COPELAND Gerald Ware 406548

LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer Gerald Ware COPELAND 

Service No: 406548
Born: Kalgoorlie WA, 16 June 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 1 February 1941
Unit: No. 78 Squadron (RAF), RAF Croft, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: Bombing Technique (No. 78 Squadron Halifax aircraft W7662), Germany, 4 May 1942, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Hamburg Cemetery, Hamburg, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Thomas Edward and Lenna Grace Copeland, of Perth, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Kalgoorlie WA
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Halifax W7662 took off from RAF Croft at 2254 hours on the night of 3/4th May 1942, detailed to bomb Hamburg, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft crashed at Lunburg Heath and six of the crew were killed with Pilot Officer Hanna becoming a Prisoner of War.

The crew members of W7662 were:

Pilot Officer Gerald Ware Copeland (406548) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant Dennis Waterman Drew (1208196) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Pilot Officer J E Hanna (115854) (RAF) (Rear Gunner) PoW
Pilot Officer Alfred William Hedge (400588) (Pilot)
Sergeant John Hewitson (1180812) (RAFVR) (Observer)
Sergeant Frederick Roberts Hipwell (182913) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant John Archibald Lloyd (1256600) (RAF) (Wireless Air Gunner)

Sergeant Hanna later reported: “The aircraft was hit during enemy action and Sergeant Hewitson was wounded. I heard the Captain tell Pilot Officer Copeland to attend to the wounded man.  Hewitson was badly wounded in two places. Soon after one of the engines caught fire and the Captain gave the order to adjust Hewitson’s chute and get him clear of the aircraft.  Shortly the Captain ordered abandon Aircraft which I did. I saw the aircraft crash and I think I saw one of the wings come off, which may account for the others failing to escape.”

References:

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, 163/98/498

Bibliography:

Gaston, Bruce DFC (406646), Harry Horner DFC OAM (406595), Raymond Storer (406666) (Editors), Aircrew for the Duration: of and by members of RAAF EATS Courses 10, 11, 12 & 13, Gaston Horner and Storer, Nedlands WA, 1990