Twenty-five-year-old Flight Sergeant Eric Cooke from Grimsby came to Perth when war broke out to train at RAF Perth 11 EFTS. Cooke was employed in the Admiralty chart department when war broke out. On 26 July 1941, he married Daphne May Ferris, 8 Stanley Place, Perth. Daphne and her twin sister Betty joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service at the age of 17 when war broke out. After many hours of flying over enemy territory as an air gunner, Cooke became an instructor at the RAF Central Gunnery School at RAF Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire.
On 10 April 1943, Vickers Wellington Mk Ia N2865 took off from the Central Gunnery School, detailed to carry out an exercise with a Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIa P7677 doing various quarter attacks. During the exercise (at 1035 hours), the two aircraft collided just south west of Wyton, near Huntingdon, Cheshire.
All six crew on board Wellington N2865 were killed:
Flight Lieutenant Terence Cathcart Stanbury RAF (42271) pilot, age 30
Flying Officer Reginald Ross Hely RAAF (403811) 2nd pilot, age 22
Flight Sergeant Eric Cooke RAFVR (742967) air gunner instructor, age 25
Flying Officer John Alfred Town RCAF (J16172) air gunner, age 25
Flight Sergeant Clifford Harrison RAAF (1000251) air gunner, age 28
Sergeant Charles Ronald Archer RAFVR (1113141) air gunner, age 40
The pilot of the Spitfire P7677, Pilot Officer E H Griffith, baled out with minor injuries.
Cooke was buried at Grimsby (Scatho Road) Cemetery with full military honours. Exactly one week before he died, Cooke was home in Lincolnshire after having a spell of leave in Perth with his wife.
Griffith died a few months later – 29 September 1943 – when his Mosquito Mk.II DZ690 spun and crashed after a high-speed stall during which the engine detached.
Eric Cooke, Perthshire Advertiser 17 April 1943
CENTRAL GUNNERY SCHOOL (CH 17039) Original wartime caption: Description – A Dexter arm embowed in armour holding in the hand a bow and arrow. Motto ‘I HOLD MY AIM’ Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205455986