Certificate in June 1939 left to work for the Midland Bank. (Details courtesy Nottingham High School Archives).

He later volunteered for the RAF and after pilot training began operational flying with 257 squadron in March 1941. He was killed on his 66th operational mission.

He is commemorated on the Nottingham High School war memorial.

Lt. Helmut Rose flew with 6./JG53, 3./JG3 and 2./JG3. He had 11 known victories during his career and became a prisoner of war on 7 October 1942 at Stalingrad. (Magnus Report). He was awarded the Ehrenpokal (Honour Goblet) der Luftwaffe, the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class and the Fighter Operational Clasp

Hurricane Z3322 was his first known victory and his only victory whilst a member of 6./JG53.


Sgt. Peter Cowen was buried at Bergen General Cemetery - Plot 1. Row E. Grave 23

Photograph of headstone kindly provided by Michel Beckers, courtesy André Reijniers

Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Nottingham High School and all relatives and friends of Peter Cowen - December 2015

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 11.12.2015

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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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