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Cochrane, Alfred William Gordon

    Date of birth:
    October 10th, 1916 (Rawene/Northland, New Zealand)
    Date of death:
    October 29th, 1994 (Wimborne Minster/Dorset, Great Britain)
    Service number:
    NZ.403429
    Nationality:
    New Zealander (1907-1947, Dominion UK)

    Biography

    After leaving school, Alfred Cochrane worked in his uncle's general store before enlisting in September 1940 in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. By November 1941, he was flying Wellington bombers with 156 Squadron and would complete 33 operations including the three thousand-bomber raids of Cologne.
    After attending an instructors' school, he spent the next 18 months as an instructor and was then posted to No. 156 Squadron, beginning operations again in June 1944. Over the next 11 months he flew two tours for a total of 55 operations on Lancasters and was frequently the master bomber, directing the markers and main force as he circled the target.
    Cochrane ended the war as an acclaimed pathfinder captain, with 3 tours and 88 operations behind him. He was one among the most highly decorated New Zealander bomber pilots.
    Cochrane remained in the RNZAF unitil 9 april 1947 and subsequently joined BOAC, the forerunner of British Airways. He retired at the end of 1971 as a senior captain and 25 years service.

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    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Pilot Officer
    Unit:
    150 Squadron RNZAF
    Awarded on:
    August 11th, 1942
    Cittion:
    This officer is employed as captain of aircraft.
    Throughout he has completed his attacks with skill, courage and determination. On one occasion in March, 1942, his aircraft would not climb above 1,000 feet. Despite strong enemy opposition and the presence of balloons P/O. Cochrane, with great resolution, flew on and successfully bombed his objective at Essen. His aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire. His high devotion to duty is shown by the completion of six successful night sorties between 30th March and 7th June. 1942. His fearlessness in the face of danger has inspired a high standard of morale in his crew. P/O. Cochrane has attacked many important enemy targets, including Brest, Cologne, Bremen and Hamburg."
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Acting Squadron Leader
    Unit:
    156 Squadron RNZAF
    Awarded on:
    January 2nd, 1945
    Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
    Citation:
    "This officer has displayed the highest standard of skill and courage in operations against the enemy. He has completed a very large number of sorties, involving attacks on a wide range of enemy targets and throughout has displayed outstanding determination and devotion to duty.
    On a recent occasion, Squadron Leader Cochrane participated in an attack on the airfield at Eindhoven. His accurate and determined bombing in the face of concentrated anti-aircraft fire set a very fine example. His achievements have won great praise."
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Acting Squadron Leader
    Unit:
    156 Squadron RNZAF
    Awarded on:
    February 16th, 1945
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
    Citation:
    "Squadron Leader Cochrane is a cool and courageous captain and pilot, whose fine qualities of leadership and determination have been weel illustrated in many operations agains the enemy.
    In December, 1944, Squadron Leader Cochrane participated in an attack on the airfield at Dusseldorf. In spite of intense and accurate fire from the ground defences, Squadron Leader Cochrane pressed home his attack with his usual skill. His aircraft was hit but he flew it back to base.His devotion to duty has been unfailing."

    Second DFC awarded as a bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC.
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Acting Squadron Leader
    Unit:
    156 Squadron RNZAF
    Awarded on:
    March 27th, 1945
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
    Citation:
    "One night in February 1945, Squadron Leader Cochrane, as captain of aircraft was detailed to attack enemy troop concentrations in Goch. Soon after reaching the target the port wing of his aircraft sustained severe damage and part of it fell off. Undeterred, Squadron Leader Cochrane, with superb airmanship and courage, continued with his task.
    This officer has set a magnificent example of fearlessness. His tenacity of purpose and cheerfulness have been an inspiration to his squadron."

    Third DFC awarded as second bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC.

    Sources

    • - Second Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 35661 published on the 7 August 1942
      - Eighth Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 36873 published on the 29 December 1944
      - Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 36942 published on the 13 February 1945
      - Third Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 37001 published on the 23 March 1945
      - 156 Squadron
      - The Pro Patria Project
      - Flight Global - Archive
      - Rootsweb

    Photo