The superb Second World War Bomber Command 1943 to 1945 Operations Air Gunner’s and Path Finder Force 48 operational sortie double tour Distinguished Flying Cross, and 1940-1941 London Blitz Wandsworth / Battersea Air Raid Protection Warden’s British Empire Medal and 1944 Mention in Despatches flying log book group awarded to Flight Lieutenant J.H. Cole, Royal Air Force, late Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and ARP Warden with the Air Raid Protection Service, who was first decorated for service in rescuing a trapped people from bombed bui
The superb Second World War Bomber Command 1943 to 1945 Operations Air Gunner’s and Path Finder Force 48 operational sortie double tour Distinguished Flying Cross, and 1940-1941 London Blitz Wandsworth / Battersea Air Raid Protection Warden’s British Empire Medal and 1944 Mention in Despatches flying log book group awarded to Flight Lieutenant J.H. Cole, Royal Air Force, late Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and ARP Warden with the Air Raid Protection Service, who was first decorated for service in rescuing a trapped people from bombed buildings in Wandsworth and Battersea, specifically an incident in Queenstown Road; he flew operationally in Lancaster bombers, on his first tour with 467 RAAF Squadron, he was Mentioned in Despatches, and then on his second tour with 83 Squadron as part of No.5 Group Pathfinder Force, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, having on two occasions, firstly during a raid on the night of 14/15 January 1945 in a raid to Merseberg, and secondly, on the night of 16th March 1945 in a raid on Wurzburg, successfully driven off enemy fighters which were lining up his aircraft, one of which he claimed as probably destroyed.
Group of 6: Distinguished Flying Cross, GVI 1st type cypher, reverse dated 1945; British Empire Medal, GVI 1st type cypher, Civil Division; (JOHN HENRY COLE); 1939-1945 Star; Air Crew Europe Star with France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; War Medal with Mention in Despatches Oakleaf; last four all with privately engraved naming; (159889 FLT LIEUT. J.H. COLE DFC BEM R.A.F.V.R.).
Condition: Good Very Fine.
Together with the following:
Buckingham Palace Forwarding Letter for the Distinguished Flying Cross, issued to: ‘Flight Lieutenant John H. Cole, D.F.C., B.E.M.’
Mention in Despatches Award Certificate, issued to Flying Officer J.H. Cole, B.E.M., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, dated 8th June 1944.
Royal Air Force Observer’s and Air Gunner’s Flying Log Book, issued to John Cole, and covering the period from 25th November 1942 continutally through to 7th April 1945, and then with an additional entry for 14th August 1947.
Recipient’s Royal Air Force Path Finder Force Badge and the Royal Air Force Path Finder Force Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Flight Lieutenant J.H. Cole. B.E.M. 159889’ dated 7th April 1945.
Newspaper cutting detailing the award of his Distinguished Flying Cross, including image of the recipient in uniform.
John Henry Cole was born on 26th January 1906 in Clapham, London, and having been educated at Tennyson Street School in Battersea, before the war owned a window cleaning business at Merton Park. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Cole joined the Air Raid Protection Service as an ARP Warden in Wandsworth, and was then heavily involved in the London Blitz.
It was for these services during 1940 to 1941 when involved in rescuing a trapped people from bombed buildings in Wandsworth and Battersea that Cole was awarded the British Empire Medal, the award being published in the London Gazette for 27th June 1941. The citation reads as follows: ‘During an air raid a woman was trapped when trying to leave a building through the hall. The side wall and roof had collapsed on her, leaving dangerously poised debris overhead. She was seriously injured and great care was necessary whilst effecting her rescue. Cole worked in the narrow space without regard for the danger which threatened him and it was due to his outstanding work that the casualty was safely extricated. On another occasion Cole crawled through a hole under the floor of a collapsed building to search for people thought to be trapped in a cellar which was rapidly filling with water.’ It is indicated in the newspaper cutting that his British Empire Medal was specifically for a rescue incident at Queenstown Road, Battersea.
Cole then enlisted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in June 1941 as an Aicraftman 2nd Class (No.1444590) for General Duties, and was then promoted to Aircraftman 1st Class followed by Leading Aircraftman, and employed as an Aircrafthand. Having re-mustered for training as an Air Gunner, he joined No.7 Air Gunnery School at Stormy Down for a course from 31st October to 28th December 1942, during which he gained flying experience in Defiant and Whitley aircraft. Posted to No.1661 Conversion Flight at Fullback from 9th to 18th January 1943, here he flew in Manchester aircraft in readiness for conversion to heavy bombers, and moved onto Halifax aircraft in March 1943 with ‘A’ Flight, followed by Lancaster bombers later in the month with ‘B’ Flight. Having then joined 467 RAAF Squadron in April 1943, and flying in Lancaster bombers as an Air Gunner, he flew in his first sortie, a raid on Duisburg on 26th April 1943. This was followed by a sortie to Essen on the 30th April.
On 4th May he flew in a sortie to Dortmund, and on 27th May flew in another sortie to Essen, followed by raid on Elberfeld-Wuppertal-Barmen on 29th May. On 11th June he flew in a sortie to Dusseldorf, and on 12th June in a sortie to Bochum. On 14th June he flew in a sortie to Oberhausen, and on 17th and 28th June flew in sorties to Cologne. On 3rd July he flew in a sortie to Cologne again, and followed this by another to Cologne on 8th July. Then on 24th July he flew in a sortie to Hamburg, on 25th July in a sortie to Essen, and on 29th July in a sortie to Hamburg. On 2nd August he flew in a sortie to Hamburg again, and on 7th August in a sortie to Genoa. On 10th August he flew in a sortie to Nuremberg, and on 27th August flew in another sortie to Nuremberg. Then on 30th August he flew in a sortie to Munchen-Gladback, and on 31st August in a sortie to Berlin.
On 13th September he flew in a sortie to Berlin, and on 16th September in a sortie to Mannheim. On 27th September he flew in a sortie to Hannover. Then on 3rd October he flew in a sortie to Kassel, this being the final sortie of his first tour of operations, by which time he had complete 25 operational sorties. Throughout this tour of duty, Cole had flown in the aircraft piloted by Flight Sergeant and subsequently Pilot Officer Sullivan. Meanwhile, Cole who had been commissioned as a Pilot Officer (No.159889) on 10th September 1943, did not fly again till January 1944, when he began employment as a gunnery instructor with No.14 Operational Training Unit and flying in Wellington bombers.
Promoted to Flying Officer on 10th March 1944, Cole was Mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished service in the London Gazette for 8th June 1944, almost certainly as a result of completing his first tour of operations. Cole then found himself posted to the Gunnery Leader Wing in June 1944, where he further flew in the Wellington bomber. Posted operational again, this time to join No.83 Squadron at Coningsby, and flying in Lancaster bombers again, Cole now found himself flying as part with the elite Path Finder Force as part of No.5 Group, where 83 Squadron was the independent Pathfinder unit for operations by the group.
Now flying as part of the crew of the Lancaster flown by Flight Lieutenant Cornish, on 26th September 1944 he flew in the first sortie of his second tour of operations, a raid on Karlsruhe, and then on 27th September he flew in a raid on Kaiserlautern. On 14th October he flew in a sortie to Brunswick, and on 28th October in a sortie to Bergen. On 5th November he flew in a raid on the Dortmund-Emms Canal, and then on 6th November flew in a raid on the Emms-Vaast Canal. On 7th November he flew in a raid on Harburg, and on the 8th November flew in a raid on Homburg, this being his first sortie in daylight. Then on 6th December he flew in a raid on Giessen, and on 9th December was scheduled for a raid on the Urft Dam, however this was cancelled. Then on 17th December he flew in a raid Munich, and on 21st December in a raid on Politz.
With the final year of the war, Cole was busy on operations. On 5th January he flew in a sortie to “Mouffalauce” in the aircraft piloted by Flying Officer Williams. Returning to the crew of Cornish’s aircraft, on 13th January he flew in a sortie to Politz, and on 14th January in a sortie to Merseberg, during which he claimed a probable destruction of a Ju88 night fighter. Then on 16th January he flew in a sortie to Brux. On 1st February he flew in a sortie to Seagan, and on 2nd February in a sortie to Karlsruhe. Then on 13th February he flew in a raid to Dresden, and on 14th February in a raid to Rosita. On 23rd February he flew in a raid to Horten, and on 24th February he flew in a daylight raid to Ladbergen. This month he appears to have left the crew of Flight Lieutenant Cornish, and flown with Flight Lieutenant Norbury, Flight Lieutenant Siddle, and also Flight Lieutenant Cassidy.
However having settled into the crew of the aircraft flown by Siddle, on 7th March he flew in a sortie to Harburg, and on 16th March in a sortie to Wurtzburg. Then on 22nd March he flew in a sortie on Hamburg. Cole’s final operational sortie of the war was a raid on Moldis on 7th April, as part of the crew of Flight Lieutenant Judge. He had completed another 25 operational sorties and a second tour of operations. He was awarded the Path Finder Force Badge on 7th April 1945.
In the meantime he had been recommended for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. The recommendation reads as follows: ‘Flight Lieutenant Cole has completed 48 operations against the enemy. His first tour was carried out in 1943 at a time when enemy opposition was at its fiercest. He visited the Ruhr nine times, Cologne three times and Berlin twice. On his second tour he joined the Path Finder Force and he has completed 24 sorties. His work as an Air Gunner has been most meritorious, particularly in view of the fact that he is considerably older than the average air gunner. He has shown a fine courage and resolution in the face of the enemy and has successfully defended his aircraft from damage. On the night of 14/15 January 1945 his crew was taking part in an attack on Merseberg. On the way to the target Flight Lieutenant Cole, flying a rear gunner, sighted a Ju88 approaching to attack. He opened fire immediately: strikes were observed around the enemy aircraft’s engines and pieces were seen to fall from the starboard wing. The fighter broke away and did not return. On the night of 16th March 1945 Flight Lieutenant Cole’s crew was taking part in an attack on Wurzburg. On the way to the target Cole observed an Me110 positioning itself to attack. His warning to his pilot prevented the enemy getting into position and his fire drove it off. For his cool and courageous performance of his duties as an air gunner, Flight Lieutenant Cole is recommended for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.’
Cole’s award of the Distinguished Flying Cross was published in the London Gazette for 21st September 1945, and back on 10th September he had been promoted to Flight Lieutenant. In the meantime, he had been taken off flying duties, and on 2nd May 1945 had been posted to the Aircrew Allocation Centre at Catterick. Posted out to India to join the No.1 Officer Cadet Training School at Poona on 26th July 1945, he from then on flew a desk, and on 10th February 1947 transferred to the Secretarial Branch as a Temporary Flight Lieutenant. Posted home, he briefly flew two flight in a Tiger Moth at Middle Wallop with No.62 Group of the Southern Reserve on 14th August 1947 in company with Wing Commander Sims on a staff visit, but was otherwise on ground duties. Having relinquished his wartime commission in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and then been commissioned as a Flying Officer in the Secretarial Branch of the Royal Air Force on 10th August 1948, he then saw service as a Flying Officer by relinquished his commission fully and retained the rank of Flight Lieutenant as of 24th August 1950.