Although a wireless operator/air gunner Hank Cooper was destined to fly in Mosquitos. Prior to the war Hank Cooper was working on secret transmission systems at RAF Mildenhall. Within a few weeks of the outbreak of war he was called up and after completing training as a wireless operator/air gunner was posted to 149 Squadron who were operating Wellingtons from Mildenhall. Between January 1941 and July 1941 he flew 32 bombing raids attacking numerous cities including Berlin. By the end of this period he and one other were the only survivors from his original crew of six. He became an instructor at an OTU and whilst with the OTU took part on the first thousand bomber raid held on 30th May 1942.
In November 1943 Hank Cooper joined 192 Squadron who were based at Foulsham, Norfolk and operated specially equipped Wellingtons and Halifaxes. 192 Squadron were part of No 100 (Special Duties) Group which had been formed to provide radio countermeasures to confound German night fighters and air defence systems in an attempt to reduce the RAF’s heavy bomber losses. The machines of 100 Group flew with the main bomber force. Cooper had the task of gathering signals intelligence on German radar and radio transmissions. After ten of these flight Hank Cooper started to fly in Mosquitos and whilst not trained as a navigator went on to complete many long range operations over Germany. The data he collected allowed the RAF night fighters to identify and home in on enemy aircraft and destroy them before they could attack the RAF heavy bombers.
Having completed his tour with 192 Squadron and been awarded the DFC, Hank Cooper spent sometime in the air intelligence branch at the Air Ministry before, in November 1944, returning to 192 Squadron where he flew another 35 operational flights. On this flights he would travel with the attacking bomber force and once over the target switch on special transmitters carried in the bomb bay of his Mosquito to jam enemy radio transmissions and the radar of the enemy’s night fighters. His last flight with 192 Squadron took place on the 24th April 1945, it was his hundredth operation over Germany. Shortly afterwards he was awarded the DSO.
Winston Churchill commented that knowledge of German night defences was largely obtained through the work of No 100 Group. There is no doubt that the work of 100 Group was crucial to the success of the Allied bomber offensive.
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