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Thread: Lyansder SD operation 17-8-40 P/O Coghlan

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    Default Lyansder SD operation 17-8-40 P/O Coghlan

    I am researching early RAF SD operations, and the Lysander flight by F/O Coghlan on the night of August 17. He was carrying a Belgian SIS agent calle Henri Leenaeerts, and he failed to return. Coghlan's body was apparently washed ashore some weeks later, and he was buried in Boulogne. The Lysander presumably did what Lysanders did on contact with water, and sank like a stone. Coghlan's log-book shows that up to 3 August he had had one half-hour 'experience' flight as pilot in March 1939 before being posted to Ringway on 7/8/40; Verity reckoned that it took a month for him to learn enough; Coghlan had a week.

    There is doubt over the aircraft he was flying, and contributors to this forum may be able to help, as it has already contributed to the debate. AHB believes it to have been R2625, on the basis that two Lysanders (R2625 and R2626) were alloted to 419 Flight on 10/8/40. As R2626 was still around in 1944, R2625 looks to be the one. However, Joss Leclercq on this forum reckoned it to be N1203; and Ken Merrick in 'Flights of the Forgotten' p 33, quotes both R2625 and R2626 as being on charge a year later. (I spent yesterday in the PRO/NA trying to find supporting documentation.)

    If either Henk Welting, John Larder or Joss Leclercq are still with this forum (and recent postings indicate this is at least partly so), can I please resuscitate this topic.

    Nick Livingstone

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    Nic,
    I've COGHLAN on R2625 (419 SD Flt/138 Sqn), body washed ashore 23-9-1940. As far as I know CWGC has Coghlan as 56 Sqn.
    N1203 was assigned to Para Pctce Flt, Ringway and missing 18-8-1940 on SD mission.
    Was Coghlan homebound or the Belgian SIS-agent Henri Leenaerts also missing ?
    Regards,
    Henk.

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    hello

    56 Squadron was COGHLAN's previous unit, he flew with it during the Battle of France. "Special duties" were still in their very early days, I have his unit as Parachute Training Unit, Central Landing School.

    I too checked his log-book at Kew, but the last entry is on 3rd August 1940, as Nic says.

    I don't anything more about this case, apart that Westland Lysander R2625 was apparently coded C . But I've no certainty about the plane he was flying that fateful night.

    Nic, did you check 419 Flight ORB, or other documents relating to CLS, Ringway or Northweald ? Thanks for the name of the passenger, which I didn't have.

    Henk, I have the body washed ashore on 23rd August 1940.

    Joss

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    The more I read this, and taking into account what is written in Flights of Forgotten (especially as Merrick says 419 Flt formed at North Weald, on 21st August 1940 - but Lysanders R2625 and R2626 arrived 10 August 1940) - and they were still around when 138 San formed in 1941). I think the overwhelming evidence points to Couglan being on N1203 especially as he was posted to Ringway and that was where N1203 was based with the Parachute Practice Flt

    Aircraft of the Few says R2625 with 138 San as well

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    I have vague information of special duty operations performed as early as September 1939, so I would expect there were other units doing the job before formation of 419 Flight. I understand the latter was formed primarily in view of Poland operations, but later evolved into more flexible unit.

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    Does Wynn in MoBoB have anything on the loss of COGHLAN ? He is listed as qualifying - Also he had a couple of Claims at Dunkirk - Though Fighter Command Air Combat Claims, 1939-40 has him listed as J R COGHLAN rather than J H COGHLAN - I wonder if he is in 'Those other Eagles'

    Paul

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    Interesting posting

    Looks like the Lysander landed at Manston before leaving for Europe


    http://www.pnc.com.au/~insight/heavens/heavens-009.html

    "The station was spared from attack on the 17th August, so we made good progress with the repairs. At the end of the day, I walked to the nearby communication hut to telephone our progress to the squadron at North Weald. I had just completed the call, when a Lysander landed nearby and taxied up to the hut. The engine was switched off and two figures emerged and came towards us. A stocky figure in white flying overalls was followed by a smallish man wearing a brown leather jacket and black beret. It was F/L Coghlan, DFC. and his passenger who was a Frenchman. We were both pleasantly surprised to see each other, for we had had little contact since his transfer to A Flight and none since his posting from 56. He introduced me to his passenger, who said little, and then inevitably the question arose, 'What are you doing here'? From his guarded remarks, it was clear that he was going to drop his passenger into France who, it was equally clear, was an agent. While they had a cup of coffee we chatted pleasantly, then as twilight turned to darkness, he said it was time to go. I walked outside with them, shook hands and wished them 'Good luck'. They took off in the gathering darkness and headed towards France; it was the last I saw of Slim Coghlan; indeed mine was the last friendly face that he saw. For, I later learned that on landing, on this his first clandestine mission, he and the Frenchman were captured and shot. A brutal end to a brave man. "

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    Bingo!
    ORBs for Ringway, North Weald, 56 Sqn, 138 Sqn already trawled. Almost certain that no ORB for 419/1419 Fllght ever existed.

    Re Lysander N1203, I would really like to be able to nail that N1203 was one of the aircraft alloted to the 'Parachute Practice Unit' (which never really existed); and that N1203 was reported lost on 18/8/40. Henk, can you please let me know the provenance of this information?

    Nick L

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    Henk also touches on the crucial point that I hope to resolve next week through an archive in Brussels: did Coghlan crash on the way out, or on the way back? Did Leenaerts survive, or was he captured & executed?

    Also, the date of recovery for Coghlan: 23 August or 23 September?

    Nick L

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    Quote Originally Posted by deadrock View Post
    Bingo!
    ORBs for Ringway, North Weald, 56 Sqn, 138 Sqn already trawled. Almost certain that no ORB for 419/1419 Fllght ever existed.

    Re Lysander N1203, I would really like to be able to nail that N1203 was one of the aircraft alloted to the 'Parachute Practice Unit' (which never really existed); and that N1203 was reported lost on 18/8/40. Henk, can you please let me know the provenance of this information?

    Nick L

    According to RAF Training and Support Units from Air Britain it was the Parachute Training Centre (IIRC) at Ringway in 1940

    Air Britain 'N' Serials has N1203 allocated "missing 18-8-1940" - but I do not remember what unit it said is was allocated to at the time - but I do believe the above

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