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Thread: looking for info on a Sub-Lt Cope of 788 Sqn

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    Default looking for info on a Sub-Lt Cope of 788 Sqn

    I am looking for further any further info which might be available on a Sub-Lt Cope, who was aboard one of the six Swordfish of 788 NAS which were shot down by Zeros during the 5 April 1942 attack on Colombo. His pilot was Sub-Lt C.T. Shaw, and their Swordfish was possibly V4398. Cope was reportedly an observer but during this flight he is said to have acted at the TAG. (Shaw and Cope were the only people on the plane.) Cope's initials have been given as I.E. in one source and J.E. in another. He was not killed, so he is not listed on the Commonwealth War Grave Commission site. He ought to be in The Navy List, but I can't find any I.E. Cope or any J.E. Cope in the last edition produced before the attack on Colombo nor the first one produced after it. Would anyone happen to have his full name or any other details concerning him?

    TIA

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    Default Re: looking for info on a Sub-Lt Cope of 788 Sqn

    Hello,

    Try Geoffrey H. COPE in the Navy List. Can't access my ref just at the moment, but will get back to you shortly. Found It!

    Norman Lauchlan was still serving with No.814 during this period: 'In December 1940 we were back at Young's Field, where we collected three more TAGs, Kenward, Johnny Jukes and King. Then to Mombasa and up the Somaliland coast, in support of the South African Army Raider patrols in the Indian Ocean, then to the Persian Gulf, maintaining ashore in Iraq a constant force of six aircraft for raids and convoy patrols. Geoffrey Cope force-landed in enemy country and another Swordfish - Pop Lasson was the TAG - landed, picked up Geoffrey and his pilot and observer and took off, for which Pop got a mention as he kept the hostile Arabs off with his gun. His pilot got the DSC.
    'In November 1941 we were put ashore in Ceylon while the ship returned to Simonstown dockyard. At Ratmalana we had sixteen TAGs for twelve aircraft. While we were there, Darky Holroyd went into the drink, about forty miles off Colombo, and was picked up by an American freighter - returning to Ratmalana in a gorgeous pair of red and white striped trunks.
    'Hermes' returned to Simonstown and we sailed for Fremantle. After three days we were turned around and headed back to Trincomalee. Geoff Cope added a bar to his 'Goldfish' when his aircraft went over the side while landing-on with two depth charges.Both charges exploded and blew the aircraft to the surface*. The crew made it to their dinghy - unhurt. Then came the famous sortie into the Bay of Bengal with the Eastern Fleet. Having failed to find the Japanese - how lucky can you get? - the Eastern Fleet returned to Mombasa, "Hermes' returned to "Trinco" and 814 were put ashore at China bay, where we were joined by Jock Heath and Steve Damrell. Survivor of the 'Repulse'. Jock had been loaned to a Swordfish squadron in Singapore and shot down. Loaned again, to a RAF Catalina squadron, he was again shot down, in flames, this time he escaped to Australia. Jock, with Hall, Le Croir, Sking-ley [sic] and three others , was sent as a splinter group of the squadron to provide a striking force at Colombo. On the way they ran into a Jap raid and all were shot down by Zeros. Hall and Skingley were killed and the rest ended up in hospital - Jock's once-black beard now streaked with white.

    *
    Late 1941/?early 1942 - Swordfish ? - 814 Sqn 'Hermes'. Went over the side with two DCs which exploded, blowing a/c to surface (crew, including TAG G. H. Hope, swam to dinghy unhurt).

    See:
    The Swordfish Story.
    Sturtivant,Ray.
    London:Arms and Armour Press,1993.
    pp.115-6 & 180.

    PS. Bloody Shambles/Shores et al/Vol.2./pp.395-7 (Sub-Lt I. E. Cope), and https://www.naval-history.net/xDKWW2-4204-44APR-DEC.htm (Sub-Lt J. E. Cope) doesn't help matters!

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 18th April 2021 at 04:37.

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    Default Re: looking for info on a Sub-Lt Cope of 788 Sqn

    Col,

    Thanks for this very helpful info.

    There is no Geoffrey H. Cope in the Navy List, but the account you cite indicates that he was not an observer acting as a TAG but was in fact an actual TAG, for example when it says that "Geoffrey and his pilot and observer" were picked up by another Swordfish. The Navy List lists officers. Ratings are not included, and an actual TAG would have been a rating. The TAGs in the other five Swordfish included two petty officers (Heath and Hall), two leading airmen (Edwards and Bolton) and one airman mechanic first class (Skingley). Cope and Heath survived but the other four were all KIA. Would you happen to know what Cope's rank/rating would have been in April 1942?

    Cheers,

    Rob

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