The Airmen's Stories - F/O J R Cock
John Reynolds Cock was born in Renmark, South Australia on 3rd March 1918 and educated at Renmark High School, Prince Alfred College, Adelaide and Roseworth Agricultural College. He learned to fly privately then went to England in early 1938 and joined the RAF on a short service commission in March.
In early 1939 Cock was posted to 87 Squadron at Debden and went to France with the squadron at the outbreak of war. On 14th April 1940 Cock attacked a He111 off Le Touquet but it escaped.
On 10th May he claimed a Ju88 destroyed and a Do17 and a Me110 damaged, on the 12th a He111 destroyed, a Me109 on the 14th, possibly a Ju88 on the 16th, a Ju87 destroyed and another damaged on the 18th and a Hs126 shared on the 19th.
The squadron was withdrawn to Debden on the 22nd, moving to Church Fenton a few days later to refit. On 5th July 1940 87 Squadron moved to Exeter.
Soon after midnight on the 26th Cock shot down a He111 which crashed at Smeathorpe, near Honiton.
On 11th August he shot down a Ju88 and a Me109 and probably shot down a Me110 and another Ju88. In this engagement Cock's Hurricane, V7233, was hit by a Me109 and he baled out, slightly wounded. He landed in the sea off Portland Bill, swam ashore at Chesil Beach and was admitted to Portway hospital. He was transferred to the RAF Hospital at Torquay.
Above: a report on the 11th incident, highlighting the difficulty Cock had in baling out.
Cock rejoined 87 Squadron on 11th September 1940. On the 26th he claimed a Ju88 destroyed and a Me109 damaged, on the 30th a Ju88 destroyed and probably a Me109 and on 10th October he claimed another probable Me109.
After his engine cut out on patrol on 24th October Cock was unable to avoid colliding with P/O DT Jay. Cock managed to make a forced-landing (below) but Jay was killed while attempting to bale out.
Awarded the DFC (gazetted 25th October 1940) Cock was posted away from 87 to an instructors course at the end of 1940. In September 1941 he was instructing at 9 FTS Hullavington. On 15th July 1942 Cock was posted to 453 Squadron, recently reformed at Drem, as a Flight Commander.
Cock left the squadron on 30th August for a course as a pilot gunnery instructor. After a short attachment to 222 Squadron at Ayr in November he returned to Australia, where he was attached to the Spitfire Wing at Darwin as a supernumerary. Cock later went to the Gunnery School at Mildura and lectured at various units.
In April 1944 he returned to the UK and did a tour with 3 Squadron in France, flying Tempests, after which he went back to England.
Cock was released from the RAF in February 1948 as a Squadron Leader. He returned to the UK to be present when the wreckage of Hurricane V7233, in which he had been shot down on 11th August 1940, was salvaged from the sea on 30th August 1983.
Cock died in Australia on 20th August 1988.