Flying Officer Charles Alan COBERN

Service No: 5870
Born: Launceston TAS, 11 March 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 10 January 1940 (at RAAF Station Laverton VIC)
Unit: No. 57 Squadron (RAF), RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 57 Squadron Lancaster aircraft RA530), Lincolnshire, 20 March 1945, Aged 28 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles Melville Cobern and of Beatrice Ada Cobern, of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia; husband of Sheila Cosway Cobern, of Rose Bay, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Launceston TAS
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

The Germans gave priority to repairing the Bohlen oil installations because of their relative distance from English bomber bases, and within a fortnight Bomber Command assessed that some units were again in operation. Thus on 20th-21st March No. 463 sent 16 and No. 467 17 crews in a force of 224 which in much better weather dropped 946 tons of bombs in the most concentrated of the series of attacks against Bohlen. Photographs, obtained 12 hours after the main attack, showed fires burning in various parts of the plant; apart from severe and widespread damage to vital units the internal marshalling yards had been heavily hit and it was estimated that Bohlen was unlikely to be substantially operative for at least two months. In the event, because of the progress of the armies, no further bombing attack was necessary, but this last attack was relatively costly as 10 bombers were lost, including one of No. 463 and one each piloted by Australians of Nos. 50, 57, 61, 97 and 207 Squadrons, while another Australian pilot failed to return from a small feint attack by 12 aircraft against Halle which was intended to divert enemy fighters from Bohlen.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 427

Lancaster RA530 took off from RAF East Kirkby at 2345 hours on the night of 20/21st March 1945, detailed to bomb a synthetic oil plant at Bohlen, Germany. Within few minutes of take off RA 530 crashed into a house near Stickney, 10 kms north north east of Boston on the main road leading to the Lincolnshire town of Spilsby. Four of the crew were killed and three were injured.

The crew members of RA530 were:

Sergeant Kenneth Cromwell Ashun (3010619) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant R Bates (15833) (RAF) (Wireless Air Gunner) Injured
Flying Officer William Frederick Calderbank (154318) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flying Officer Charles Alan Cobern (5870) (Pilot)
Sergeant E Lawrence (1892961) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner) Injured
Sergeant Alan Ramsbottom (1482867) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant William Stacey Searby (1577517) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber) Fatally Injured, Died: 1 April 1945

No. 50 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster ME441 (Pilot Officer Allan Neil Levy (429153) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster PB845 (Flying Officer Richard Stewart Bennett (436327) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 57 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster LM653 (Flight Lieutenant Aubrey Robert Palling (428261) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945

No. 61 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster RA560 (Flying Officer John Frederick Swales (422989) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 97 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA973 (Flight Lieutenant John Dennis Cottman (418813) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 207 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA196 (Flying Officer Raymond Allan Lewis (19892) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

In the small feint attack against Halle, No. 227 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA259 (Flying Officer Warren Henry Pitts (436480) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/8/929

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