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459 RAAF Squadron
Sgt John Edward Cosgrove Fitter IIE
Naval Co-operation Group - Middle East 1942-45
Service Number 32514
An Australian trained fitter IIE John Cosgrove enlisted early in 1940 to help the beleaguered RAF, seriously under-strength in the UK and the Middle East. He said with the famous "Yellow Draft" in 1941, for Egypt. John served initially with an RAF Wellington Squadron in Egypt before linking with other RAAF technically trained personnel including his Squadron and lifelong fellow technician, Tom ("Gunner") Gaunt to help form and work up to operational standards 459 RAAF Hudson Squadron in February 1942.
History of course records how that Squadron commanded in turn by the "Three H's" - Hennock, Howson and Henderson - made its Coastal Command night-search-and-strike name so successfully, in those hectic Alamein days. With their ASV assisted night, low level searches, and mast-head high "first light" attacks, they helped eliminate the coast hugging supply bases and the Middle East oil wells, so desperately needed by the Axis partners.
Despite severe Hudson losses and damages John Cosgrove and his RAAF and RAF ground crew mates kept those Hudsons flying operationally, sometimes long past their "use-by" date. Then when the Hudsons were deemed too "clapped out" for further ops they gave the same care and expertise to maintaining record monthly serviceability ratings to the replacement Venturas and Baltimores 459 flew until February 1945.
Tom Gaunt recalls those days vividly, and for many eventful years subsequently as a fellow aircaft engineer with John in keeping the Qantas aircraft fleet at peak standard.
In the early 459 days John and tom had their moments - a lucky escape when they decided on a "gharry" trip back to 459 rather than accept a Hudson (newly reconditioned, probably at RAF 107 MU) lift. They learned later the Hudson had "pranged" with no survivors!
Staunch members of our Association John and Tom were regulars at Reunions until John became too disabled to attend. His old and beloved Jaguar, tenderly kept in peak mechanical condition, was no longer available for inspection by squadron mates.
John died on 19 December 2000, many of John Cosgrove's RAAF and Qantas friends noted with quiet appreciation the loving thoughts expressed by Lesley Cosgrove (daughter) about her dad in the death notice, inserted in the Sydney Morning Herald on 23 December 2000.
So another 459 Squadron character will be remembered during our Toast to Absent Friends, and Lesley will have her dearest wish - to join in a toast in memory of her "lovely Dad" with his RAAF and Qantas mates.
(Prepared by George Gray after discussions with his daughter Lesley Cosgrove and Tom Gaunt -- 2001-2002 Bulletin)
John Edward COSGROVE
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