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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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59 Squadron Crest
23.03.1943 59 Squadron Fortress IIA FK209 Fg Off. Weatherhead

Operation: Anti-submarine Patrol

Date: 23rd March 1943 (Tuesday)

Unit: 59 Squadron, Coastal Command

Type: B-17 Fortress IIA

Serial: FK209

Coded: J

Base: RAF Chivenor, North Devon

Location: Bay of Biscay

Pilot: Fg Off. Richard John Weatherhead J6992 RCAF Age 30. Missing - believed killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. William James Arnold R106166 RCAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Fg Off. William Christian Zapfe J7024 RCAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed (1)

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. George Cojocar R70533 RCAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed (2)

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Clarence Lummis Copping R77233 RCAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Frank Spino R75875 RCAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed (3)

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Richard Glover Montgomery R106426 RCAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed

Air Bmr: Sgt. Robert Albert Phillips 128609 RAFVR Age 31. Missing - believed killed


Took off on an anti U-boat patrol in the Bay of Biscay. On the return flight wireless message was received from the aircraft which stated that they were being attacked by enemy aircraft. This was the last communication heard from them.

Extensive search has been made of the area but no trace had been found of the aircraft or any of its crew.

The B-17 was claimed by Oblt. Hermann Horstmann of 13./KG 40 at 13:15 hours. His record shows that this claim was unconfirmed.

He had 10 claims of which 5 were unconfirmed. In his final encounter he claimed a Beaufighter whilst with I./ZG1. In this encounter his Ju88 was shot down which came down in the Bay of Biscay on the 12th December 1943.

Interesting in that Fg Off. Weatherhead, Fg Off. Zapfe, Sgt. Copping and Sgt. Spino were all interned in Portuguese Guinea on October 2nd 1942 when a 200 Squadron Hudson went down in bad weather. They all returned to United Kingdom on October 24th, 1942.

Above: FK209 - B-17 Fortress IIA

Above FK209 Crew. Rear left to right: Sgt. W.J. Arnold, Sgt. R.G. Montgomery, Sgt. F. Spino, Flt Sgt. G. Cojocar. Front left to right front: Sgt. C.L. Copping, Fg Off. R.J. Weatherhead, Fg Off. W.S. Zapfe. There is no image for Sgt Phillips. The broken wheel to the rear of the photograph is the main element in the 59 Sqn Crest (credit: Robert Stitt)

Burial Details:

Fg Off. Richard John Weatherhead. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 175. Born on the 1st November 1912 in New Westminster, British Columbia. Son of John Christopher and of Florence Edith (née Glover) Weatherhead of Mission City, British Columbia, Canada.

WO2. William James Arnold. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 179. Born on the 3rd October 1922 in Rainy River, Ontario. Son of Cunningham Harold and Ethel Winnifred (née Sheffield) Arnold, of Rainy River, Ontario, Canada.

Promoted to WO2 on the 22nd February 1943

Fg Off. Willard Christian Zapfe. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 175. Born on 15th November 1915 in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Son of William Peter and Mable Anne (née Grey) Zapfe of Saskatoons, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Flt Sgt. George Cojocar. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 175. Born on the 25th November 1921 in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan. Son of Dragos and Rosa (née Rosjutnick) Cojocar of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Commissioned and Promoted to Plt Off. (J16374) with effect 7th January 1943

WO2. Clarence Lummis Copping. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 179. Born on the 18th December 1917 in Valcourt, Quebec. Son of William Carter and Isabella Gordon (née Lummis) Copping of Waterloo, Province of Quebec, Canada

Promoted to WO2 with effect 1st November 1942

WO2. Frank Spino. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 180. Born on the 19th February 1917 in Hamilton, Ontario. Son of Mauro and Rose (née Sebastiano) Spino, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Promoted to WO2 with effect 1st November 1942

WO2. Richard Glover Montgomery. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 180. Born on the 8th March 1916 Montreal, Quebec. Oldest son of Andrew Emerson and Nina (née Glover) Montgomery, Outremont, Quebec, Canada.

Promoted to WO2 with effect 5th March 1943

Sgt. Robert Albert Phillips. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 128. Son of Robert and Sarah Ellen of Bolton, Lancashire; husband of Margaret Fisher of Bolton, Lancashire, England.

With many thanks to Robert Stitt for his wealth of research and assistance with this page of remembrance and others that we are currently working on. Research dedicated to Marian McKiernn, Herb Montgomery, Judith Copping and all the relatives of the crew. Thanks to Robert Stitt for the replacement photograph of the crew and clarification of their identification (Nov 2021). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Nov 2021).

(1) Zapfe Island in Saskatchewan is named after Fg Off. Zapfe

(2) Cojocar Lake in Saskatchewan is named after Flt Sgt. Cojocar

(3) Spino Lake in northern Ontario is named after Sgt. Spino

A new publication by Mr. Robert Stitt has now been published. "Boeing B-17 Fortress in RAF Coastal Command service". See our book reviews.

RS 03.11.2021 - Confirmation of crew photograph identities and update of narrative

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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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