The Airmen's Stories - Sub/Lt.(FAA) R J Cork
Richard John Cork was born in London on 4th April 1917 and attended the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. He was awarded his pilot’s wings on 20th January 1940 and joined the Fleet Air Arm.
The RAF being very short of pilots after the losses in France, Cork was one of the FAA airmen loaned to the RAF, in his case on 15th June 1940. After converting to Spitfires at 7 OTU Hawarden he joined 242 Squadron at Coltishall on 1st July, though they were equipped with Hurricanes.
He claimed a Me110 destroyed and a He111 damaged on 30th August, a Do17 and a Me110 on 7th September and two Do17s destroyed and three Me109s damaged on the 15th.
Cork was awarded the DFC (gazetted 18th October 1940) but this was later converted to the DSC by the Admiralty.
On 23rd November 1940 Cork was posted to 252 Squadron, Coastal Command but soon afterwards he went back to the FAA and joined 880 Squadron in HMS 'Indomitable', operating in the Mediterranean.
Cork served on the carrier in the operation in the Indian Ocean to intercept the Japanese invasion force heading for Ceylon.
In early May 1942 he took part in the attack on Vichy French forces in Madagascar, prior to its occupation by a British force forestalling a Japanese invasion. In attacks on Diego Suarez airfield Cork destroyed three Morane 406s and three Potez 63s on the ground.
He was still serving on the carrier during Operation 'Pedestal', the re-supply of Malta in August 1942.
On the 11th Cork shared the destruction of a Ju88. The following day he shot down a Ju88, shared another and destroyed a Me110 and two SM79s in four sorties. He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 10th November 1942).
In 1944 Cork was appointed Wing Leader of 15 Fighter Wing, made up of two Corsair squadrons operating from HMS 'Illustrious'.
On 14th April 1944 he was killed in a flying accident at China Bay airfield, Trincomalee. During night flying governed by light signals in the absence of radio communications he crashed into another aircraft which was on the runway about to take off.
Cork is buried in the cemetery at Trincomalee.
Above cemetery images courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project
There is a biography - ‘Naval Fighter Pilot’ by AH Wren ISBN 0 9532250 0 3