Thursday, 14 November 2013

13/11/13 :: A day well spent...

Months ago, at Flying Legends, I'd spotted a full size replica Spitfire on display on the hangar base outside Wing Co Joe's. There was a crowd around the aircraft and I didn't have the time to stop and chat with the 'crew', so headed out to do my duty on the flightline.

On getting home I Googled the replica and discovered it was a wonderful piece of work built by Terry Arlow -

One thing led to another and I discovered that I had viewed the gun camera film of the pilot of MK805, F/Lt Tony Cooper of 64 Sqdn.

So, today I had the pleasure of spending a few hours in the company of a real gentleman and handing over a DVD 'compilation' of his gun camera footage from May through to August 1944. 

I was able to look at his Log Books, and in what can only be described as an extraordinary coincidence, I looked at a photograph of F/Lt Cooper, sat in front of a Spitfire, with several other pilots at 53 OTU Kirton-in-Lindsay in February 1945. Sat next to Tony was a S/Ldr Niven (OC) - I peered at the photograph and recognised the face. A quick check of the Log Book of John Niven on my laptop, revealed it was indeed the one and the same.

To be able to sit down and actually talk with one of the pilots, whose footage was some of that which I have been watching over the last seven years, was a real privilege and honour.

I hope to be able to spend some more time with Tony and maybe even find yet more footage of his time in action...


  1. Fascinating Stuff Bob, must make it seem all the more worthwhile. How do these guys feel seeing their own footage all those years later. Must be a bit surreal in some ways.

  2. It certainly feels like the highlight of the project for me. He had a lot of mixed emotions watching it back for the first time in 70 years. Names of pilots he flew with and who didn't make it through the war etc., it was quite understandable...
    He was full of great stories and it was a real honour to sit and watch it with him. The coincidence of finding the photo of him sat next to John Niven is still hard to get my head around!

    As a slight aside I managed to track down some of AB910 here at Duxford that John Niven flew briefly while OC 53 OTU.

  3. Life throws the odd curve ball from time to time!
    Keep digging Bob, it makes a great read :-)