Peter Samuel Cotterell was born in Broadway, in 1923, the son Mildred Agnes Cotterell. Peter was a member of Broadway Air Training Corps and joined the RAF Voluntary Reserve in the summer of 1944.
Peter trained as an Air Gunner with training unit 1664 HCU before being posted to 158 Squadron, on 9th November 1944, at RAF Lissett, Yorkshire.
The following year, Peter was killed whilst on a bombing mission, Operation Hanau1, in a Halifax Mk. III NR195 NP-I. At 3.44pm, on 6th January 1944, the Halifax took off from RAF Lissett. After bombing its target the Halifax was involved in a mid-air collision with a Lancaster (PB288) from 635 Squadron. Shortly after 7pm, 17,000 feet above Grossauheim, near Hanau on the east bank of the River Main, the Halifax strayed into the path of the Lancaster and the Halifax disintegrated in mid-air2. All 7 members of the Halifax crew lost their lives: Flight Officer John J. Krefter (Pilot), Sergeant Alexander T. Clyde (Flight Engineer), Flight Sergeant Leslie G. Morgan (Navigator), Sergeant James Gore (Air Bomber), Flight Officer K. Nerney (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner), Sergeant Ernest H.M. Barr (Air Gunner) and Sergeant Peter S. Cotterell (Air Gunner). The pilot of the Lancaster PB288, Flight Lieutenant Rowland RAAF, was the sole survivor of his crew and he was captured by the Germans the following day 25 miles from the crash scene.
Peter and the rest of the crew of the Halifax and those of the Lancaster were all initially buried in the cemetery at Grossauheim before being moved to Dürnbach War Cemetery in 1947.
Sergeant Peter Cotterell is also commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial and on the Roll of Honour inside St Michael and All Angels Church, Broadway.
We will remember them.
1. Hanau, east of Frankfurt, was an important junction on the German railway system.
2. The Germans tried to take credit for the two aircraft claiming their Flak battery had taken down the aeroplanes.