Tag Archives: Kenneth Saunders

Owen Joseph ‘Cookie’ Cook – Pilot

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© National Archives, Kew.

Whilst transcribing Bob’s tour and crew histories, early in my research on him, I hit a brick wall regarding the identity of  a second pilot added to the Form 541 by hand for the Dessau Op of 7th March 1945.

On the Sunday morning of the summer reunion at Mepal 2012, 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 Pilot that flew with the Zinzan crew on this raid was in fact, Owen Cook……..

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Owen Joseph ‘Cookie’ Cook RAAF AUS.428456 – Pilot.
© Owen Cook

I was really pleased to hear from Campbell, Owen’s son-in-law, a few weeks ago and am doubly pleased to report that Owen is still fit and well!

Not long after posting the ‘B’ Flight group picture , I was contacted by Jan, who on coming across the blog and then discovering Owen’s name on the ‘B’ Flight photograph, then saw her own father – Owens navigator Jack Mitcherson. Not only have I found out more about the crew, I have also been able to put Jan in contact with Campbell – Jack is still alive and it would be fantastic if the ‘old’ boys could met up again….

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Owen receiving his Pilot’s Wings at 7S.F.T.S. in Ontario, Lake Erie, September 1943.
© Owen Cook

crew front

The Cook crew, taken Nottingham, November 1944.
Back row L to R; Ken Saunders Mid Upper Gunner, Owen Cook Pilot, John Gray Navigator.
Front row L to R; Peter Fletcher Rear Gunner, R. Fisher Air Bomber and Jack Mitcherson Wireless Operator. (Duncan Walker, Flight Engineer not present in photograph).
© Owen Cook

crew back

Reverse of group photograph. The hand written note at the bottom identifies this photograph was taken before the Flight Engineer Duncan Walker joined the crew – as opposed to simply being in it, so would suggest it was taken at an O.T.U.
© Owen Cook

The Cook crew were;
P/O Owen Joseph ‘Cookie’ Cook, RAAF AUS.428456 – Pilot
F/Sgt John ‘Jock’ Gray, RAFVR – Navigator.
Sgt R. ‘Fishpond’ Fisher, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/Sgt Jack ‘Mitch’ Mitcherson, RAAF AUS.432532 – Wireless Operator
F/Sgt Duncan Walker, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt Kenneth Saunders, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt Peter ‘Butch’ Fletcher, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

2.3.45
ADMINISTRATION.
Pilot Officer O.J.Cook and crew arrive from No.72 Base.

4.3.45. War Ops – Wanne Eickel. P/O Cook 2nd pilot with Egglestone crew.

5.3.45. War Ops – Gelsenkirchen.
Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S.

6.3.45. War Ops – Salzbergen.
Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L.

7/8/.3.45. War Ops – Dessau. P/O Cook 2nd pilot with Zinzan crew.

18.3.45. War Ops.- Heligoland.
Lancaster Mk.I PB762 AA-B.

17.3.45. War Ops – Auguste Viktoria.
Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R

1.5.45. Operation ‘Manna’ – supply dropping over Delft.
Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L
Supplies Carried – 31/2 Packs – Saw white cross and T.I. with lots of bags. Good dropping with white signals, and “Thanks Boys” was written on the roof of one house. All packs were dropped.

7.5.45. Operation ‘Manna’ – supply dropping over the Hague.
The ORB shows that Sgt. Saunders not present for this Op – there were no Mid Upper Gunners on this mission, instead his place was taken by ‘LAC Saunders K.’, however there is no record of such an individual, so one must assume this is in fact is Ken Saunders.

10.5.45. Prisoner of War repatriation – Juvincourt.
12.5.45. Prisoner of War repatriation – Juvincourt.
15.5.45. Prisoner of War repatriation – Juvincourt.

3.7.45.
POSTINGS
All the Australian members of the Squadron were posted to R.A.F. Gamston pending repatriation. The squadron was very sorry to say goodbye to these gallant companions.

4.7.45.
POSTINGS
23 members of the Squadron (R.A.F. Personnel) who were declared redundant when the Australians left the Squadron were today posted to R.A.F. Station Burn,

JN X composite image

This set of 3 photographs of JN-X are fascinating. The 2 images above, I have seen a number of times before – first as part of the Imperial War Museum collection and then as part of the personal collection of Jimmy Wood, AB with Russell Bank’s crew. What is interesting is the image below – it clearly shows another – to me never before seem view of JN-X, taken one would assume just before the armourers arrived in the top right hand image.

lanc refuelling2

A ‘new’ view of JN-X. Mepal 1945
© Owen Cook

Daily H9115Trieste warning

A clipping from the Daily Herald, 1945, describing the repatriation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt.

ANDES_in suez cana_Oct1945

A photograph from the bridge of H.M.S. Andes during its passage (with Owen on board), through the Suez Canal on its trip back to Australia.
© Owen Cook

75th Sq Icon cropped

75(NZ) Squadron RAF Crest. The Crest was painted by a man named Greenham, a commercial artist who was from Caulfield in Melbourne Victoria where Owen lived at the time. They were both waiting for the troop ship to bring them home after the war. Someone had drawn the little black and white sketch of the mascot and Owen paid 10 shillings for the man to paint it for him.
© Owen Cook

Sadly, as a footnote to this post, I hear last week from Campbell that Jack Mitcherson has recently passed away – such a shame that to first have the boys discover they were still with us, that they then ran out of time to see each other again. I and I am sure all of the 75(NZ) community pass their heartfelt condolences on to Jan and her family.

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