Flight Sergeant Eric Neil COOPER

Service No: 403502
Born: Sydney NSW, 19 November 1919
Enlisted in the RAAF: 1 February 1941
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft W4327), Netherlands, 30 March 1943, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Lichtenvoorde General Cemetery, Gelderland, Netherlands
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles and Angela Elizabeth Cooper, of Kiama, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Hurstville NSW
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 29-30 March 1943
Target: Berlin
Total Force: Dispatched – 320, Attacking – 213
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 9, Attacking – 7; No. 467 Dispatched – 12, Attacking – 11
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 578
Total Aircraft Lost: 21
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2

On the night of 29th-30th March very bad weather forced three RAAF crews to abandon the sortie before reaching Berlin. Many other Australians encountered icing conditions and had to modify their flight plan with the result that a badly-marshalled stream of bombers reached Berlin. Finding the target covered with dense cloud, crews were forced to bomb on inadequate markers so that the bombs were scattered over a wide area causing isolated damage only.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Page 497

Lancaster W4327 took off from RAF Station Breighton, East Yorkshire, at 2157 hours on 29 March 1943 to attack Berlin. Bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb and 48 x 30 lb (14 kg), 540 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter at Lievelde (Geiderland), 4kms NNE of Lichten Voorde.

The crew members of W4327 were:

Sergeant William Patrick Delaney Chapman (1316314) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant David Harold Victor Charlick (416322) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Eric Neil Cooper (403502) (Bomb Aimer)
Flying Officer Francis James Falkenmire (411445) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 25 July 1946
Flight Sergeant Gordon Vivian Hampton (408578) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Thomas Hector McNeill (405381) (Navigator)
Sergeant Percy Perry (980250) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)

In a statement by Flying Officer Falkenmire he reported : “At about 0300 hours on the 30 March 1943, we were travelling home in just about 10/10ths cloud, and I heard the Rear Gunner say ‘Look out’ and then I heard canon fire hit us along the floor of the fuselage. The machine nosed over and then dived. I heard nothing from the Captain whom I fear must have been killed immediately. I do not know if anyone else was hit. I put on my parachute and then was thrown to the roof; my reaction was to pill the ripcord. This dragged me out of the machine. I landed practically within 50 feet of the wreckage. The aircraft was burning very furiously with its nose in the ground. I was very dazed but I think it exploded. I ran over to the machine where I saw four bodies, all dead. The Germans told me that besides the four people found dead, two others were still in the machine. I am sorry to have to report that all my crew were killed. They were buried at Dinardo in Holland. Would you please convey to the parents and relatives of the deceased the sincere sympathy of their crews and myself.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ED391 (Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Hugh Grenfell (403735) (Pilot)) on 30 March 1943.


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, 166/8/81


Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985

Book Now Book Now