Warrant Officer Class II Everett Malcolm Coulter (23 July 1920 - 20 February 1944) was a Canadian man who served as a navigator with the 78th Squadron of the Royal Air Force during World War 2 (WWII). He was navigator of a Halifax heavy bomber during the disastrous third raid on Leipzig on the night of 19/20 February 1944. His plane was downed, likely by flak or enemy air-to-air fire, in the early morning of 20 February 1944.
His raid was the opening salvo of Big Week, the Allies' strategic bombing plan to achieve air superiority over Europe ahead of a land invasion in June 1944. Big Week was a success, albeit with heavy losses.
Big Week or Operation Argument was a sequence of raids by the United States Army Air Forces and RAF Bomber Command from 20 to 25 February 1944, as part of the European strategic bombing campaign against Nazi Germany. The planners intended to attack the German aircraft industry to lure the Luftwaffe into a decisive battle where the Luftwaffe could be damaged so badly that the Allies would achieve air superiority which would ensure success of the invasion of continental Europe.
From about 1933 to 1937, he attended Scarborough Collegiate Institute (since 1989 called R.H. King Academy) for secondary school, and along with his older brother Hubert, who was also killed in action (KIA) in WWII. At this school as of 2019 he remains, with his brother Hubert Coulter, who also died, memorialized on one of their walls with a picture as one of 66 alumni killed in World War II. 
He graduated from Toronto Normal School, probably in about 1939. He then taught for two years in the Sunderland district.
Service in World War 2
He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on 2 March 1942 in Toronto.
He served with service number R/156195, and had been promoted to Warrant Officer Class II just 15 days before his death. He served in the 78th Squadron of the RCAF, which flew out of an airfield in Bristol.
His military record notes his sports as hockey, baseball, and basketball.
On 25 August 1942 his medical examiner's remark was "Fair physique - small - thin. Stable type - slightly nervous but not notably tant [?]. Meek and mild type. Wants P [to become a pilot?]. At least average ability to learn."
He earned the Air Observer's Badge on 5 February 1943 at Crumlin, London, Ontario.
He went overseas to the UK in March 1943.
From 9 to 15 May 1943 he was on leave. 
On Sunday 23 May he survived an air raid on Bournemouth—Bournemouth's bloodiest of the war—wherein the Germans specifically targeted airmen. He stayed up all night searching for survivors in the rubble.
From 22 June to 2 August 1943 he went to Air Navigation School, but received poor marks, although the instructor's remark was "His work has been consistent. Should be good with experiance. [sic]"
From 17 August to 9 October 1943 he went to Air and Ground Training, ranking 29th out of 102 in the class. His instructor's remark was "Not a physical type. Has some merit academically."
On 5 February 1944 he was promoted from Flight Sergeant to Warrant Officer Class II.
At 00:11 the early morning of 20 February, he and his crew took off from Bristol Airbase, part of 15 other planes from his squadron bound for a bombing run to Leipzig. 5 planes returned early with mechanical problems. Of the remaining 10, 5 were shot down. He was in one of the 5 shot down. His was the only plane of the night from his squadron lost "without trace" so no record exists of exactly the circumstances or final position of the plane.
On 20 February 1944 his status was recorded as "missing in action" after "air operations". This is the date set as his death date for official purposes.
He had leave scheduled from 22 to 28 February, which was noted as "cancelled" in his wartime file, presumably after he went MIA.
The 78th squadron was a bomber squadron with the Number 4 Group .
On the night of 19/20 February, apparently "Some 823 bombers (Halifaxes and Lancasters) took off on the night of 19/20 February 1944 for an attack on Leipzig." 
A very sad day for Bomber Command - they had thought that the German controllers would send their night-fighter to the diversionary raid on Kiel Bay, but when this bomber stream crossed the Dutch coast they were met by a larger force of the night fighters (some that had left for the Kiel diversionary raid returned) They were then under attack all the way to the target.— Aircrew Remembered 
Leipzig. 823 aircraft, 78 losses (9.5%). Excluding early returners, the Halifax loss rate was 14.9%. As a result, Halifax Mks II and V were permanently withdrawn from service over Germany. The Kiel mine laying diversion was successful in drawing off fighters, but the German controllers only sent half of the available aircraft. As soon as the bomber stream crossed the Dutch coast they were confronted by the remaining half of the fighters and, moreover, the ones sent to Kiel were returned to join the fray. As a consequence, the fighters steadily picked off bombers all the way to this distant target. The winds were strongly than had been predicted and many bombers arrived early and had to orbit the target awaiting the Pathfinders, further increasing the likelihood of being picked off, either by flak or fighters. Leipzig was cloud covered and sky-marking had to be used. Early bombing appeared to be concentrated but later bombing less so. There was no local report nor a reconnaissance flight the following day. An American raid the following day then made it impossible to judge the effectiveness of the raid.— Losses.Internationalbcc.Co.Uk 
Liepzig was bombed on several days during World War II, including: 27 March 1943, 31 August 1943, 4 December 1943, 20 February 1944, 23 February 1944, May 1944, and 23 February 1945.
The Allied bombing crews never knew where they were going until a few hours before takeoff...
[The night of 19-20 February], there would be a different target: Leipzig, a city 200 kilometres south of Berlin that boasted not only Europe's largest railway station but also aircraft-parts factories crucial to the Luftwaffe. It would be the opening salvo in a sustained Allied aerial bombing campaign that would come to be known as Big Week. The six-day-long assault on the German aircraft industry would change the course of the war – but also come at a heavy cost.
The route to their target would take them nearly four hours, flying over the North Sea and the tip of the Netherlands before entering Germany's Altmark region and the city of Hanover. When they reached the small town of Stendal they were to proceed south to their mark. The Luftwaffe maintained a small but fearsome fleet of night fighters at Stendal, one that would be credited with numerous kills by war's end. Shortly before 3 a.m. on the 20th, Allied bombers en route to Leipzig began rounding the turn.
The Luftwaffe was ready. A team of Messerschmitts hit the sky and began picking Lancs and Halifax bombers off one by one. After 20 minutes, seven were on the ground, destroyed.
...The attack on Leipzig that night involved 823 Allied aircraft, 82 of which were lost. It cost the lives of 426 men; another 140 ended up as POWs. It was, by any measure, a catastrophe.— The Globe and Mail, the Great Escape, by Jack Mason, 11 November 2017 
During the so-called Big Week, Leipzig was one of the first targets that were attacked by British and American bombers. On 20 February 1944 between 3.15 am and 4.20 am residential areas in the south (Connewitz) as well as residential and industrial areas in the southwest of Leipzig (Schleußig and Großzschocher) were hit. During this night raid more than 700 bombers, which dropped about 2300 tons of bombs, were used. In the afternoon of the same day, more than 200 bombers of the 8th US Air Force attacked industrial facilities in the northeast of the city, using about 700 tons of bombs. Amongst others, the (second) Gewandhaus (concert hall) was almost totally destroyed as a result of the attacks. In total, about 970 people died, most of them during the British night raid. During the following day raid some of the bombed factories were damaged severely, e.g. 65% of the “Erla Maschinenwerk” in Heiterblick was destroyed. In May 1944 its production had not entirely recovered yet, while the other bombed factories were working at full capacity again.
Seventy-nine heavy bombers failed to return from the catastrophic raid on the industrial city of Leipzig on the night of 19/20 February 1944. Some 420 aircrew were killed and a further 131 became prisoners of war. It was at that time by far the RAFs most costly raid of World War II. The town was attacked in an attempt to destroy the Messerschmitt factory which was building the famous and deadly Bf 109 fighter. The bomber stream flew into what appeared to be a trap. It seemed that the Luftwaffe and anti-aircraft guns were aware of the intended target and waiting to pounce as soon as the bombers crossed the coast. They were subjected to constant attack by night fighters and intense flak until those aircraft that remained clawed their way home and secured relative safety over the North Sea. What went wrong: Espionage played a part, two bombers collided shortly after take off, as did others as they wove their way through enemy searchlights and maneuvered violently to escape Luftwaffe night fighters. At the outset poor navigational and meteorological briefings had hindered the bombers attempts to locate the target and confusion reigned. The author explains the concept of this third raid on Leipzig and describes the two previous ones in October and December 1943, both of which had been deemed successes. He looks at the third raid from every angle, including the defending forces and describes the daylight raid that followed on the 20th by the USAAF.— Target Leipzig: The RAF's Disastrous Raid of 19/20 February 1944, By Alan Cooper 
Coulter's crew was on plane Halifax LK763-K:
- RAF Sgt John "Jack" Smith (pilot) [other source is "V. Smith"] (SON OF ROBERT GORDON SMITH AND LILY SMITH, OF SELSDON, SURREY.)
- RCAF F/Sgt E.M. Coulter (navigator) [other source is "V. Coulter"]
- RAF F/O Ian R.M. Douglas-Pulleyne  (bomb aimer)
- RAF Sgt George Frederick Reynolds (wireless operator)
- RAF Sgt George Beal (flight engineer)
- RAF Sgt Richard Glasson O'Neil (mid upper gunner) (born 10 August 1923)
- RAAF Sgt Lawrence Ernest Mears (rear gunner)
So of the 7 crew, one was Canadian and two Australian, although O'Neil was RAF even though Australian parents.
Aircraft Type: Halifax Serial number: LK 763 Radio call sign: EY – K Unit: 78 Sqn RAF
Summary: Halifax LK 763 of 78 Sqn RAF took off from RAF Brighton, near Selby, Yorkshire, at 0011 hours on 20 February 1944 to attack Leipzig, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off, and it did not return to base.
... Following post war enquiries and investigations, it was recorded in 1950 that the missing crew had no known grave.— Douglas History Archives (a family site by a relative of Bomb Aimer Sgt Ian Douglas-Pulleyne 
REASON FOR LOSS: The pre-briefing was called for 11:00 hours, but when the pilots and navigators had gathered for it to begin, a call was received by the squadron commander telling him the Briefing had been put back to 17:00 hours.
At midnight the bombers began taking off to rendezvous with the rest of the force for there raid on Leipzig.
Took off at 00:11 hrs from RAF Breighton to attack the city of Leipzig together with 822 other aircraft (561 Lancasters, 255 Halifaxes. 7 Mosquitoes)
A very sad day for Bomber Command - they had thought that the German controllers would send their night-fighter to the diversionary raid on Kiel Bay, but when this bomber stream crossed the Dutch coast they were met by a larger force of the night fighters (some that had left for the Kiel diversionary raid returned) They were then under attack all the way to the target.
The winds had not been as forecasted and a number of the bombers had to circle the target waiting for the pathfinders during this period they lost 4 aircraft in collisions and a further 20 from the heavy flak.
The target was cloud covered and the pathfinders had to use the sky-marking technique. No details regarding the effect of the bombing were available.
The Halifax III LK763 is described as missing with no report on location. No fighter claims for this loss reported and it is thought that they were possibly brought down by flak although many claims by the night fighters were not provided with a positive identification.— Aircrewremembered.com 
Squadron 78, 19 February 1944
23 aircraft detailed for operations, Target Leipzig.
February 19 1944 7 aircraft did not airborne ,
7 aircraft reached and attacked the target.
The ground crew had his hands full preparing the LW465, LV814, HX355 (with Sgt. LeBlanc as Rear Gunner), LV820, LV799, LK763 [Coulter's plane], LW367, LV795, LV816, HX241, LW547, LW507, LW509, LW511 and LK762, filling them up with fuel and bombing them up.
The pre-briefing was called for 11:00 hours, but when the pilots and navigators had gathered for it to begin, a call was received by the squadron commander telling him the Briefing had been put back to 17:00 hours.
At midnight the bombers began taking off to rendezvous with the rest of the force for [their] raid on Leipzig.
Lost in Action
Airborne 00.11 hour on 20 February '44 from Breighton.
Lost without trace. All are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Sgt J.Smith KIA Sgt G.Beal KIA F/S E.M.Coulter RCAF KIA F/O I.R.M.Douglas-Pulleyne KIA Sgt G.F.Rynolds KIA Sgt L.E.Mears KIA Sgt R.G.O'Neill RAAF KIA— 
23 aircraft detailed for operations, Target Leipzig. 7 [8?] aircraft did not get airborne
So of 15 planes launched from 78 Squadron, 5 lost in action, 2 saw combat but returned, 5 returned early. The remaining 3 presumably reached their target and bombed without incident.
Finally 5 pm came and Tom Smith and Bernard Downs settled down behind closed doors for the briefing. The sheet was removed revealing a large map with a red tape running across to the target. The black board contained a series of tracks and times. At the head of the board in large capitals was written LEIPZIG 19/2/44. All the aircraft would carry a similar bomb loading cosisting of one 2,000-lb high explosive and 8,000 lb in canisters of incendiaries.
The main briefing as at 2130 hours. The route, the Pathfinders' role and weather were fully discussed.... Finally the Commanding Officer said 'Have a good trip and good luck.'
...It was time for the crews to get dressed. On went the woollen 'Long John', extra roll neck sweaters and fur-lined flying boots. The flying helmets, gloves, parachutes and Mae Wests were checked. The gunners had additional outer clothing with electrically heated gloves and insoles for their boots, something they would certainly need on this operation.
... The ground crew were waiting for the crews and the pilot to sign the Form 700, which meant he accepted the aircraft as being serviceable. At 11.30 pm the crew started to board the aircraft and the start-up procedure began. At 11.45 pm the aircraft started to roll forward from their hard standings and on to the taxi track. An airfield at night was a forest of lights - white, red, amber, green, and blue, some bright and some dim. At 11.55 pm at the runway holding point, there would be a pre-take-off check. Checks were made of the fuel, flaps and fine-pitch - there were twenty-seven items in all to check. There was a short green flash from the controller's caravan then a turn on to the runway. At 11.59 pm there was a long green flash, then it was throttles open and Z-Zebra started to move forward slowly at first but building up momentum. The tail lifted off the runway at 100 mph to 115 mph and 33 tons of aircraft with its bomb load took to the air.
... Soon the air all over Lincoln and Yorkshire was full of the sound of aircraft engines, Lancasters and Halifaxes taking off for a long flight to Leipzig in Eastern Germany.
...Of the main force that went out sixty-nine failed to return (9.7%)... 25,552 bombs were dropped by 730 aircraft that attacked the target.— Chapter 10, Target Leipzig: The RAF's Disastrous Raid of 19/20 February 1944, by Alan Cooper.
On 6 June 1943 he wrote home to his sister Ruth:
Sgt. Coulter E.M.
June 6, 1943.
Dear Ruth + Bruce,
It's been quite a while since your letter came and I should have answered it before. However, you will probably have seen any & all of my letters at home. An air letter from Daddy came in 14 days. Up to the time of writing - May 21st he said they had only received 3 letters of various descriptions from me. I very foolishly left writing after the first few until I started getting answers. That left quite a gap in the time of my letters reaching Canada. Now I am writing regularly every week so they should be coming through better now. I would write blue air letters all the time but we can't get many of them. Once a week they give us one on parade so they don't go around very far for writing home.
I gather from your letter that Bruce's birthday is April 23. Right or wrong? After getting the telegram about Hubert I kind of forget about the birthdays in May until Wesley's letter came the other day. He wrote it on his birthday. Now there are Ken's and Elaine's. I must remember and yours following shortly after. In case I don't get another letter away in time - Many Happy Returns of the day on the 2nd, Ruth.
Your mention of bicycles must have given me an idea because I went to the town of Poole the other day and bought a new one. It cost £10 7s 3d or $47.50 in Canadian money. It was quite a bit to pay but you can usually get quite close to full value if you want to sell a bike over here. The money was burning a hole in my pocket. I went away on leave with £16 and came back with £14 so I had to do something with it.
That reminds that perhaps Elaine might like a bike. See Mama + Daddy and get their opinion on the matter. Perhaps they might not like her to have one in the city but I think she is big enough to handle one now. If they are agreeable to let her have one, take one my checks and get one for her birthday. I should have written sooner and then you could have been on the look out for one. Perhaps you won't receive this letter till after her birthday but it would be just as well for her not to see it till after her exams. You can see what they think about the matter.
I have had two air letters from Ken. He says he has his bike all oiled up ready to go. I am glad you liked the picture. I would liked to have seen them myself. Everybody seems to be satisfied with them so I guess they must be all right.
I finished out a role [sic] of film while I was in Aberdeen on my leave [9 to 15 May 1943] but they all turned out underexposed. I don't know just what the trouble was. You probably wonder how I got all the way to Aberdeen and back on £2. We can get travel warrants for leaves to any place in Gt. Britain and Northern Ireland so I took advantage of the opportunity. I had seven days and divided the time between London, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Edith had given me an address of friends of theirs in Aberdeen so I thought it would be a good idea to take in the far away places first. On the way up I stopped off in London and went out to see the people Hubert spent his leaves with. They are very nice. While there I also saw Buckingham Palace, Westminister [sic] Abbey, Houses of Commons & Lords, Big Ben, 10 Downing St., and Trafalgar Square. I also spent some time amusing myself in the tubes (London's Underground Railway.) The following day and night I stopped off in Glasgow and then went on to Aberdeen for the rest of the time. On the way back I rode in the "Flying Scotsman" .
The weather is O.K [sic] at 10 ft. Bruce but as yet I have not got any higher to see what it is like. I haven't been inside a plane since A.O.S. [Air Operating School] About the only work we have done is a three week refresher course in ground school which we finished on Sat [Saturday].
Two weeks ago I experienced my first air raid. Just after dinner [actually it was 12:54] on Sunday [23 May 1943] I was lying on the grass in the Park [in Bournemouth ]. The alert went but as usual we payed no attention to it because up till then nothing had happened. This time it was the real McCoy. Focke-Wulfe 190's [sic]  and Messersmitts 190F's [sic]  came sailing over the roof tops dropping small bombs (500 lb.) on whatever buildings they saw and strafed the park with machine guns and canon. You never saw a park clear so fast. Everybody ducked under trees and shrubbery to get out of sight. It was too late to think of shelters. A chap about 4 yards from me got a canon slug in the back and died next day. [From historical casualty records, this "chap" could have been either Abraham Spinak or Robert Barrington Robshaw ] Several others in the park were cut to pieces, and many received minor injuries. I worked all night to 5 A.M. [Monday 24 May 1943] in a rescue squad helping to get people out of the remains of a hotel. You could hear voices all through the ruins so we tried to tunnel to them first because we knew they were still alive. The raid only lasted 45 seconds but that was plenty long enough. It was just a nuisance raid - 'tip and run'  as they call them here. One of our chaps threw a kid into the bushes and laid on top of him to protect him. A bullet grazed his trousers and took the kid's foot off. When I see what a few small bombs did here, it must have been terrific during the London blitz and at places such as Coventry etc. I guess they are really giving Germany + Italy their own medicine back now. It looks as though they intend to flatten Germany & Italy from the air before going in on the land. If they don't let us start flying soon we'll be missing out on the fun. Germany must realize her fate by now.
See article: A minute of intense devastation – Bournemouth’s bloodiest air raid 
Well I hope you both are in good health. The weather has been really healthy since we arrived. There has been the most sunshine this year that there has been for years in Eng. [England] Once again many Happy Returns of the day on the 2nd [of July] Ruth [for her birthday].
Everett— Everett Coulter, letter to Ruth Newman, 6 June 1943
The Bournemouth air raid of 23 May 1943 was its bloodiest of the war:
On 23 May, hundreds of Canadian airmen were staying at the Metropole Hotel... The authorities typically expected to give Bournemouth a full 22 minutes’ warning of approaching enemy aircraft, but on 23 May 1943 the sirens sounded at 12.54 and the first bomb was dropped as the clocks prepared to strike one. What followed was barely a minute of intense devastation in which around 25 high-explosive bombs fell on the town and, with grotesque irony, the Pleasure Gardens were strafed with machine gun fire.
In its wake, at least 131 people lay dead, although the grim total may never be known exactly. Hundreds more were injured, many of them suffering – to use the modern parlance – life-changing injuries and some 3359 buildings were damaged, 37 of which had to be demolished adding to the 22 that had been destroyed in the raid including two of the town’s landmark hotels, the Metropole at the Lansdowne and the Central at the bottom of Richmond Hill.
On May 23, 1943, the peacefulness of a beautiful Sunday morning was abruptly shattered when 22 German aircraft, led by Leutnant Leopold Wenger, conducted their most audacious raid on Bournemouth. The Kingsway Hotel, the Congressional Church and Beales Department Store sustained significant bomb damage, but at the Landsdowne Circle the Metropole Hotel was virtually destroyed when it took a direct hit.
Casualties were high. Among the 128 killed that day were 51 service men.— Dorset Life, April 2013 
Some weeks later, he wrote to Ruth again, on 23 August 1943:
FROM R156195, Sgt. Coulter E.M., R.C.A.F. Overseas
TO Mr + Mrs B.F. Newman, 2042 Gerrard St. E, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
R.C.A.F. Overseas, 25.8.43. [25 August 1943]
On looking over my unanswered letters I see that there are two of yours unanswered. It is now over a week since I received the one you wrote in Sarnia and well over a month since the other one came. I keep resolving to get entirely caught up in correspondence but never seem to quite manage. There were four air letters from home, two from Ken and two from you, so three answers are accounting for quite a few. They seem to come in bunches.
I see by the letters from home that Elaine has her bicycle now [purchased for her 14th birthday on 27 June 1943]. No doubt she will be tickled with it. It is good that she already knows how to ride it. Don's [Everett's youngest brother Ian Donald Coulter] birthday will be next [his 10th birthday on 27 September 1943]. I was wondering what to suggest for him. However I have written home and told them to use a check as for Elaine, and get whatever they think he would like. If he has an inkling for a wagon, that might be a good idea.
Your letter of June 26 came while I was at A.F.U. [Advanced Flying Unit] but the second one came since we moved to O.T.U. [Operational Training Unit]  My pilot Jack Smith [who would die with Everett on the night raid of 19/20 Feb 1944] and I were into Oxford  last Saturday to do some shopping. It isn't much of a business centre but mainly as one would expect, a centre of learning" [sic - first quote missing]. The rest of my crews' names are W/OP [Without Papers?]
- on WAG [Wireless Operator/Air Gunner] - George Reynolds, &
- Bomb Aimer  - George Burnham.
- Gunners & a Flight Engineer will be added when we get on to the four engine jobs.
We may have to look for a new Bomb Aimer as the present one has developed a case of ulcers of the stomach (like Harvey Shier had) [indeed Burnham was replaced]
I got a letter from Alice Ingham [possibly this woman (1919-2005) ] a bit ago. If she could only learn not to start each sentence with 'So' her letters would be a lot easier to read. What she has to say is interesting but these "so" sentences all the time are rather irksome.
A few days ago a chap in the Canadian Army over here, whom I didn't know, wrote me. It turned out that he is a brother of one of Hubert's crew - the W/OP [Wireless Operator] I presume. It is rather a coincidence that my pilot should have the same name as Hubert's. My first pilot - a Canadian - was sent here by mistake and had to leave for another O.T.U. [Operational Training Unit] the day after we had agreed to crew up. All my crew now are English boys. To get back to the army lad - His name is Homer Newton and he is stationed near London. As I am within popping in distance of London we may get to-gether [sic] some week-end [sic].
No doubt you had a good time on holidays at the cottage. We got no leave between A.F.U. [Advanced Flying Unit] + O.T.U. [Operational Training Unit] There should definitely be some after this course.
Glad to hear you got a raise in salary, Bruce.
Everett— Everett Coulter, letter to Ruth Newman, 25 August 1943
He was missing in action 20 February 1944:
Flt. Sgt. [sic? he was a Warrant Officer Class II] Everett Malcolm Coulter, 151 [sic - it was actually 157] Wolverleigh Blvd., missing, was born in Calgary in July, 1920. He is a graduate of Toronto Normal School and before enlisting in March, 1942, taught school for two years in the Sunderland district. He graduated at Crumlin [an RCAF base in London, Ontario]  in February, 1943, as a navigator and went overseas the following month. He had been on operational assignments during the past three months in Halifax bombers. A brother, Hubert, an R.C.A.F. observer, has been missing since May, 1943, and is now presumed dead. Another brother, Wesley is a sergeant navigator in England— Globe and Mail
Pte. [sic] Everett Malcolm Coulter was born July 23, 1920 at Calgary, Alberta. He was the son of Rev. Joseph and Mrs. Bessie Coulter, fifth oldest in a family of five boys and two girls. They lived in Western Canada until moving to Little Current in 1928.— The Manitoulin (Island) Expositor, special issue, 1994. (Note: it contains several inaccuracies)
Along with 20,450 others who have no known grave, he is commemorated at Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, United Kingdom, and referenced on grave reference panel 254.
 Wartime files 
 Canadian Virtual War Memorial