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The Airmen's Stories - F/O T P M Cooper-Slipper

 

Thomas Paul Michael Cooper-Slipper was born on 11th January 1921 at Kinver, Staffordshire, a grandson of the vicar. He was educated at King Edward VI School at Stourbridge and was a candidate for an RAF short service commission after leaving school in September 1938.

He began his initial flying training at 12 E&RFTS Prestwick on 31st October. Cooper-Slipper went to No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge for a short induction course on 14th January 1939 and on the 28th was posted to 9 FTS Hullavington.

 

 

After completing his flying training he went to No. 5 Armament Training Station Penrhos on 4th September 1939 and joined 74 Squadron on the 7th. Cooper-Slipper was detached from 74 on 19th September to 11 Group Pool St. Athan for further training. He rejoined 74 on 24th October 1939. He was posted to 2 Ferry Pilot Pool Filton on 11th December and served with it until 9th March 1940 when he went to 605 Squadron at Wick.

On 21st May 1940 the squadron went south to Hawkinge. On the 22nd Cooper-Slipper shared a He111, on the 25th he destroyed a Ju87 over Arras and on the 26th a Ju88 near Dunkirk.

The squadron had suffered heavy losses and was sent up to Drem to reorganise. It was there until 7th September when it moved to Croydon.

 

 

On the 8th Cooper-Slipper destroyed a Me109 and damaged a Do17, on the 11th he damaged a He111, on the 12th shared a Do17 and on the 15th he destroyed a Do17 by ramming. His aircraft had been hit by return fire during the attack on German bombers. He lost control and collided amidships with the Do17 over Marden, losing his own port wing.


Cooper-Slipper baled out and was slightly injured landing at Church Farm, Marden. His Hurricane, L2012, crashed at The Leas, Yalding. On 27th September he damaged a Me109.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 26th November 1940).

On 13th November 1940 he was posted away to CFS Upavon for an instructors course. In February 1941 he was posted to a Naval Flying School as an instructor and in July he went to 60 OTU East Fortune.


In September 1941 Cooper-Slipper was posted to 96 Squadron at Cranage as a Flight Commander. He moved to 74 Squadron at Acklington in October and in November joined 135 Squadron, then preparing to go to Burma.


When the squadron reached Singapore, Cooper-Slipper and several other pilots were held back to fly with 232 Squadron against the Japanese. On 22nd January 1942 he destroyed two G3M 'Nell' bombers.


After a few days in hospital, he flew a number of sorties, during which he probably destroyed three more Japanese bombers. When Singapore fell Cooper-Slipper escaped to Palembang.

During the Japanese parachute landings on Palembang, Cooper-Slipper was captured - but he managed to slip away during the night and reach Java.


While he was attempting to reach the last British port, Batavia, in a truck, the vehicle hit a landmine and Cooper-Slipper was severely wounded. He was evacuated to Ceylon in a hospital ship and on to Bombay.


He spent six months in hospital in Poona and Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Fit again, he was posted to the Middle East as Chief Test Pilot at 103 MU at RAF Aboukir and CO of the Special Performance Spitfire Flight.


This entailed local development of the Spitfire for PR work, low-altitude high speed tactical reconaissance for 40 (SAAF) Squadron, high-altitude interception of Ju88 photographic aircraft and latterly Ju188s at high speed at 30,000 feet. Cooper-Slipper had two combats, at 44,100 feet and 30,000 feet, damaging a Ju188.

Later limited to flying at low level as a result of problems caused by his earlier injuries, he flew Dakota transport aircraft with 267 Squadron, before returning to England at the end of 1944 to be the chief test pilot at RAF Lichfield.

He was released from the RAF in mid-1946, emigrated to Canada in 1947 and became a Test Pilot with Avro Canada in 1948.


In 1949 Cooper-Slipper was Captain on development of the Avro Jet Liner, in 1950 Captain of the Orenda Lancaster and he started flying the Orenda-engined F-86 Sabre, in 1951 he started flying the CF-100 fighter and in 1955 was made Chief Test Pilot of Orenda Engines.


In 1957 Cooper-Slipper completed the USAF Commanders Course on B-47 aircraft and then did several hundred hours development flying of the Iroquois engine on a B-47 loaned to the RCAF. Cooper-Slipper finished his flying career in 1959.

 

Above: Cooper-Slipper on the ladder of a B-47.

 

 

He embarked on a career in aviation sales, first with de Havilland and then with Field Aviation. He went on to work for the Ontario Ministry of Industry and Trade, travelling extensively to promote Ontario's aviation manufacturing capabilities.


In 1986 Cooper-Slipper retired to Victoria, British Columbia, where he pursued his love of photography and his interest in aviation history.


He died in Canada on 23rd February 2004.

 

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