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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R N COOPER


Roy Norman Cooper, of Portsmouth, was born on 2nd December 1915 and was working on the family farm when he joined the RAFVR on 25th August 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot.

Called up on 1st September, he was posted to 3 ITW Hastings before going on to commence flying training at 16 EFTS Derby on 11th April 1940. This continued at 6 SFTS Little Rissington where he arrived on 16th June 1940.




The course ended on 14th September 1940 and he went to 7 OTU Hawarden a week later on the 21st. After converting to Spitfires he was posted to 610 Squadron at Acklington on 6th October 1940.

He moved to 65 Squadron at Turnhouse on the 11th. The squadron deployed to Leuchars on 8th November 1940 and then Tangmere on 29th November.

Cooper was posted to 91 Squadron at Hawkinge on 4th February 1941 and was heavily engaged on cross-Channel sweeps until 28th October that year when he is recorded as going to Hendon, presumably as a first introduction to his new role as instructor. This was followed by a course at CFS Upavon from 15th November 1941 to 14th January 1942.


Above: 91 Squadron, the caption was unclear but is believed to be F/O P Barthropp in cockpit, F/Lt. RAL Knight next along fuselage, then Cooper with Sgt. J Gillies behind him.

F/O MC Kinder (NZ) without Mae West, Taylor (?) sitting on wing root, P/O J LeRoux standing against wing and Sgt. FS Perkin at far right.





Above: Cooper standing far right, date and location unknown.


He then served at 9 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit Hullavington from 15th January 1942 to 21st March 1942, RAF College Cranwell 22nd March 1942 to 28th December 1943 before going to 2 PDC Morecambe to prepare for overseas posting.

He boarded the MV Stirling Castle on 17th January 1944 and arrived at 5 Aircrew Reception Centre, Heliopolis, Egypt on 31st January.

From there he was posted to 1330 Conversion Unit at Bilbeis, NE of Cairo where he instructed, probably on Ansons, Oxfords and Hudsons.

Now a Warrant Officer, he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 8th July 1944.

Either from Egypt or Italy Cooper must have gone on leave to Athens (not liberated until 12th October 1944) where he is seated at left, and Palestine as while there he completed a pilgrimage in Jerusalem, photographs below.






Cooper was then posted to Jesi, near Ancona in Italy, to serve with 4 Ferry Unit from 8th November 1944 to 26th April 1945.


Above: while in Italy Cooper (at left) visited Rome and bumped into his brother George, serving in a Guards regiment.


To prepare for demobilisation he was sent back to Egypt, to 22 Personnel Transit Centre at Almaza.

Warned that the process would involve considerable delays, he volunteered to serve on the Anti-Locust Flight on the Kenya/Uganda border. The Flight, equipped with Ansons, operated from Nairobi, Kisumu and Nakuru.




Above: a Flight Anson and personnel and (below) their unofficial badge.



Below: photos presumably taken in Kenya/Uganda.






Above and below: the modus operandi of the Flight.


23.5.44 - No.8


Experiments which may revolutionise the war against locusts are now being carried out in Kenya. The chief weapons of the new experiments are five Anson aircraft belonging to the R.A.F. Anti-Locust Flight, and a contact poison powder called D.N.O.C. (dinitro-ortho-cresol).

The five Ansons are not setting out to annihilate Kenya's locusts, but to gather as much data as possible with a view to testing the possible value of this new method for large-scale use in the future.

The method which is being used is that of dusting the winged insects immediately after dawn before they have decided to fly. It has been found impracticable to attack locusts in flight as the pilot's view is obliterated by a locust-covered windscreen and the engines quickly become clogged with dead bodies. The resting swarms have to be located by ground scouts provided by the African Auxiliary Pioneer Corps (East Africa) as it has been found difficult to locate them from the air owing to their natural camouflage.

On finding a swarm, the scouts send back a message to the Flight's ground party, which goes out, estimated the size of the swarm, marks it and sends the information back by wireless to the aerodrome.

At dawn the aircraft, loaded with special containers of D.N.O.C., take off and, guided by radio-telephony, swoop down and discharge the powder along marked lanes. It is no easy operation as the aircraft, flying at about 120m.p.h., have to be kept at an altitude of not more than 15-feet in order that the dusting may be successful. Powder released at higher altitudes tends to be blown away and the locusts escape its effect.

As a result of previous tests, it has been found that a Flight of five aircraft can dust an area of one square mile in just over two hours. The new poison dust is not dangerous to human beings or to animals if precautions are taken by the personnel.

After the experiment, numbers of dusted locusts are placed in cages and kept under observation. Full records are made of percentages of destruction and escapes and the dusting concentrations increased or reduced accordingly.





Unfortunately while there Cooper contracted typhoid from contaminated water and died on 28th October 1945.

He is buried in Jinja War Cemetery, Uganda.



Above and below: his grave in 1945 and today.



Additional research and all images courtesy of Wendy Anderson (daughter).




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