Arthur Clarence Cockcroft
Date of birth: 30.04.1923
Date of death: 22.04.1945
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Family information: Son of George Horace Cockcroft and Ethel (nee Huddlestone)
Rank: Flying Officer
Service number: 185326
Flying officer (Pilot) Arthur Clarence Cockcroft was serving with 153 Squadron RAFVR when he died on 22nd April 1945, just 8 days short of his 22nd birthday.
On Sunday 22nd April 1945, 153 Squadron were briefed to attack the city of Bremen. 15 aircraft and crew from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire were detailed to assist this operation, carried out in daylight which had by now become normal. Instructions were given to avoid any risk of bombing our own troops in the area. The squadron flew in a ‘loose-gaggle’, a term for a number of aircraft flying at the same height in the same direction, though not in formation. On the way to the target his plane was hit by an anti-aircraft shell and came apart, the severed rear end fell turning all over, whilst the front portion fell in a flat spin, and crashed into the waters of Jadebussen (Jade Bay). Crews of other aircraft watched in horror as the crew were killed instantly. The plane was Lancaster NE424 (P4 -2nd N).
The irony is that when they reached the target of Bremen the operation was abandoned due to poor visibility, with low cloud, coupled with dust and smoke from the preceding first wave of attack.
Flying Officer (Cocky) Cockcroft and his crew had gained a reputation for repeatedly being the first to return to base after an operation.
Arthur Cockcroft was buried at Becklingen War Cemetery, Soltau, Neidersachsen, Germany Plot 14 Row F Grave 4.
The site of Becklingen war Cemetery was chosen for its position on a hillside overlooking Luneburg Heath. Luneburg Heath was where, on 4th May 1945, Field-Marshal Montgomery accepted the German surrender from Admiral Doenitz. Burials were brought into the cemetery from isolated sites in the countryside, small German cemeteries and prisoner of war camps cemeteries, within a radius of about 80 kilometres. Most of those buried in the cemetery died during the last two months of the war.
Arthur Clarence Cockcroft was born on 30th April 1923 and baptised on 6th June 1923 at Christ Church, Knottingley. He was the son of George Horace Cockcroft, a plumber and Ethel (nee Huddleston) who had married at the same church on 14th December 1921. Arthur appears to have been named after his uncle Arthur Clarence Cockcroft, a Second Lieutenant in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who was killed on 1st July 1916 during World War One.