F/S Vernon John Zinzan. Pilot
F/O Owen Cook. Second Pilot*
P/O James Sydney George Coote. Navigator
F/O Robert Douglas. Sommerville. Air Bomber
Sgt. Miles Parr. Wireless Operator
Sgt. A. Ackroyd. Flight Engineer
Sgt. H. Hutchinson. Mid Upper Gunner
F/Sgt. Herbert Steele. Rear Gunner
*The initial identity of the pilot that undertook this second dickie flight was a mystery to me – his name and serial number being a rather indecipherable hand written annotation to the ORB. On the Sunday morning of the summer reunion at Mepal my sister, mother and I went to the memorial garden so mum could see it and the plaque for Dad. while we were there, an old couple, their daughter and her husband arrived. A brief discussion about their whereabouts (i.e. that this was the memorial garden for 75(NZ) Squadron) led to a discussion in the garden and then the 3 Pickerels. The elderly gentleman was called Owen Cook and he had been at the squadron towards the end of the war. On returning home I looked through the nominal roll and the orb and found Owen’s arrival and op history. Finding his serial number suddenly made me realise that the individual that flew with the Zinzan crew on this raid was in fact, Owen Cook……..
Lancaster Mk.I RF157
“X” for X-Ray
Bomb Load 1 x 5,00 ANM., 2 x 350 Munroe 4 x 750 clusters No. 15 7 x 500 clusters No.14.
Rather a scattered raid. Area covered by incendiaries too big for Dessau.
Up 08.32 7th March
Down 02.30 8th March
Total Flight Time 8 hours 52 minutes
75 (NZ) Sqn RAF Operations Record Book (ORB)
Thirteen aircraft attacked Dessau as ordered. Aircraft bombed in 10/10ths haze and thin cloud. Crews were given instructions by M/B to bomb on Skymarkers but some were able to make out T.I’s and in two cases identify the street. Fires were burning over a wide area when aircraft left the target. Flak practically nil in target area. Some E/A were seen and AA”S” F/L Spilman had a short inconclusive encounter. A satisfactory operation.
Page 130, 1945. Form 540/ 541 AIR27/ 647 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal. National Archives.
Bomber Command War Diary
7 March 1945
526 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3, 6 and 8 Groups raided Dessau. 18 Lancasters lost, 3.4 per cent of the force. This was another devastating raid on a new target in Eastern Germany with the usual town centre, residential, industrial and railway areas all being hit.
256 Halifaxes and 25 Lancasters of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups attempted to attack the Deutsche Erdoel refinery at Hemmingstedt, near Heide, with little success. 4 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster lost.
234 Lancasters and 7 Mosquitos of No 5 Group carried out an accurate attack on the oil refinery at Harburg. 14 Lancasters lost. No 189 Squadron, from Fulbeck, lost 4 of its 16 Lancasters on the raid. One local report states that a rubber factory was seriously damaged as well as the oil targets.
80 Mosquitos to Berlin, 10 to Frankfurt, 9 to Münster and 5 to Hannover, 56 RCM sorties, 43 Mosquito patrols, 15 Halifaxes and 5 Lancasters minelaying off Eckemforde and Flensburg. 4 aircraft were lost – 2 Halifaxes and 1 Fortress of No 100 Group and 1 Mosquito from the Berlin raid.
Owen cook is my father in law. He lives in Geelong Australia. Am I able to find his op history in Australia? He misplaced his ops log book many years ago and would like to see his history again. Campbell mctavish, Geelong Australia.
Fantastic to hear from you. I in fact met Owen, his wife and – and forgive my poor ability at working out relatives, I think your sister and her husband at the memorial garden last summer – it was an utterly chance meeting and it wasn’t until I had got back home and had a look through the ORB regarding Owen’s tour history that I realised it was Owen that flew as 2nd pilot with Dad’s crew. Over lunch we discussed my plans for the Squadron website – before I decided to do this blog as a stop gap – so if you have a photo of Owen, or in fact the crew, it would be fantastic to put up.
A potted history of Owen’s time at Mepal is as follows;
2.3.45 Pilot Officer O.J.Cook and crew arrive from No.72 Base.
4.3.45 P/O Cook 2nd pilot with Egglestone crew War Ops – Wanne Eickel.
5.3.45 War Ops – Gelsenkirchen
6.3.45 War Ops – Salzbergen
7/8/.3.45 2nd Pilot with Zinzan crew. War Ops – Dessau.
17.3.45 War Ops – Auguste Viktoria
1.5.45 Operation ‘Manna’ – supply dropping over Delft.
7.5.45 Operation ‘Manna’ – supply dropping over the Hague.
10.5.45 Prisoner of War repatriation – Juvincourt.
12.5.45 Prisoner of War repatriation – Juvincourt.
15.5.45 Prisoner of War repatriation – Juvincourt.
When I get a bit more time and if you would be interested I can send you copies of the Squadron Operational Record Books that cover these raids.
Once again, many thanks for contacting me.