G/Cpt Tom Cooper

Discussion in 'War Grave Photographs' started by ranger, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. ranger

    ranger Junior Member

    Hi
    I am trying to trace the final resting place of Group Captain Tom Cooper, I think he was with 38th Wing/Group for most of the war. Was co-pilot to S/ldr Wilkinson on the Telemark raid, then St Co at Tarrant Ruston. Would like to photograph his grave for a project I am doing on 38th Wing/group

    ranger
     
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Did he die during or after the war?
     
  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    is this the chap
    Everyone who served at RAF Tarrant Rushton during the Second World War remembers its charismatic, dynamic and determined commanding officer - Group Captain Tom Cooper.

    Almost everyone on the station held him in high regard, pointing out that he would never ask others to do what he had not done first!

    But what happened to Group Captain Cooper after he left Tarrant Rushton ? Many have asked the question but no-one has found the answer ... until now.

    It’s not known where Group Captain Cooper - known affectionately by everyone outside his earshot as "Groupie Cooper" - went after RAF Tarrant Rushton was closed down and put on a care and maintenance basis in September, 1946.

    He had arrived at Tarrant Rushton in September, 1943, when he flew in a prototype Albemarle MK Four two-engined bomber for glider towing trials.

    But in December, 1948, Group Captain Tom Cooper became the Superintendent of Flying at the top secret Arms and Armaments Evaluation Establishment at Boscombe Down north of Salisbury in Wiltshire.

    After his wartime days, the Group Captain was awarded an OBE to sit alongside his DFC which he received in April, 1942, when wing commander in charge of Coastal Command’s 502 Squadron which operated deep over the Atlantic.

    Born at Quorndon, Leicestershire, in 1908, Thomas Bruce Cooper was educated at St Bedes in Eastbourne, Repton and St John’s Cambridge where he was a member of the University Air Squadron.

    Group Captain Cooper was commissioned in 1929 and served on flying duties at Calshot in Hampshire and on engineering duties in Singapore. December, 1940, saw him promoted to wing commander.

    But nine years later on March 5th, 1949, he lost his life while test flying a Meteor 4 No. RA 382 from Boscombe Down, north-east of Salisbury in Wiltshire. The airfield was the Royal Air Force's Arms and Armaments Evaluation Establishment - it's top secret base for testing new aircraft and related developments.

    Meteor Mark 4 jet No. RA 382 was the first of the long-nosed Meteor 4s with an extended fuselage behind the cockpit and a new-style fighter tail to improve the jet’s handling. Group Captain Cooper took off at 2.30 pm for a weather and stick force ‘G’ tests in 8/8ths cloud layered to 20,000 feet.

    A high priority test of the newly modified jet which had problems with its artificial horizon, visibility on the ground was four to five miles with rain changing to snow. Group Captain Cooper lost control of his Meteor in cloud.

    The jet crashed into the ground 60 yards from Heatherlea Farm - narrowly missing two houses - close to the Iron Age Figsbury Ring north-east of Boscombe Down. He had been in the air for just nine minutes.

    Group Captain Cooper - RAF number 01580 - lies buried in the Boscombe Down section of the Durrington village cemetery on the Amesbury to Netheravon road.

    His funeral - with full military honours - took place in All Saints Church at Durrington. Grave No. 887 reads:

    " Group Captain Thomas Bruce Cooper OBE, DFC, RAF. Born March 6th, 1908. Killed in a flying accident on March 5th, 1949. Greatly beloved "

    Group Captain Cooper died just one day short of his 41st birthday - a sad but perhaps not surprising end for a great and determined man whose life was the RAF, and - between 1943 and 1946 - RAF Tarrant Rushton and its squadrons.

    Airmen remember that at short notice he would take on any aircrew operational duties - except pilot - in any crew such as rear gunner, navigator, flight engineer, bomb aimer, wireless operator in the event of an airman going sick.


    Sqn Ldr T B Cooper DFC 4/3/45 - RafCommands Forums
     
  4. ranger

    ranger Junior Member

    Thanks CL1, that is the guy I am after, will take a look at Durrington cemetry when I am next down that way regards Ranger
     
  5. ramacal

    ramacal 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

  6. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    A little more on the above loss.........

    The aircraft was on a high altitude weather check and test flight to examine 'G' force factors and had been airborne for about 10 minutes when it dived out of cloud at high speed and crashed near Heatherley Farm, Figsbury Ring. The pilot, G/Cpt. Thomas Bruce Cooper, OBE DFC, had taken off with one of the two vacuum pumps which drove Gyro instruments unserviceable and it is thought possible that the instruments may have failed or that the gyros toppled when 'G' was applied. The pilot, despite having over 2000 flying hours was not in current instrument flying practice and had no instrument rating. It was also thought possible that the port engine failed or that the pilot may have had problems with the oxygen supply but cause of the loss remains obscure.. the aircraft, Meteor F4 RA382, had been damaged in an earlier accident and had been rebuilt as a long nosed F4 with a 30" plug inserted. On return to service, the aircraft had been used in wind tunnel tests and had the E1/144 fighter tail unit fitted to improve its handling. The Board of Inquiry observed that to fly the unique test aircraft in the weather conditions prevailing was a serious error of judgment of Group captain Cooper.

    Extract from 'Final Landings' - Cummings.
     
  7. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    There was about 3500 Meteors built and about 450 fatal casualties,chiefly pupil pilots being lost during training.The "Meatbox" was a difficult aircraft to control when it, by chance, wandered out of its operating envelope.An inexperienced pilot would stand little chance of correcting the aircraft.(Apparently the Hampden could be like this,the pilots who recognised the symptoms lived to tell the tale by being able to correct its perturbations and were able to built up their experience of handling the type.)

    On the Meteor,some failures were thought to have occurred due to aggregate overstessing of the aircraft and there was the odd aircraft,believe it or not,which was not equipped with an ejector seat.

    Have seen the type in Bomber Command as the personal steed of those who had the rank to requistion one.
     
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

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