Born: 9th May 1921, Wandsworth, Surrey.

Died: 28th December 1940; age 19; aircraft crashed at Debach, Suffolk.

Residence: 99, Red Post Hill, Camberwell, London.

Joined the R.A.F in August 1939 on a short service commission. On the 18th May 1940, after training he went to 6 OTU, at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, before joining 17 Squadron on the 25th May 1940.

David went to France in early June 1940, operating from Dinard, Brittany and Le Mans, Pays de la Loire.

David was an “Ace” as he had shot down five or more aeroplanes.


Rank: Pilot Officer/Pilot; Service Number: 42756.

Regiment: Royal Air Force, 17 Squadron.


Medals Awarded: Distinguished Flying Cross. Gazetted 26th November 1940.

Citation: “In November, 1940, this officer was engaged with his squadron in protecting two destroyers which were being attacked by a formation of enemy dive bombers heavily escorted by fighters. Showing magnificent courage and determination, Pilot Officer Cooper destroyed two of the enemy bombers and assisted in the destruction of another.
He has now destroyed at least five enemy aircraft.”

Details: LG 35001/6754.


Grave Reference:


Ipswich Old Cemetery,



Father: Frank Cooper Leary, born Decmber 1881, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand – died 1942, Camberwell, London. A lithographic artist. Frank joined the Amalgamated Society of Lithographic Artists on the 11th September 1909. During the Second World War Frank was an Air Raid Precautions – part time.

Mother: Ruth Winifred Leary (nee Harris), born July 1885, St. Pancras, London – died 1941, Camberwell, London.


David attended Hitherfield Road School, Streatham, London, followed by Alleyn’s School, Dulwich, South London – entered 17th September 1932 – 23rd July 1938. House – Brown’s. His address whilst attending Alleyn’s School: 123, Lyndhurst Avenue, SW2, Wandsworth. David’s end of term reports generally showed he was absent a lot, near the bottom of the class and that his artistic temperament was getting in the way of  learning. In December 1934 Class U.M.B.II reported ” absent minded, a good artist. Writes good English.” In July 1935 Class U.M.B.I reported ” a dreamer, son of artist, good English, and good art. Mr. Doubleday wants him to take extra art.”

David went on for further education at St. Martin’s School of Art.


School information courtesy of Nicola – Alleyn’s School Archivist – https://www.alleyns.org.uk/


28th December 1940

Aircraft: Hawker Hurricane; serial number: V6791. David was flying in fog and low cloud when he lost formation and dived into the ground.

Posted in Second World War

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