​The superb Second World War Middle East Aerial Combat, Anti Submarine, and Evacuation of Greece Distinguished Flying Medal and Greek Air Force Cross group of six awarded to Sergeant K. J. Cole, Royal Air Force, who was decorated on completing no less than 168 operational sorties in Sunderlands of No. 230 Squadron, said sorties including the destruction of three enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat and a dozen attacks on U-Boats - ‘two of which were definitely sunk’: so, too, the evacuation of the King of Hellenes to Crete, for which services he

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The superb Second World War Middle East Aerial Combat, Anti Submarine, and Evacuation of Greece Distinguished Flying Medal and Greek Air Force Cross group of six awarded to Sergeant K. J. Cole, Royal Air Force, who was decorated on completing no less than 168 operational sorties in Sunderlands of No. 230 Squadron, said sorties including the destruction of three enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat and a dozen attacks on U-Boats - ‘two of which were definitely sunk’: so, too, the evacuation of the King of Hellenes to Crete, for which services he was awarded the Greek Air Force Cross.

Group of 6: Distinguished Flying Medal, GVI 1st type; (569476 SGT. R.J. COLE. R.A.F.); 1939-1945 Star; Africa Star; Defence Medal; War Medal; Greece - Kingdom of: Air Force Cross. Mounted swing style as worn.

Condition: Good Very Fine.

Together with the following quantity of original documentation and ephemera:

Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood Letter inviting him to attend the investiture of his Distinguished Flying Medal at Buckingham Palace on 15th May 1945, this letter dated 3rd May 1945.

Letter of congratulations on his award of the DFM from Air Vice Marshal and AOC No.201 Naval Co-operation Group, RAF Middle East, dated 20th September 1942.

Telegram of congratulation to him on his award, dated 10th October 1942.

Greek Diploma for the award of the Greek Air Force Cross, dated 29th March 1955, this including the Greek language citation which when translated reads as follows: ‘Kingdom of Greece By the 29/3/1965 Royal Decree Awarded to the Flying Sergeant K.J.Cole, The Air Force Medal because as crew member of the RAF aircraft carrying the late King of the Greeks George II from mainland Greece to Crete, during the critical and dangerous war moments of 1941, he showed exceptional professional ability within his area of duties.’

Air Ministry Letter notifying him that the Greek Air Force Medal with diploma has now arrived with the Air Ministry, dated 23rd July 1962.

Air Ministry Letter which accompanied the Greek Air Force Medal, together with relevant diploma for the award, dated 1st August 1962.

Royal Air Force Certificate of Service and Discharge, together with forwarding letter dated 24th April 1949.

Royal Air Force Service and Release Book.

Letter from the Wing Commander commanding 230 Squadron sending ‘congratulations to the Captain and crew of Aircraft ‘X’ on the excellent work they have done during the last few weeks against enemy submarines’, dated 10th February 1942.

2 x handwritten lists of names, all which appear to be of eastern european origin, believed to have been passengers who were picked up and evacuated from Yugoslavia or Greece.

230 Squadron Details Sheet for the Sergeant’s Mess, which gives mention that Cole and three others have been awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal, dated 18th September 1942.

Photograph of recipient in uniform taken a Galle on the south coast of Ceylon.

Kenneth John Cole was born on 6th January 1919  in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, and having worked in photography, then opted for a career with the Royal Air Force, and then joined as an Aircraft Apprentice with No.4 Wing at RAF Halton on 29th January 1936, being appointed to Acting Leading Aircraft Apprentice on 27th October 1936, and then confirmed in that position on the same date, he completed his training and remustered as an Aircraftsman 1st Class and Fitter 2nd Grade on 5th January 1939 when he was posted to RAF Debden, and having been promoted to Leading Aircraftsman on 1st August 1939, then joined No.29 Squadron out in Singapore from 25th August 1939, and from 24th September 1939 was serving with No.230 Squadron out in the Far East and at Ceylon, where he was based down at Galle on the southwest coast.

Posted to Middle East Command on 24th May 1940, he then joined 230 Squadron again on 19th June 1940 which was by now serving in the Mediterranean theatre, being then remustered as an Air Gunner and Flight Engineer with the rank of Sergeant on 1st January 1941, and saw operational service in Sunderland Flying Boats.

Cole who flew on reconnaissance sorties out of Egypt for the Mediterranean Fleet and on anti-submarine patrols. Cole then saw operational service during the German invasion of Greece from April 1941, where he became heavily engaged in the evacuation of British Forces from both Greece and Crete. In April 1941 228 and 230 Squadron’s were tasked with the evacuation of 900 refugees from the Greek coast, these included senior Allied Commanders and the King of Greece.

Cole’s Sunderland, piloted by Wing Commander P.R. Woodward, evacuated the King of the Hellenes from Greece to Crete, and  all seven crew members of Cole’s Sunderland were decorated with Greek awards, Cole being awarded the Greek Air Force Medal in the London Gazette for 26th March 1945, he however did not receive this award till July 1962, but instead of receiving the Greek Air Force Medal, he was in fact sent the Air Force Cross, the award certificate being dated 29th March 1955, but it obviously took a further seven years for the award to make its way to him via the Air Ministry, who finally sent it out to him on 1st August 1962. The Greek language citation reads as follows: ‘Kingdom of Greece By the 29/3/1965 Royal Decree Awarded to the Flying Sergeant K.J.Cole, The Air Force Medal because as crew member of the RAF aircraft carrying the late King of the Greeks George II from mainland Greece to Crete, during the critical and dangerous war moments of 1941, he showed exceptional professional ability within his area of duties.’

Cole continued to service with 230 Squadron till 31st May 1943, seeing further service in the Mediterranean. Here, then, a lengthy period of operational flying in which his crew had three successful encounters with enemy aircraft and carried out a dozen attacks against U-Boats, ‘two of which were definitely sunk’; one of these may have been the U-577 which was destroyed by a Sunderland of No. 230 Squadron off Mersa Matruh on 9th January 1942.

Cole was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Medal in the London Gazette for 18th September 1942. The original recommendation reads as follows:

‘This airman has completed over 1,000 hours operational flying involving 168 sorties as Fitter and Engineer/Air Gunner on Sunderlands. In the course of these operations the aircraft has performed valuable reconnaissance and anti-submarine patrols, the successful conclusion of which was due in no small measure to the outstanding qualities of coolness and resource shown by him. He contributed extremely valuable work whilst the aircraft was engaged on the evacuation of British forces from Crete and Greece, the unfailing serviceability of his aircraft under difficult conditions being largely a result of his untiring efforts. The aircrew of which he is a member have been responsible for the destruction of three enemy fighters in aerial combat and carried out 12 attacks on hostile submarines, two of which were definitely sunk and at least three severely damaged.’

By the time Cole was ‘rested’ and embarked for the United Kingdom in May 1943, he had flown 168 operational sorties. He remained employed as an instructor with various home based unit, and remastered as an untrained airman pilot on 31st May 1943, though he appears to have remained in his previous roleas a Fitter 2nd Grade, being then sent out to Air Command South East Asia in December 1945, and flew in and around India, before being posted home again in September 1947, and was finally discharged in the rank of Sergeant in March 1949 in the rank of Sergeant.


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