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Thread: William Hugh COCKBURN DFM - 233 Sqn

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Northumberland, UK
    Thanked 207 Times in 202 Posts

    Default William Hugh COCKBURN DFM - 233 Sqn

    Hello again

    I'm trying to cross-check some Ops flown by Sgt. W H Cockburn with 233 Squadron with Hudson serials, and they're proving to be a little frustrating. I just wanted to check I'm not going wrong somewhere...?

    The citation for his D.F.M. reads:

    COCKBURN William Hugh
    233 Sqn
    Sorties 141
    Flying hours 730
    Air 2/9257

    This N.C.O. has a long record of devotion to duty whilst flying on operations against the enemy. He has done 730 hours flying operational flying in 141 sorties and fought 15 actions against the enemy which are detailed below:
    10/11/1939 - Attacked enemy submarine, North Sea
    18/2/1940 - Attacked enemy destroyer, North Sea
    14/4/1940 - Bombed enemy submarine, North Sea
    22/4/1940 - Bombed petrol tanks at Bergen
    10/5/1940 - Escorted H.M.S. Kelly, engaged Do-18
    1/6/1940 - Bombed shipping at Bergen
    21/6/1940 - Attacked four merchant vessels, Norway
    22/6/1940 - Attacked Do-18
    30/6/1940 - Attacked merchnat vessels on S.A.2
    8/8/1940 - Attacked enemy submarine
    21/8/1940 - Engaged enemy aircraft, North Sea
    5/10/1940 - Attacked merchant vessels off Stavanger
    7/10/1940 - Attacked merchant vessels of Raege Fjord and engaged Do-18
    14/11/1940 - Bombed Stavanger aerodrome
    1/12/1940 - Bombed quays at Kristiansand

    So that's all great, but he's not mentioned in the ORB Form 541 for any of these events. For example:

    November 10th 1939
    Hudson I N7223 ZS-V [letter from ORB Appendices]
    Up: 12.22
    Down: 17.xx
    P/O Mould
    Sgt. McCrossan

    Continuous Patrol
    One submarine was spotted in position QBLZ [QSLZ?] 4030 at 15.20 while flying at 700 feet. It was holding up a Norwegian merchant vessel loaded with timber. When submarine sighted aircraft it fired two signal cartridges and then immediately commenced to submerge. By the time the aircraft was in position to attack submarine was completely submerged. One bomb was dropped in estimated position of submarine. Damage done unknown. Six merchant vessels were also seen.

    That's seemingly the same event as recorded in the citation, but the ORB always lists just two crew - shouldn't there be four (or five?) in a Hudson? Pilot, Navigator, Bomb Aimer, W/Op [and] Gunner? Cockburn was I believe a W/Op Air Gunner when he was with 233 Sqn.

    I just want to double check I'm not having a senior moment...!


    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Limerick, Ireland.
    Thanked 14 Times in 12 Posts

    Default Re: William Hugh COCKBURN DFM - 233 Sqn


    unfortunately 233 Squadron were terrible in regard to recoding the full crew names. They only recorded the pilot and navigator, never the WOp/AG and air gunner (even if the latter was an officer). This was their standard practice and it persisted well into 1941 IIRC. 269 Squadron were the same and the flying boat squadrons generally recorded only the two or three pilots.
    Now here is a strange fact ! When 233 Squadron moved to Aldergrove during August 1940 for about a month and again in December 1940 and into 1941 the crew names of all four men were recorded in the 502 Squadron F.541. This resident unit seemed to act as the recording entity for operational flights from the airbase for all the units stationed there at that time. These are not to be found in the Aldergrove ORB itself.

    Hope this helps a little,


    Martin Gleeson.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Northumberland, UK
    Thanked 207 Times in 202 Posts

    Default Re: William Hugh COCKBURN DFM - 233 Sqn


    That's very helpful indeed. It's frustrating that whoever was compiling the 233 Sqn ORB didn't enter the full crew details, if indeed they had them, but it is what it is.

    The 502 Sqn ORB was much more useful, and their Appendices (which are actually typed...praise be!) were even more so. I found Cockburn mentioned on a few Ops in August and into September, so that's very useful.

    Thanks again,

    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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