Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 11 to 16 of 16

Thread: Flt Lt Fred S. Copestake DFC, DFM-Navigator who flew 109 missions, need more info

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    London, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    468
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default Re: Flt Lt Fred S. Copestake DFC, DFM-Navigator who flew 109 missions, need more info

    No date of posting in but he began flying Oboe operations at 105 Squadron in July 1944 with pilot F/L FA Taylor.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Dudley, West Midlands, England.
    Posts
    4
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Re: Flt Lt Fred S. Copestake DFC, DFM-Navigator who flew 109 missions, need more info

    Hello mndosso6,
    This is the 2nd try at passing over this info to you. I pressed the TAB key whilst writing the last message, this finished the message and then when I re-entered and edited the message, I wasn't allowed to send it and ended up losing all of the edited text! Such is life! at any rate, hopefully this message will get to you intact.

    Frederick Stanley Copestake was my Mother's 1st cousin and all of the family are (and were) very proud of his WWII service with Bomber Command. All of the information that has been sent to you so far is correct but here is a list of his service etc. with additional detail from me.
    He :-

    1. Was born in Dudley (probably at 25 Gammage Street, Blowers Green, Dudley, then Worcestershire now West Midlands, England) on the 9 Mar 1920.
    2. Studied at Dudley Grammar School, St. James's Road, Dudley from Sep 1931 until Jun/Jul 1938, being awarded the "Earl of Dudley's Gold Medal" in his final year, in addition to his Higher School Certificate.
    3. Was a keen footballer & cricketer, both playing and umpiring for Netherton Cricket Club, Highbridge Road, Netherton, Dudley, Worcestershire. Lat & Long: 52.488882513682476, -2.0927510629336417. If you enter this Lat & Long into an Internet mapping package such as Google Maps, you can use the “Street View” to view the place now!
    4. Was studying for a Maths (I think) degree at Birmingham University, Edgbaston, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. He would have entered the University in Sep 1938.
    5. (I think) volunteered for the RAF before completing his degree (this needs confirmation but an article from a local paper about his 1st DFM award stated that he joined the RAF in Jan 1941 and he would have been due to take his finals sometime in May/June 1941!)
    6. Did at least some of his training in Canada (where he reckoned to have dropped bombs both the furthest from and nearest to the target of all trainees. He was bob on by the way for the closest but 3 miles away for the furthest, presumably pressing the "tit" inadvertently or in error).
    7. Joined his 1st operational squadron (49 squadron) from 25 OTU Finningley, Nr Doncaster, Yorks. on 18 Apr 1942, as a Sgt. and subsequently Flt. Sgt. with Service No. 1168345. All Bomber crew of course were volunteers and ranked as at least Sergeants.
    8. Flew 31 "ops" in 49 squadron, the 1st 3 in Manchesters and the next 28 in Lancasters.
    9. Flew his 1st "op" on 3 Jun 1942, dropping "Nickels" (leaflets) over Lille, France.
    10. Flew all but 1 of his "ops" with Flt. Sgt. Tom Webster DFM as pilot and if you've looked at the 49 squadron website, you can see and download a copy of Tom's logbook there. Unfortunately, there is an error in the 49 squadron operations record books for the 17 Oct 1942 daylight raid on the Schneider works at Le Creusot, in that, the Lancaster R5757 is shown in those records as being flown by the crew of Sgt. J. R. McDonald. Fortunately, both Tom's logbook and Uncle Fred's citation for his 1st DFM show that he (Uncle Fred) flew as Navigator to a section leader and Tom was the Pilot of R7575.
    11. Flew his 1st 23 "ops" in 49 squadron from Scampton up to and including attacking Duisburg on 20 Dec 1942 and his last 8 "ops" from Fiskerton, Lincs. (not to be confused with Fiskerton, Notts.) beginning on 16 Jan 1943, bombing Berlin. Flt. Sgt. Tom webster’s log book has an error in the entry for this raid, in that he has given the date as 1st Jan 1943, whereas the operations record books clearly show that there were no “ops” from Fiskerton until the 16th Jan, whilst the station was still being made fully ready for “ops”. The 16th Jan 1943 “op” was to Berlin!
    12. Was posted out of 49 squadron on 14 Mar 1943 to 10 OTU, Abingdon, Oxon. All of Uncle Fred's "ops" in 49 squadron can be found in the squadron operation books at "The National Archive", Kew in "AIR 27 / 481", which, as dennis_burke has pointed out, are at present free to access via Internet, after registering (which has always been free).
      P.S. Uncle Fred was sometimes shown as F.S. Copestake & sometimes as F.J. Copestake, in the squadron operation books. This must have been due to someone writing with an old-fashioned capital "S", which could easily have been mis-interpreted as a capital "J" by the typist.
    13. Was cited for a DFM on 19 Mar 1943 presumably by the Squadron Leader of 49 squadron and the award of the DFM was confirmed in the "Supplement to the London Gazette" 18 May 1943 p2201.
    14. Subsequently joined 105 Squadron Pathfinder Force sometime before 12 Jul 1944 as a Wt. Off., still with Service No 1168345. I can't find any record in the squadron's operation books, of Uncle Fred's posting in to 105 Sqn. but he flew his first "op" for 105 against "Homberg" (a synthetic oil plant) on 12 Jul 1944.
    15. Flew 78 "ops" in 105 Sqn., 30 in Mosquito Mk IXs and 48 in Mk XVIs, between 12th July 1944 and 5th May 1945, all piloted by Flt Lt F.A. Taylor DFC and flown from Bourn, Cambs. He flew in the 105 & 109 squadron famous Mk IX LR 503 "F for Freddie" 3 times, in sorties over Coquereaux, Gelsenkirchen & Castrop-Rauxel!
    16. Was appointed to Commission on 29 Aug 1944, as Pt Off on probation, with new Service No. 184113, announced in the "Supplement to the London Gazette" of 10 Oct 1944 p4628. This appears to have been the standard single level promotion (Warrant Officer to commissioned Officer) on entry to the Pathfinder Force. This was to make up for the promotions that aircrew would have probably experienced, had they stayed in the squadron from which they had been “talent spotted”, (probably by Wg. Cmdr. T. G. “Hamish” Mahaddie) and would not experience in the Pathfinder Force, due to the preponderance of experienced men in the Force.
    17. Was discharged from the RAF on 2 Oct 1944 and re-engaged as a commissioned officer, before flying his next "op" on 9 Oct 1944. This was the first "op" in which he was shown in the 105 squadron record books as having Service No. 184113 but continued to be almost randomly shown as being P/O or F/O (presumably typos and/or inability to read the writing on the boards) and with no decorations shown!
    18. Was confirmed in his promotion to commissioned officer and further promoted to Flg Off on 1 Mar 1945, announced in the "Supplement to the London Gazette" of 6 Apr 1945 pp 1842 & 1844, retaining his Service No.184113. He was shown in the operations record book on 2 Mar 1945 as P/O but as F/O on 3 Mar 1945 and with his decorations, but as DFC DFM! I think this probably indicates that he had already been awarded the bar to his DFM whilst he was still a Warrant Officer. Warrant Officers at the time, could have been awarded a DFM or a DFC, the DFM indicating a slightly lower level award. I have yet to find any record of Uncle Fred's award of a bar to his DFM but his obituary (of which you seem to have a copy) shows that not only I and my 1st cousins believe the award to have been given. However, we have never seen Uncle Fred's medals but he wasn't at all the sort of man to overstate his role or awards. After 3 Mar 1945, Uncle Fred was shown in the 105 squadron operation books as DFM only but still alternating between P/O and F/O! His last 3 "ops" in 105 squadron were as part of "Operation Manna" on the 30th Apr, the 3rd and 5th of May 1945, to Ypenberg, Rotterdam & Gouda.
      The last live "op" flown by 105 squadron was as part of "Operation Manna", on VE Day 8th May 1945, Mosquito IX LR513 landing at Bourn at 15:02 from Rotterdam! The 105 squadron operations record books can be consulted at “The National Archives”, Kew in “AIR 27 / 827”.
    19. Was confirmed as being awarded the DFC in in the "Supplement to the London Gazette" of 25 May 1945 pp2267-2268 and was permanently awarded the PFF badge (shown in the squadron operations record books) with effect from the 31 May 1945. On 29 Jun 1945, 105 squadron was moved from Bourn to Upwood, Cambs and V.J. Day came on 15 Aug 1945.
    20. Was posted out of 105 squadron to 1383 TCU at Crosby-on-Eden, Cumb. on 16 Oct 1945
    21. 105 squadron was disbanded on 1st Feb 1946

    Almost all the events in Uncle Fred's subsequent career in the RAF were documented in the "Supplement to London Gazette" from 1948 to his retirement in 1975. Just search its website for Frederick Stanley Copestake, F. S. Copestake and Frederick S. Copestake. That will get all the events (I think), promotions, transfers to Equipment Branch, relinquishment of promotions et al.

    When Uncle Fred retired from the RAF, he returned to live with his by then widowed Mom, at the house in which they had lived since at least 29 Sep 1939, when the 1939 register was taken, i.e., Selborne Road, Dudley (the spelling in his obituary inserts a "u" after the "o" but it is incorrect). Uncle Fred's Mom died 3 years later in 1978, shortly before I was scheduled to visit her and this was a great shock to me. I don't know what job Uncle Fred went on to after retiring from the RAF and unfortunately, none of his cousins on the Copestake side of his family is left alive to consult (It’s one of those cases in which you wish that you had asked your parents etc. the question, but I never did and it’s too late now). I will continue to try and find out if any of my 2nd cousins knows but as there are only 4 of us left on the Copestake side of Fred's family that I'm in touch with (and I've asked all but 1 of them) and I haven't met anyone on Fred's Mom's side of the family for ages, unless I can find some written evidence, things don't look promising!
    Uncle Fred died of a heart attack (which was serious enough to kill him) aged 74, at Selborne Road on a Thursday in May 1994 (I don't yet know which Thursday and I can't remember when it was exactly). I was unable to take my Mom to Uncle Fred's funeral as she was recovering from 2 heart attacks and a stroke herself and, being almost 10 years older than Fred, was too frail by then to go. The RAFA gave Uncle Fred a military funeral at Gornalwood Crematorium, Coopers Bank Road, Pensnett, Dudley, West Midlands DY5 4UQ. Lat & Long: 52.511980, -2.1314786. I need to go to the Crematorium to photograph his inscription, sometime after the "lockdown" has finished. I also intend to visit the Pathfinder Museum at Wyton and the Bomber Command Museum when the "lockdown" has finished and intend to try and obtain Uncle Fred's service record from the RAF. Unfortunately, I have no idea who his next of kin would be recorded as by the RAF, now. This is slightly galling because Fred's nearest relatives now, are the children of his 1st cousins, of which I am one of many but as far as I know, none of us is recorded as his next of kin! Hey Ho, I'll just have to take it as it comes, and see what information they will allow me access to.
    We have only one photograph of Uncle Fred in at Buckingham Palace, with his parents, before receiving his 1st DFM. I can send you a copy if you wish but you'll have to allow me a bit of time to find out how to do it via this forum. I also have a photograph of him umpiring at Netherton Cricket club but it’s a half-toned print from the club’s centenary brochure in 1966, so the quality is poor. I'm still trying to find out which newspaper reporter took the photograph, so in which local paper it was published and therefore find out if the paper still holds copies of the photograph.
    By the way, how on earth did you come to obtain Uncle Fred's uniform? Is there any chance of sending me a photograph of it as I'm the family's amateur genealogist and am obviously trying to gather all information about Uncle Fred, and record it, as, after my generation, there will be no members that either knew him, or know of him and I don't want his history to be totally lost to the future!

    Cheers,
    cjseamoggy

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    141
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default Re: Flt Lt Fred S. Copestake DFC, DFM-Navigator who flew 109 missions, need more info

    Fred was a junior staff officer (FltLt) at HQ Air Forces Gulf, Bahrain when I arrived there in January 1968. He did not enjoy the work of an Equipment Officer and he made that clear! He was a bit more cheerful in the Juffair Joint Officers' Mess where most of the living-in contingent were similarly serving on a one-year unaccompanied tour. The Army officers looked at him rather quizzically - a junior officer with a DFC and DFM. I often chatted to him but he was always reticent about his background. I don't recall when he left the Gulf.

    Jim

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    3
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Re: Flt Lt Fred S. Copestake DFC, DFM-Navigator who flew 109 missions, need more info

    Good afternoon,
    A totally random coincidence that I was talking to my father (a retired RAF Pathfinder Navigator) on Friday evening about a donation he is planning on making to a charity I am involved with which is restoring to flight a DH98 Mosquito in the UK. When I asked my father about a dedication for the donation he started to talk about Fred.
    They first met when on an Equipment Course at RAF Bircham Newton after my Father had returned from Flying Training in Canada. Afterwards they were both posted to RAF Henlow, from where dad subsequently went on to flying duties. Fred was the best man at my parents wedding in February 1958 and dad says he was a great friend. He remembers the pair of them travelling to London to get new uniforms for the wedding from Moss Bross in Covent Garden and Fred making another trip to return with 4 ceremonial swords for them and 2 other officers.
    I will try to find their wedding album and see if there are any photographs of Fred in there.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Dudley, West Midlands, England.
    Posts
    4
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Re: Flt Lt Fred S. Copestake DFC, DFM-Navigator who flew 109 missions, need more info

    Hello Magnum302,
    I'm sorry that I haven't replied sooner but, even though I've had personal computers since about 1981 (ZX81, BBC Micro, Acorn machines, various IBM compatibles etc.), I'm afraid that I need "L" plates as regards bulletin boards! This is the 1st bulletin board that I've subscribed to, so I hope you'll forgive me. The way in which I was displaying the "mndoss6" thread, didn't show that my full reply to him had missed the target and started a new thread and neither did it show that your reply was to my new thread rather than to mndoss6! Now that I've employed a view which specifically shows the threads, I've now recognised that your post is attached to the new thread which I've inadvertently begun!
    Its great to be able to contact 2 people on line who knew Fred (jimroutledge & your father), as uncle Fred, if still alive, would be 101 now! We (Fred's Copestake family), have only 1 photograph of him in uniform, namely a photograph of him outside Buckingham Palace gates just before receiving his 1st D.F.M. presumably from The King. I do posess a couple of copies of photographs of Fred from the 1966 centenary booklet of the Netherton Cricket & Tennis Club but they are taken from crudely half-toned newspaper photographs and so, better than nothing but not of good quality. I would therefore, appreciate any copies of Fred that you would feel able to let me have. In return of course, I would send you copies of the photographs of Fred that I have. I only met Fred once, when I was about 14, when he came to our home on boxing day and of course, as a young boy then, I was in awe of this triply decorated WWII Bomber Command veteran and to me an absolute hero. Fred wasn't a man to boast and like many veterans rarely talked about his combat experiences (which as a young boy then, was what I was most interested in but being in awe, couldn't lead the conversation with him), so, I can't now remember what we talked about!
    As you can probably guess from my post, I have been investigating Fred's WWII service closely and have copies of all of the squadron operations book & "Supplement to the London Gazette" pages which refer to Fred (over 150 images in total) but I have yet to fill in the gap between his finishing his 1st "tour" in 49 squadron (being posted out to No.10 O.T.U. on 14 Mar 1943) and his returning to "ops" with 105 squadron on 12th Jul 1944. I presume that he was training new navigators in O.T.U.s etc. The records for O.T.U.s etc. are maintained at The National Archives but are not as yet digitised and so are only accessible by visiting Kew in person. I have sent a request to the R.A.F. at Cranwell for Fred's Service Record, which should include records of which O.T.U.s etc. he served in, which will guide me to the correct records at T.N.A. I understand however, that the waiting times at the moment for these requests to be fulfilled, is about a year! So, I will just wait, before searching for these records at T.N.A.
    I presume that the Mosquito project of which you speak is "The Peoples Mosquito". I have been reading about it, via the Internet and had already been considering a contribution to it because of Fred. If you do decide to refer to Fred with the donation, please let me know as I would like to do the self same thing.
    Now all I need to do, is find out how to send images via this forum!

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Dudley, West Midlands, England.
    Posts
    4
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Re: Flt Lt Fred S. Copestake DFC, DFM-Navigator who flew 109 missions, need more info

    Hello jimroutledge,
    Fred was a very modest man throughout his life and like most of the "Bomber Boys" didn't really consider himself a hero. I'm afraid that we're not very good at self-promotion in our family and I suppose I'm not particularly surprised that Army officers looked rather askance at Fred. He wouldn't have had the slightest trace of a swagger because of his WWII service but he really was decorated with D.F.C, D.F.M. and bar, plus the permanent award of the P.F.F. badge on 31 May 1945. If you take a look at my post (with which I had tried to reply to mndoss6 but missed the target and started a new thread!) of 17th Mar 2021, you'll see that Fred completed his 1st tour in 49 squadron Manchesters & Lancasters (31 "ops") on 2nd Mar 1943 (which included the daylight raid on the Schneider steelworks at Le Creusot, France on 17 Oct 1942) and completed 78 ops (3 tours, the final tour being incomplete due to V.E. Day) in 105 squadron P.F.F. Mosquito B Mk. IXs & Mk. XVIs, mostly, if not all being "musical" i.e. "Oboe" equipped, between 12th Jul 1944 and 5th May 1945.
    Fred studied at the Dudley Grammar School from 1931 to 1938, winning the "Earl of Dudley Gold Medal" in his final year, passed his Higher School Certificate and went to Birmingham University, studying for a Maths degree. I am at the moment trying to find out (by writing to the alumni organisation of the University), whether or not he graduated, before serving in the RAF.
    Fred's Dad was a Master Tailor and had been planning, with a colleague from the wholesale clothing manufacturer's in Dudley, where they worked, to go into partnership in their own tailoring business. WWII put an end to that and after WWII, I think that Fred's Dad, being by 1945, 63 years old, had lost the energy to open his own business.
    I didn't know by the 17 Mar 2021 post, that Fred had returned to service in the RAF from at least 1952, he found it difficult to find a civiian job to suit him (he was a very intelligent man, completing the cryptic crossword from possibly either "The Guardian" or "The Times" on his journey by train to Birmingham University each day, a journey of approx. 35 mins. He wasn't too pleased if he hadn't completed it during the journey!) and I'm pretty sure, missed the comradeship of the armed services.
    Fred bought a memorial stone to Dudley, which had been collected by Flt. Lt. John Edwards from Kilimanjaro, to be mounted on the "Peace Cairn" on Ben Nevis, (which had been initially erected by the Dudley Vicar Street, Men's Bible Class & its leader, Bert Bissell on VJ day 1945, Fred having been a member pre-war and his home was 3 doors from that of Bert Bissell in Dudley), engraved as an R.A.F. Tribute to Peace and bearing both John Edwards and Fred's names and ranks, but typically for Fred, with no mention of his decorations. The latest photograph I have via the Internet of the stone, showed it to have become detached from the cairn and by then (2008), was in 3 pieces!
    Incidentally, I haven't received any form of reply from mndoss6, even though my post provides all sorts of detail that he requested in his initial post. Do you have any idea why? Could it be because I've missed the target and inadvertently begun a new thread? Do I perhaps need to move my post into the mndoss6 thread, making it an explicit reply to him?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •