Businessman and ex-RAF pilot dies

A LEADING Southwold businessman, with a distinguished record as a Royal Air Force officer, has died peacefully at his home in the town.

Maurice Cooper was born in Lowestoft, the second son of Guy and Lillian, and part of the family firm W B Cooper which operated in the town for 200 years.

He was educated at Highgate School in London, and was a keen sportsman.

After leaving school he was articled to a brewing family on the wishes of his father.

However, Mr Cooper's true passion was flying and a few years later he studied and passed the entrance examinations for the Royal Air Force.

Following a fast sea escort to Canada he undertook pilot training and received his wings, returning to Europe to serve in the second world war.

His two brothers were also pilots in the RAF during the war.

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Mr Cooper's elder brother, Neville, was shot down and lost in the Bay of Biscay on Christmas night 1943 while in command of of a Wellington bomber of Coastal Command on anti-submarine patrol.

Mr Cooper's younger brother, Gerald, flew Lancaster bombers and survived the war.

He was decorated by the King at Buckingham Palace, and died at the age of 82 in 2000.

After the war Maurice Cooper was promoted to Squadron Leader and took command of 53 Squadron.

He personally flew numerous missions on the Berlin Airlift and was 'buzzed' by Russian fighter planes many times.

In 1999 he was invited as a guest of the German government to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ending of the blockade.

For the past 40 years Mr Cooper has lived in Southwold, for 13 of which he owned and ran a successful local business.

He enjoyed fishing, golf and sailing his yacht Elan, having studied for his Yachtmaster's Certificate at Lowestoft College in the late 1970s.

Mr Cooper died on December 13, and is survived by his wife Heather and two sons.