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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Jackson Cooke 103 Sqn]

F/S Jackson C Cooke CGM RCAF and crew – 103 Squadron – RAF Elsham Wolds – 1944

Failed to Return – 29th November 1944 – Avro Lancaster III – PB465 – Op Dortmund.

Also

Crashed on Return - 31st October / 1st November 1944 – Avro Lancaster I – LL964 – Op Cologne

103 Squadron - Cooke and crew

Jackson  Chartis Cooke was born on the 24th March 1924 at Grey County, Ontario,  Canada and after leaving school worked in the construction industry. He  enlisted in the RCAF on the 6th July 1942 at Hamilton, Ontario and was  subsequently selected for pilot training. He completed this successfully on the 17th September 1943 and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

On the 8th  October 1943 he sailed from New York  for the United Kingdom. A further  lengthy period of training followed and on the 23rd April 1944 he was  posted to 28 Operational Training Unit at Wymeswold, Leicestershire  where he was promoted to Flight Sergeant on the 17th June 1944. On the  17th July 1944 F/S Cooke and his crew were posted to one of the Heavy  Conversion Units that made up 11 Base to complete their training.

On the 9th September 1944 the complete crew were posted to 103 Squadron at Elsham Wolds.

The crew at this time consisted of :-

F/S J C Cooke RCAF - Pilot. (Back row second from right in above crew photo)

Sgt E W McGrath  RAFVR - Flight Engineer.

F/S J A Goff RCAF - Navigator.

103 Squadron Mann

F/S E A Mann RCAF - Air Bomber.( See above photo)

F/S F R Hill RCAF - Wireless Operator.

F/S J H L McCoubrey RCAF - Air Gunner.

F/S M O Orr RCAF - Air Gunner.

Sgt McGrath came from Dublin in the Irish Republic.

F/S Cooke  was the only NCO pilot with the Squadron at this point and this was to  be the case throughout his time at Elsham Wolds. It is thought that this was because his personnel file had gone astray between Canada and the  UK. He started operations with his crew on the night of the 23/24th  September 1944 when they took part in a raid on Neuss in Germany.

On the 31st  October 1944 F/S Cooke and his crew took off in Lancaster LL964 at 17.49 hours as part of a  raid to Cologne. This was their 9th operation and  was to be a very eventful one. During the run up to the target the  Lancaster came under heavy, accurate and sustained anti-aircraft fire.  At the moment the bombs were dropped their Lancaster was hit by flak.  The fuel tanks in both wings were hit and fuel was leaking out at an  alarming rate but fortunately there was no fire. F/S Cooke knew that  they would not have enough fuel to make it back across the North Sea to  England so he flew the Lancaster back towards Allied held territory in  Belgium. At this point the Flight Engineer, Sgt McGrath, informed his  pilot that they were almost out of fuel already and could not continue  much further. Approaching Namur in Belgium F/S Cooke gave the order to  the crew to bale out whilst he was still in control of the Lancaster.

Cooke got  out of the seat and prepared to bale out himself thinking all his crew  had gone but was horrified to see that the mid upper gunner, F/S  McCoubrey, was still in the aircraft having pulled the rip cord on his  parachute accidentally whilst still inside the Lancaster. F/S Cooke  immediately took over the controls of the Lancaster again and ordered  F/S McCoubrey to take the spare parachute and bale out but by this time  the aircraft was too low to attempt this safely.

F/S Cooke  was forced to attempt a crash landing and selected a suitable field and  lowered the flaps on the Lancaster. During his final approach the 2  outer engines of the aircraft spluttered to a halt but he was able to  make an excellent wheels up landing with remarkably little damage to the aircraft. Neither airman was injured  and fortunately they had reached  safety having come down at St-Gerard, Belgium behind the Allied front  line .

The other  members of the crew were all safe with the exception of F/S Mann who  landed  behind German lines but successfully evaded. He sustained a leg  injury during his landing by parachute and never flew with his old crew  again.

On his  return to England F/S Cooke’s bravery and skill was recognised by the  recommendation that he be awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (  Flying ). This award is very rare and, since its institution in November 1942, only 110 have been awarded. This award is restricted solely to  non-commissioned officers and is second in status to the Victoria Cross  for operational flying against the enemy for NCOs.

F/S Cooke  and his crew, minus Air Bomber F/S Mann who was injured, resumed  operations on the night of the 18/19th November 1944 taking part in a  raid on Wanne-Eikel and they completed 2 more operations on the nights  of the 21/22nd November and 27/28th November to Aschaffenburg and  Freiburg respectively. 

On the 29th  November F/S Cooke and his crew flew on a daylight raid to Dortmund in  Lancaster PD465. Whilst approaching the target in heavy congestion at  the Cologne turning point they were involved in a collision with another Lancaster, PD313, of 550 Squadron flown by F/O Simmons and crew. The  starboard rudder of F/S Cooke’s aircraft sustained serious damage and he gave the order to the crew to bale out.

F/O G T  Mortimore, who was the replacement Air Bomber, managed to attach his  parachute with difficulty and opened the nose escape hatch and fell out. His arm was broken during the escape but pulled the rip cord with his  left hand and the parachute opened and he came down in the top branches  of some tall trees. Some German soldiers nearby climbed up to release  him and he was taken to a hospital in Cologne where his broken arm was  treated. F/O Mortimore also sustained shrapnel wounds to his face and  leg and was later to find out the Lancaster blew up immediately after he had baled out. He was spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of the  Germans.

The other  Lancaster involved in the collision managed to return to England on its 2 port engines alone. After a difficult flight the pilot, F/O Summons,  made an emergency landing at Manston.

Sadly for  F/S Cooke and the other crew members there was to be no escape and they  rest together at the Reichswald War Cemetery. F/S Cooke never received  his Conspicuous Gallantry Medal which was confirmed on the 2nd January  1945.

F/S Jackson Chartis Cooke CGM RCAF ( pictured  below ) - Pilot – 103 Sqn – Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt Edward Walter McGrath RAFVR - Flight Engineer - 103 Sqn – Son of Thomas J. and Bridget McGrath, of Killester, Dublin, Irish Republic - Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

F/S J ames Alfred Goff RCAF ( pictured  below ) - Navigator - 103 Sqn – Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

F/O G T Mortimer RAFVR – Air Bomber – 103 Sqn - POW

W/O Francis Ignacious Roy Bruce Hill RCAF ( pictured below ) - Wireless Operator - 103 Sqn – Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

F/S John Herbert Charles McCoubrey RCAF ( pictured  below ) - Air Gunner – 23 - 103 Sqn –Son of Maj. Jack McCoubrey, and of Florence May McCoubrey, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

F/S Melvin Osborne Orr RCAF ( pictured  below ) - Air Gunner – 19 - 103 Sqn – Son of Charles Edward and Viola M. Orr, of Willow Cove, Ontario, Canada - Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

103 Squadron Cooke

F/S Jackson Chartis Cooke CGM RCAF

103 Squadron Goff Cooke

F/S J ames Alfred Goff RCAF

103 Squadron Hill Cooke

W/O Francis Ignacious Roy Bruce Hill RCAF

103 Squadron McCoubrey Cooke

F/S John Herbert Charles McCoubrey RCAF

103 Squadron Orr Cooke

103 Squadron Orr

F/S Melvin Osborne Orr RCAF

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Jackson Cooke and crew were posted to 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds from Heavy Conversion Unit in early September 1944. He was never commissioned because his personnel records went missing and could not be traced until after he was killed. They were lost on their 13th operation. See below :-

23-Sep-44 – Neuss - Lancaster – JB655 – Sgt JC Cooke RCAF

12-Oct-44 - Fort Frederik Hendrik - Lancaster – NF913 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

14-Oct-44 – Duisburg - Lancaster – PD272 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

14-Oct-44 - Duisburg - Lancaster -  PD272 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

19-Oct-44 - Stuttgart - Lancaster - LL964 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

23-Oct-44 - Essen - Lancaster - JA857 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

28-Oct-44 - Cologne - Lancaster - LL964 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

30-Oct-44 - Cologne - Lancaster - LL964 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

31-Oct-44 - Cologne - Lancaster - LL964 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF - Crash landed on return. Flak victim. Fuel tanks and rudder damaged over the target.  Crash landed in Allied held Belgium.

18-Nov-44 - Wanne Eikel - Lancaster - PB465 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

21-Nov-44 - Aschenaffenburg - Lancaster - PB465 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

27-Nov-44 - Freiburg - Lancaster - ED888 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

29-Nov-44 - Dortmund - Lancaster - PB465 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF – FTR - Collided over target with 550sq Lancaster.

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29-Nov-44 - Dortmund

 

103 Squadron detailed 22 aircraft for this attack on Dortmund. All aircraft took off in good weather but some cloud was encountered and on arrival in the target area it was found covered in 9/10ths cloud. No markers were seen and crews instructed by the Master Bomber to bomb visually. As a result the attack was very scattered. All bombing took place from 20000 ft. Defences were in the form of heavy flak in both predicted and barrage form and several machines were hit. F/S Cooke is missing from this operation but all other aircraft returned safely to base.

 

For this attack on what remained of the Nazi industrial city of Dortmund Bomber Command detailed a total of 294 Lancasters and 17 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups. 6 Lancasters lost. Bad weather caused the marking and resultant bombing to be scattered but fresh damage was caused in Dortmund.

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Lancaster – LL964

This machine was lost on its 26th operation. Most of these were flown with the Birch crew. See below :-

25-Aug-44 - Russelheim - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

26-Aug-44 - Kiel - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

28-Aug-44 - Chappelle Notre Dame - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

29-Aug-44 – Stettin - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

31-Aug-44 - Agenville - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

03-Sep-44 - Eindhoven - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O LJC Remy

05-Sep-44 - Le Havre - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

06-Sep-44 - Le Havre - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF - Aborted by Master Bomber due to cloud cover over target.

08-Sep-44 - Le Havre - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF - Aborted by Master Bomber due to cloud cover over target.

10-Sep-44 - Le Havre - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

12-Sep-44 - Frankfurt - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

15-Sep-44 - Oslo Kattegat and River Elbe - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

17-Sep-44 - Leeuwarden - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

20-Sep-44 - Sangatte - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

23-Sep-44 - Neuss - Lancaster - LL964 - P/O SO Scott - Unable to see markers so did not bomb.

24-Sep-44 - Calais - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O DA March RCAF

27-Sep-44 - Calais - Lancaster - LL964 - P/O T MacLetchie

05-Oct-44 – Saarbrucken - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

07-Oct-44 – Emmerich - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O SO Scott

11-Oct-44 - Fort Frederik Hendrik - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O L Dale

14-Oct-44 - Duisburg - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF – ER - Engine U/S.

14-Oct-44 - Duisburg - Lancaster - LL964 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

19-Oct-44 - Stuttgart - Lancaster - LL964 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

28-Oct-44 - Cologne - Lancaster - LL964 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

30-Oct-44 - Cologne - Lancaster - LL964 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF

31-Oct-44 - Cologne - Lancaster - LL964 - F/S JC Cooke RCAF - Crash landed on return. Flak victim. Fuel tanks and rudder damaged over the target. Crash landed in Allied held Belgium.

..........

Lancaster – PB465

This machine gave good service and was lost on its 40th operation. Its first operation was on the 26th August 1944. See below

26-Aug-44 – Kiel - Lancaster – PB465 - P/O AG Frish

....................

Jackson Cooke

Cooke, Flt. Sgt..Jackson C.

Jackson was a very bright active young man. He was a good student, athlete and horseman.  He taught Sunday School and planned on going to Teachers College when peace returned. His only sibling was a brother who served in the Canadian Army - Capt. James L.Cooke.

Like all these fine young men he was greatly missed by his family and is still fondly remembered today.

Item written by David Fell. Photos from a Belgian source. Also the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Thanks to Jim Cooke for the last photo and personal info.

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