In Memoriam Arthur Cockayne


I wrote a post in April 2010 about Tommy Smith’s navigator. I don’t have a picture of Arthur Cockayne just a painting commissioned by Peter Smith, Tommy Smith’s son.


Arthur Cockayne did not survive the war. There is a follow-up to what I wrote back in 2010.


Peter received this e-mail from someone in December 2008. It all about his father’s navigator. If you are related to Arthur Cockayne, write me a comment and I will get in touch.

Here is the e-mail he got about Cockie…

Arthur Clarence COCKAYNE

Flying Officer 157435

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died on sortie to Germany on Tuesday 16 January 1945

Arthur was the eldest son of William Charles and Alice Barker Cockayne of 73, Darlaston Road, Walsall.

He was educated at Queen Mary’s Grammar School, where he was a member of the O.T.C., and later took a position as a student teacher at Hillary Street School.

Following this he attended Dudley Training College and was then appointed by the London County Council at their Highgate School.

When the war started and the children were evacuated from London, Arthur moved initially to Bedford High School and then to Northampton.

Volunteering for service in July 1941, he trained as a radio operator/observer and commenced his first tour of 250 flying hours in the Middle East, receiving a commission in 1943.

In March 1943 he was married at St. Gabriel’s Church, Sunderland to Vera Wardle, daughter of Mr and Mrs Wardle of 12, Montrose Gardens, Sunderland and a Domestic Science teacher at Diamond Hall School, Sunderland. Following the wedding the couple honeymooned in the Lake District. A son was born to the marriage in July 1945.

Returning to England, Arthur transferred to 23 Squadron who were based at Little Snoring near Norwich. From July 1944 onwards this squadron flew Mosquitos on night intruder operations. He flew in a Mosquito Mk VI, serial number RS507, coded YP-C with Flight Lieutenant T. Anderson-Smith as his pilot.

Serving as the navigator, Arthur had to do just one more flight to complete his second tour of duty when he was shot down over Germany.

Arthur took off from his base at 5.39pm on Tuesday 16 January 1945 for an intruder sortie over Stendal in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. His aircraft crashed at 9.30pm this night at Beckedorf, 3 miles south west of Hermannsburg. Frederick was killed in the crash and initially buried in the local cemetery. Flight Lieutenant Anderson-Smith survived the crash, albeit badly burned, and was taken prisoner.

Arthur is buried in Becklingen War Cemetery in Grave 13.F.9. He was 35 years of age.


This is what I received from someone Saturday night.

Hi Pierre

Please find attached the photo of the grave of AC Cockayne.

My uncle, Fl.Lt. Alexander John Fowler 422654 was killed on February 22nd 1945 during operation Clarion. His Mosquito PZ395 from 487 Squadron was piloted by Wing Commander Baker, the Squadron Commander. They were shot down and killed by railway flak, and in close proximity another Mosquito from their squadron was also brought down, crewed by PCW Sage (pilot) and J Cockburn (navigator). Pilot and navigator were buried in a single coffin, and the two coffins (both crews that is) were buried in the village cemetery of Bevern, just south of where they died. Later, they were reburied at Becklingen, where they are buried together. Immediately to the left of these 4 graves is where I spotted AC Cockayne’s final resting place.
My Uncle Alec trained in Canada in 1942, was in 214 Squadron using Short Stirling heavy bombers, then in 161 supplying the French Resistance, then training crews on using H2S Radar, and finally in from December 1944 in Mosquitoes.

Jonathan Markley


To live in hearts
we leave behind
is not to die.

Photo courtesy Jonathan Markley

9 thoughts on “In Memoriam Arthur Cockayne

    1. Reading once again what I had written back then makes me admire even more what Arthur Cockayne did. A school teacher about to finish his second tour. Also he left a wife and a son, born in July 1945, after he died in January 1945.

      What about an unsung hero!

  1. I am glad to know about Arthur Cockayne. He may well have met my uncle Johnny Custance Baker, an observer and navigator on Mosquitos, who died in Canada in May 1945. Little Snoring I also know, having had relatives living there in the 1960s. We will remember them.

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