In Memoriam Arthur Cockayne

Note

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.

Never_Say_Die

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

headstone-arthur-cockayne

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

Photo courtesy Jonathan Markley

Day Ranger to Grove

Day Ranger to Grove is the second painting commissioned by Peter Smith who has since 2006 went on a mission to honour all those who served with RAF 23 Squadron, a little known Mosquito Squadron.

 01058 Day Ranger to Grove, low res

Day Ranger to Grove

On 26th September 1944, F/O George Stewart, and his navigator F/O Paul Beaudet flew a Day Ranger with fellow 23 Squadron Pilot F/O D.L,’Bud’ Badley, and his navigator Sgt AA Wilson, to Grove Aerodrome in Denmark, in their FB.VI Mosquito fighter bombers. Arriving abruptly over their target, George spotted a Ju88 sitting by the perimeter track and at once strafed with his four 20mm cannons. He is flying YP-T (HR 201), and Bud, YP-Z (HR 216), seen in the background. Their sudden appearance and departure drew no return fire and, as they raced back to the coast, George couldn’t resist a departing shot at a Freya Radar tower, but got hit by a .303 round in his instrument panel as he flew overhead. Bud, however, received numerous hits on his pass, losing one engine, plus rudder, elevator control and R/T. In a superb display of airmanship, at zero feet, Bud regained control and flew back home to land safely at the emergency airstrip at Woodbridge. George, having plunged into low cloud and therefore lost sight of Bud, was unable to raise him on the R/T and flew on to Little Snoring. George and Paul were awarded DFCs, following their extended operational tour, and Bud an ‘Immediate’ DFC, by W/C ‘Sticky’ Murphy DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar, Croix de Guerre and Palm, Commanding Officer of 23 Squadron, RAF. 

Peter Smith first commissioned Never Say Die.

01048 Never Say Die, low res

Never Say Die

What must surely be one of WWII’s most extraordinary acts of bravery occurred on the night of 16th/17th January 1945 when F/L T A Smith and F/O A C Cockayne were on an ASH patrol over Stendal. Flying Mosquito FB.VI RS507 (YP-C), they inadvertently stumbled upon the German airfield of Fassberg on their return trip, fully lit up with aircraft taxiing. Taking full advantage of this situation, F/L Smith went straight in to attack, destroying one Bf.109 on the taxiway and another two as they attempted to take off. RS507 received ground fire hits to its starboard engine during the chase down the runway, Smith feathering the prop, but continuing to press home his attack. Knowing that there was no way of saving their aircraft, Cockayne was ordered to bale out, but sadly lost his life in the attempt. F/L Smith fought gallantly to bring his Mosquito down into snow with minimum damage, but the aircraft hit trees before striking the frozen ground and a furious fire broke out, Smith trapped in the wreckage. Against all the odds, he survived the crash, albeit with terrible burns, and saw out the war as a prisoner of the Germans. 

Both prints are A3 in size, and numbered, ?/250 in a limited run, they cost £35 and postage is free within UK and standard postal rates outside the UK.

Visit Ivan Berryman Website for more details.

Never Say Die

From Ivan Berryman’s website

This is the title of  a new painting completed earlier this month for Mr Pete Smith of      Northampton. It depicts an heroic action in Mosquito FB.VI RS507, flown by his father In January 1945. My caption for the painting gives just a glimpse of what happened that night:                           

01048 Never Say Die, low res

What must surely be one of WWII’s most extraordinary acts of bravery occurred on the night of 16th/17th January 1945 when F/L T A Smith and F/O A C Cockayne were on an ASH patrol over Stendal. Flying Mosquito FB.VI RS507 (YP-C), they inadvertently stumbled upon the German airfield of Fassberg on their return trip, fully lit up with aircraft taxiing. Taking full advantage of this situation, F/L Smith went straight in to attack, destroying one Bf.109 on the taxiway and another two as they attempted to take off. RS507 received ground fire hits to its starboard engine during the chase down the runway, Smith feathering the prop, but continuing to press home his attack. Knowing that there was no way of saving their aircraft, Cockayne was ordered to bale out, but sadly lost his life in the attempt. F/L Smith fought gallantly to bring his Mosquito down into snow with minimum damage, but the aircraft hit trees before      striking the frozen ground and a furious fire broke out, Smith trapped in the wreckage. Against all the odds, he survived the crash, albeit with terrible burns, and saw out the war as a prisoner of the Germans.                    

It will never cease to amaze me what incredible people these young men were. Mr      Smith very kindly provided me with a very comprehensive file of the squadron’s activities before and after this incident which offers an uncompromising insight into the daily – and nightly – rigours of a front line Mosquito squadron and its young crews in 1945.                    

I am indebted.

Aren’t we are all indebted to Peter?

01058 Day Ranger to Grove, low res

Imagine

Imagine by clicking here.

Total darkness, even lower, over hostile countries, in late 1944, in winter.

Imagine George Stewart and Paul Beaudet.

Paul Beaudet and George Stewart 1

Imagine Eugene Gagnon and R.C. Harris.

No. 23 Squadron Aircrew 1945 R. Harris

Imagine Theo Griffiths and Eric Maude.

10-11-1943 Naples Theo

Imagine Tommy Smith and Arthur Cockayne.

Never_Say_Die

Imagine what it was like.

Now imagine you are practising bailing out of a Mosquito like Sticky Murphy and Jock Read…

Jock Read and Sticky Murphy

Or having a Chrismas dinner with 23 Squadron…

Xmas Overseas 1943

Just imagine what you are missing if you have not read all the posts on this blog about 23 Squadron.

Want more?

I Got This in the Mail

I got this in the mail yesterday.

Never_Say_Die

I wondered who could have sent it. I did not order it from Ivan Berryman.

Then I found out who send it.

Peter did!

Peter Smith

Never Say Die

This is the title of a new painting completed earlier this month for Mr Pete Smith of Northampton. It depicts an heroic action in Mosquito FB.VI RS507, flown by his father In January 1945. My caption for the painting gives just a glimpse of what happened that night:

What must surely be one of WWII’s most extraordinary acts of bravery occurred on the night of 16th/17th January 1945 when F/L T A Smith and F/O A C Cockayne were on an ASH patrol over Stendal. Flying Mosquito FB.VI RS507 (YP-C), they inadvertently stumbled upon the German airfield of Fassberg on their return trip, fully lit up with aircraft taxiing. Taking full advantage of this situation, F/L Smith went straight in to attack, destroying one Bf.109 on the taxiway and another two as they attempted to take off. RS507 received ground fire hits to its starboard engine during the chase down the runway, Smith feathering the prop, but continuing to press home his attack. Knowing that there was no way of saving their aircraft, Cockayne was ordered to bale out, but sadly lost his life in the attempt. F/L Smith fought gallantly to bring his Mosquito down into snow with minimum damage, but the aircraft hit trees before striking the frozen ground and a furious fire broke out, Smith trapped in the wreckage. Against all the odds, he survived the crash, albeit with terrible burns, and saw out the war as a prisoner of the Germans.

It will never cease to amaze me what incredible people these young men were. Mr Smith very kindly provided me with a very comprehensive file of the squadron’s activities before and after this incident which offers an uncompromising insight into the daily – and nightly – rigours of a front line Mosquito squadron and its young crews in 1945.

I am indebted.

There is a footnote to the story of this painting. Having completed the original, which measured 36 x 24 inches, it was crated up in a sturdy plywood box for transit to the eager customer. A certain well-known courier company (who shall remain nameless, but let’s just say that their name begins and ends with a ‘T’) promptly lost it! After much ado at my end and head-scratching at theirs, it finally turned up not more than six miles from where it left me – and still my side of the Solent. It was eventually delivered to a very relieved customer, three days late. Fresh underwear please…

On the other hand, another well known courier (who also shall be nameless, but whose name begins with ‘F’ and ends in ‘X’ shipped an even bigger create with another painting from my door to Perth in Australia in under 72 hours. Cue the fanfare and confetti.

Source

Priority One

I have been digressing enough on my other blogs.

The one about RCAF No. 403 Squadron mostly

More than 100 articles.

I know I will be posting more.

But I’ve got to set my priorities.

So Priority One will be writing a chapter in Peter Smith’s manuscript about 23 Squadron.

I can’t let him down.

He gave so much to pay homage to these fine young men who gave so much.

Collection Tom Cushing via Peter Smith

Men like Sticky Murphy, George Stewart, Paul Beaudet, Arthur Cockayne, Tommy Smith, Phil Russell… and Gene Gagnon.

Collection Jacques Gagnon

Semper Aggressus

Tommy Smith’s Navigator

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.

Are You a Relative of These Airmen?

Someone is writing a book about his father who was a pilot with No. 23 Squadron, and I am lending him a helping hand sort of by creating this new blog.

He needs information on these airmen.

Would you be one of their relatives?


Flight Sergeant Douglas Darbon
(Courtesy Peter Smith)


Flying Officer Heath
(Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith)

Flight Lieutenant Frank Thomas
(Courtesy Tom Cushing via Peter Smith)

If you are, then write a comment and I will contact you and then I will contact him.