3/12/44 FSGT Zinzan V.J and crew arrived on posting from 1668CU

It would be very churlish of me I think to ignore the flight career of the Zinzan crew before Bob’s arrival. Completing his first ‘2nd dickie’ flight with the Flight Lieutenant W. Wakelin’s crew to Osterfeld on the 11th of December 1944. The following day the new crew would receive a somewhat harsh baptism with their first raid on Witten.

It was not long after I began this journey that I posted a query on the Lancaster Archive Forum. At this point I had literally no information on Bob’s career, apart from his logbook. I posted a thread listing his operational record and the names of his 2 pilots. Amazingly, another member came back with a link to an ancestry website. Within this site was the granddaughter of Zinzan – within her post on this site was the email address of her father, Zinnan’s son. Of course, I emailed him………

Vernon John Zinzan stood on the left, next to him W/O James Sydney Coote

Peter got back to me almost straight away. Sadly, but perhaps inevitably, he, like me, new nothing about his fathers wartime career, but magically, he attached an image of his father, Vernon, and 4 of his crew.

Initially, I was stumped as to how I was going to try to identify the others in the photograph. Compiling the running crew rosta from the ORB let me quickly see that the Navigator, J. Coote (later to be fully identified as James Sydney George Coote) was the only Warrant Officer in the crew. Realising this ‘obvious’ fact allowed me to then identify him in the photograph based on his insignia on his uniform, as opposed to the Sergeants stripes of the other 3 unknown aircrew.


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