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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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256 Squadron Crest
02/03.07.1944 No, 256 Squadron Mosquito NF.XIII HK399 JT-D W/O. de Renzy

Operation: Intruder Patrol

Date: 02/03rd July 1944 (Sunday/Mondat)

Unit: No. 256 Squadron. 337 Wing.

Type: Mosquito NF.XIII

Serial: HK399

Code: JT-D

Base: Es Sénia, Algeria

Location: Bourg-Saint-Christophe, France

Pilot: W/O. Thomas David de Renzy NZ/415751 RNZAF Age ? PoW

Nav: W/O. Rex Frederick Cottrell NZ/416214 RNZAF Age 21. Killed


Taking off at around 19:45 hrs, instructed to fly to Lyon area and patrol over a specified Woodland to intercept Ju88's from their operations. No intelligence gathering hadvfound out that the Germans had very recently installed a flak battery inn the area. Flying at less than 500 ft they proved to be an easy target and they were very quickly hit. With engines and cockpit on fire W/O. Cottrell baled out. W/O. de Renzy was busy with controlling the aircraft and hadn't noticed his navigator leaving. By the time he did he was too low to do the same and had to try and make a landing.

It was dark but he could see light and dark patches of ground below, assuming the light patches were open areas he headed for the largest one he could see, landing just short of some trees. Although not in good shape he knew that he must move away from the wrecked Mosquito as cannon shells had started to explode.

He found a French farmhouse where he was provided with first aid and his wounds bandaged. Fed and filled with wine he slept soundly.

Right: Memorial to the crew at Bourg-Saint-Christophe (courtesy Oleg Marin)

When he woke up he fell down the stairs, the French family informed him that he basin urgent need of hospital treatment and should surrender to the Germans. This he did, spending a month in the hospital at Lyon receiving only very basic treatment prior to going to Dijon. Although lacking in equipment he received excellent care from the German doctors.

He heard that his navigator had been killed after baling out. We have no details on how he died but can only assume that he baled out too low for his parachute to deploy fully.

Burial details:

Initially buried at Lyon-la Guillotière Cemetery, later in 1953 reinterred at location shown.

W/O. Rex Frederick Cottrell. Lyon French National Cemetery (La Doua). Row E. Grave 2. Born on the 28th December 1922 at Te Puke, the son of Albert George and Ella Mary Cottrell (nee Astley), of Rotorua, Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to service worked at the Public Trust Office as a clerk. Total of 336 flying hours logged. This was his 15th operational sortie with 256 squadron, he also flew others with 488 Squadron.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Jenifer Lemaire for crew images, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, with thanks to Oleg Marin for memorial photo, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 26.08.2019

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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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