Wartime Heritage ASSOCIATION
Name: Charles Owen Cook Rank: Warrant Officer Class II Service No: R/76061 Service: Royal Canadian Air Force 69 (RAF) Squadron Date of Birth: September 11, 1915 Place of Birth: Waterville, NS Date of Enlistment: October 12, 1940 Place of Enlistment: Halifax, NS Address At Enlistment: Waterville, NS Age at Enlistment: 25 years Height: 5 feet, 8 inches Complexion: fair Eyes: hazel Hair: light brown Trade: Labourer (carpentry at enlistment) Marital Status: Single Religion: Baptist Next of Kin: Stanley Black Cook (Father) Waterville, NS Date of Death: February 18, 1943 Age At Death: 27 Memorial: Malta Memorial Grave Reference: Panel 10, Column 2 Commemorated on Page 148 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance Displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on March 28 Charles Cook was the son of Stanley Black Cook (1879-1952) and Mamie Effie (Hutt) Cook (1891-1955) of Waterville, Nova Scotia. Charles was the second born of three children. His brother, Claude McDowell Cook also served during WWII with the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps at Yarmouth, NS. As a boy, Charles attended school, completing grade 10 in Waterville and completed one year at summer school at Acadia University and one year at Horton Academy of Acadia University (1936- 1937). Charles first applied to the RCAF in August 1939; however was not called to service until October 10, 1940. During that time he travelled the 135 miles to the recruiting station on five occasions to enquire about his application. He played right wing for the Horton Academy hockey team and played baseball and tennis and enjoyed hunting and fishing, the latter two being his favourite sports. He also enjoyed movies, dancing and working with carpentry tools and “fooling around an old car”. Charles was also a Boy Scout for five years. While at school he worked during the summer vacations in a canning factory to earn spending money. Following his education, he was employed as an express and baggage clerk with the Dominion Atlantic Railway at Hantport, NS until October of 1938. He was injured in a car accident in October and on recovery he worked as a clerk in a general store in Waterville, from January 1939 until June 1940 . In July of 1940 he began working for the National Defence at Debert, NS as a carpenter until his enlistment. On enlistment he trained as a wireless operator/air gunner and served in Canada until September of 1941 receiving his air gunner badge on August 4, 1941. He proceeded overseas to England and was assigned to No. 1 Signal School. He was then assigned to 69 RAF Squadron, a reconnaissance squadron, based at RAF Luqua in Malta. From May of 1942 Baltimore aircraft were used as a supplement to Spitfires for shipping reconnaissance and anti-submarine patrols. On February 18, Charles was the wireless/air gunner on Baltimore II AG 816 that took-off at 10:00 am and failed to return to base from a sea patrol operation. The crew were: Robert Nash (136621) Pilot of Nyasaland, aged 22; John Stephen Milne (136052) Observer of Blackheath, London, aged 22; James Leslie Joseph Conway (R/56368) Wireless/Air Gunner of Outremont, Quebec, aged 24; and Charles Owen Cook (R/76061) Wireless/Air Gunner. All were reported missing. In August, 1943 a newspaper article in the Halifax Herald provided some hope for the parents of Charles and his mother wrote to the Department of National Defence enclosing the clipping. His mother wrote in her letter: “ … As you know we all have pet sayings and Charles’ favourite one has always been ‘keep your chin up’. I feel he has had that phase included so that I would know it was him …” The RCAF Casualty Section, DND, made enquires; however, a search of records failed to find any trace of a Leonard J. Bashill in the RCAF and enquiries overseas replied that Charles has not been reported as a prisoner of war and it was not felt likely Charles was a prisoner of war in Japan as he was reported missing after an air operation from Malta. It was not until July of 1949 that additional news was received by the family. The Missing Research and Enquiry Service advised that a grave was discovered at Gioiosa Marea on the northern coast of Sicily that contained the body of Pilot Officer Nash that was recovered from the sea. No trace could be found of the other three crew members and in view of the fact that the body of Pilot Officer Nash was recovered from the sea it must be assumed that they perished at sea and have no known graves. The pilot was reburied in Catania British Empire Cemetery and the other thee members of the crew were listed on the Malta Memorial. Sources and Information: Veterans Affairs Canada
Charles Owen Cook
Remembering World War II
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