Pilot Officer John Albert Basil COOPER

Service No: 408628
Born: Mont Albert VIC, 1 February 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 22 may 1941
Unit: No. 103 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Elsham Wolds
Died: Air Operations: (No. 103 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JA855), Netherlands, 26 July 1943, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Lionel Kingsley Cooper and Ann Ethel Linda Cooper, of South Camberwell, Victoria. Australia
Roll of Honour: Camberwell VIC
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Lancaster JA855 took off from RAF Elsham Wolds at 2157 hours on the night of 25 July 1943 detailed to bomb Essen, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft was shot down by a night fighter at a height of 22,000 feet and crashed at 0046 hours on 26 July 1943 onto Cleefawitt Estate at Elsendorf, approximately 14 kms south east of Uden. Five of the crew members were killed and three taken Prisoners of War.

The crew members of JA855 were:

Flight Sergeant Kenneth Archer (591125) (RAF) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant J L Brazil (798955) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner) PoW
Sergeant J M Bucklitsch (1338143) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber) PoW
Squadron Leader G R Carpenter (85924) (RAFVR) (Pilot) PoW
Pilot Officer John Albert Basil Cooper (408628) (Navigator)
Sergeant George Henry Newbolt (1549717) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant Kenneth Charles Tate (650164) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant James Henry Thornton (1577977) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)

Squadron Leader Carpenter later reported “Due to enemy action we were forced to abandon the aircraft by parachute. I was still at the controls and think that Pilot Officer Cooper passed me to go forward to the escape hatch. I have seen nothing of Cooper since. I met Sergeant Brazil and he told me that he followed Cooper to the escape hatch and found Cooper looking through the opening. As Cooper appeared to be hesitating Brazil pushed Cooper out as he considered conditions were becoming critical in the aircraft. Brazil then jumped and landed safely.”

Sergeant Brazil reported “Cooper left the aircraft immediately behind the Captain Squadron Leader
Carpenter and I followed him. He was wearing a chute. That was the last I saw of him.”

Sergeant Bucklitsch reported “According to my Wireless Operator Cooper jumped from the aircraft after Squadron Leader Carpenter and before Brazil. He was uninjured and wearing his parachute.”


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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 163/98/780


Charlwood, D.E.C. (Donald Ernest Cameron) (408794) No Moon Tonight (Angus and Robertson 1956), Penguin Ringwood VIC, 3134, 1991

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