Interview with Colin Cole

Title

Interview with Colin Cole

Description

Colin Cole was brought up and schooled at Twickenham, and worked for a time at W H Smith before joining the Royal Air Force. He trained as a wireless operator/air gunner at RAF Yatesbury and RAF Barrow in Furness. He then served with 617 Squadron, stationed at RAF Woodhall Spa and took part in the sinking of the Tirpitz. He was also involved in a number of other operations during and immediately after the war, in particular Tiger Force, Operation Exodus, Operation Guzzle and the Cook’s Tours.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2015-08-24

Contributor

Julie Williams
Heather Hughes

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

01:17:44 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AColeC150727

Transcription

NM: This is Nigel Moore interviewing Colin Cole on the 27th of July. So, we’re at Colin’s address in, in -
Other: Willan House in Stainfield.
NM: Thank you very much. And Colin’s starting to look through a box of his, his photographs and other, other documents.
CC: Yes I’m just trying, I remember, I remember showing these you know
Other: ‘Cause there’s all sorts of
CC: Probably one of the oldest ones at Willan (?) and, yes.
Other: Take it out of the box Colin.
CC: Sorry?
Other: We’ll take out of this box the ones that are pertaining to the Lancaster like that one which is obviously a picture of you with it. Ok?
NM: So what we’ll do, in the end is I’ll inform the people at the Bomber Command Centre that all this documentation is available and if they want to scan it
Other: Yeah.
NM: They will contact Colin separately.
Other: Right.
NM: And they’ll be informed and we’ll get them to contact Colin directly.
Inaudible
NM: Is Colin’s logbook in there?
Other: No it’s in the safe.
NM: OK. It’s a very valuable document.
Other: That’s you with some twins. You carry on and I’ll have a quick look through and grab the ones
NM: Well no it’s going to make a noise and it’ll catch on the
Other: Oh right
NM: We need to sort of try and catch pure form of Colin’s voice. So what I suggest is that we conduct the interview.
Other: Do you want me to look through this at a separate time then?
NM: Yeah I think so.
Other: I think
NM: That might be better yes. I would, sort of trying to do it at random right now. ‘Cause what we’re trying to get is, is mostly Colin’s voice.
Other: Right.
NM: These, these recordings I know are very sensitive. We practice with them and you can pick up.
Other: In that case Colin we’ll go through these later on.
CC: Oh righto, yes. Ok.
Other: And I shall disappear.
NM: I wouldn’t mind looking at Colin’s logbook later if that’s alright.
Other: Right.
NM: But we’ll
Other: And we’ve got his medals and things like that as well.
NM: Yes I’d like to look at those as well, absolutely. I appreciate your help.
Other: I’ll leave that lot down there.
CC: Yeah ok.
NM: Right, so you’ve had lunch haven’t you Colin? Everything’s
Other: Yeah.
NM: Ready to
Other: Just waiting for the beach party this afternoon.
NM: Alright, thanks very much for your help.
Other: See you later. Call If you want anything, just press the yellow button.
NM: Ok. Oh right, fine, brilliant. Thank you very much indeed.
So, hello again Colin and thank you for seeing me again. Can you hear me all right?
CC: Just yeah.
NM: Ok I’ll speak up. What I’d, what I’d like to do
CC: Yes that’s better
NM: You’re ok with that? What I’d like to do Colin is, is ask you a series of very simple questions and you can just talk to me about your life, your experiences and just, just as, as you remember it. Is that alright? Are you happy to do that?
CC: Yes, if I can go back far enough [laughs].
NM: Well if you can brilliant. Ok, well, we’ll just, as it comes alright.
CC: Yes.
NM: So, so tell me a bit about your very early life up to the age of eighteen.
CC: Ahum.
NM: So what about your upbringing and childhood?
CC: Right. Let’s think now. What’s
[Pause]
CC: My upbringing and childhood as a, sort of, very young days, from what I can remember, this is going back, getting a bit old now isn’t it? It’s, yes what can I, what I can remember of it is that my father worked for WH Smith and Sons and which meant that we were, we were all up and running and the irons going and everything else. He had a pretty good job so it was that year and subsequent years, I mean we weren’t rich but I was quite well off you know. We had a comfortable childhood. And when I say an early life I mean, it’s life. We had breakfast at about seven o’clock in the morning you know because of his work, you know. He used to go and we had contacts with the railway which I suppose would be the, the most sort of idea of the, of my childhood you know.
So I had an interest in railways and all that sort of thing going, going to that. And childhood in those days, which in those days, was you know I had a good childhood. Sort of well brought up and, you know, tried to bring you up one thing and another and from that point of view, you know, it was a long time ago you see because I’m now what past my 101th birthday which, and you’re talking about an awful long time ago and the sort memories that, you know that, I did have memories of early train life ‘cause we went around various stations where he was manager and all that sort of thing and I wasn’t concerned with newspapers they were dull and mystery things. So, and had a jolly good time sort of looking at railways how they were formed and you know what they provided and all that sort of thing. I suppose that really was the early, it was not particularly connected with the RAF at all you know, sort of that was something which came along later I suppose you could say
NM: What about school days?
CC: Sorry
NM: What about school days? Your schooling?
CC: Schooling. I, I was at Twickenham. My dad was so, ‘cause I was as well cause we moved around various counties you know sort of and places and that but, yeah Twickenham was school time. Yes it was. I was more or less brought up in Twickenham so yeah it was just an ordinary sort of classroom membership at the time I suppose. Can’t think of anything else that I thought that was different from anybody else’s you know, sort of, learn the sort of tables and all that sort of thing, generally worked our way through to the various classrooms you know and that sort of thing and that was it you know.
NM: What age were you when you left school and what did you do straight after school?
CC: I, I, ages, age when I left school was a customary age was at fourteen, no fifteen. There was always
[background noises].
CC: [unclear]
NM: So Colin you were saying about leaving school at fifteen?
CC: [unclear] Fifteen [laughs]
NM: So what did you do after you left school?
CC: Yes and generally speaking at that time of the year you know, that time of my career such as it was you know sort of just had to take what everybody else took, you know, sort of. Oh dear, what can I say. Just, just really the usual customary schooling, you know. Sang the class tune in every class whatever it was, fourteen, fifteen, you know, so and, nothing very out of the ordinary.
NM: But after school when you left school, Colin, after, after you left aged fifteen what did you do?
CC: Well funnily for a short time I, one of the managers at WH Smith’s from London you know he persuaded Dad to enlist me in WH Smith and Sons so I had a job straightaway, you know. There was no question about that you know. I was always keen to get it right and keen for, to do the job right, you know, sort of thing and which made it easy going if you know what I mean, yeah. It was [unclear]. Now, when, I was trying to think when war started. 1940 was it?
[pause]
I can’t remember. Can you? [laugh]
NM: So tell me how you
CC: It’s a bit of a mix up you know, sort of. I don’t think anybody’s ever asked me that question before, any questions before and I’m afraid my memory’s not as good as it might be if you know what I mean. Sort of summarise and general sort of glance of it you know. Nobody’s really asked me anything about it you know.
NM: So tell me how you came to join the RAF?
CC: Ahh now of course aero, aeroplanes were new and, you know, exciting and all the rest of it, you know and yes I wanted to join the RAF and, and my father said well he wouldn’t stop me you know so, so really, I was trying to think now what I know I was, let me get this right when I was
[pause]
I was eighteen I think when I first joined or put in to join the RAF. Went for examination and one thing and another, both physical and, sort of, more physical than anything else I suppose you know sort of to see if I was fit you know. I had a two day sort of what’s the name to sort of make sure I was ok you know and one thing and another and yes got the ok and that was it. Oh what did the, what, dear oh dear [laughs] funny isn’t it when you go to go back you know.
[pause]
All I can really say I suppose was there was, there was always a job available you know, sort of thing which was what my parents wanted to make sure that I’d got, you know, you have pay from a very early age you know a few pence a week sort of keep going and one thing and another like that and I was just quite happy about it and just feet up you know and there wasn’t much else I can say outstanding.
NM: So when you, when you joined the RAF how did you go into the wireless operator/air gunner route as opposed to any of the other routes. Tell me a little about that.
CC: That, the wireless operator/air gun, well not the air gunner bit because that fell in to the, I was keener at doing the wireless bit. If you went in for a wireless operator you always had - there was always wireless operator stroke air gunner, because if you look at the setup of the crew, and one thing and another the wireless operator was farther back as, as any of the crew but from the pilot and that would be, and they, it was the wireless operator that took over from the air gunner if he was shot down or shot at that sort of thing. So it was really the wireless operator that I was, I was keen on.
The reason of going in for that I suppose really would be that I thought if it was sort of idealistic move you know that if you could do Morse, Morse code and one thing and another and oh and in the first place I joined the, what was the
[pause]
What oh dear trying to think of the word now, joined as a - you know - oh a cadet. You sort of, you had a peacetime job and you had a part in the RAF, you know, that you could take part in, you know, which gave you a better chance of getting into the RAF that you wouldn’t normally have got, you know. And we had a chappie that was he, he was retired then and he took tuition over to cadets you know and was talking and teaching them and that sort of thing and he was a master well mastermind in - what’s the name - you know, sort of, what’s the name of, what’s the name, Morse code you know and the thing I can remember mostly was that I sat in that, sat in that hearing him doing Morse code you know and he was trying to see, to sort of teach people Morse and that sort of thing and I can always think oh I can do that you know. I don’t know why but anyway I thought I could do and it turned out that I could, you know. I easily learned Morse code and one thing and another and I was keen you know on doing that sort of thing. And naturally when I was what eighteen and called up, sort of permanent RAF, went in for sort of wireless operator which I got, you know.
There was a quite lot of what shall we say you know you had quite a job to get into the RAF then. There was a lot of, all the kids used to, you know, it was always like wow sort of (cough) pardon me. You know, you was in the RAF and could fly an aircraft and all that sort of thing which was always new about that time and you know not everyday sort of stuff and, you know, you were looked at. That’s how I got in the RAF. You know, went in for examinations and all that and passed that and it was just a job you know and that’s how I got in the RAF.
NM: Tell me a little bit about the training you had to go through before you went operational. What was your training like?
CC: Well then you, then you went into training once they accepted you. You had a preliminary course which we did nothing else but you stood to attention and stood at ease and all, all the, I don’t know, the job and one thing and another. You didn’t start doing Morse code although I could do it, you know, sort of thing, since I was - the fact that I could do it made absolutely sure that you know I could get it you know but that didn’t come to the second half of the, when they started. Then they, you took the wireless set oh you know sort of a tin box thing you know, sort of thing. I’m talking now, from what I can remember, you know, sort of thing it’s, it’s long, long since this is and yeah got three, it was a three month course which I passed, passed quite easily you know and, sort of and then once you passed the ground staff they wanted me to, one thing I do remember they wanted me to stay in the RAF but the chappie that was teaching all this stuff coming through which I was at, where was I at the time, I’m trying to think. I was around the, oh – Yatesbury that was, there was a big tour at Yatesbury - would I like to stay on as, as an instructor you see, So, which, no I wouldn’t, I wanted to fly in the end, you know so I turned that down and then they sent you, the thing at Yatesbury was like a two sided thing you know if they wanted you as air crew you went along one side and if ground crew you went on the other. So I got on aircrew and just went on and trained on and on you know.
I can’t think of anything of, [pause] nothing’s, nothing sort of I could really talk about. It was all straightforward you know. Take it from there onwards, you know. The difficult things was up until then had a memory in the head you know and that was it you know sort of joining the RAF and end of story you know and got one or two bits and pieces and I tried to remember I’m sure I missed some but
NM: How far into your training did you meet your crew? At what point in your training did you meet your crew?
CC: What trying sorry.
NM: At what point did you meet up with the rest of your crew? John Leavitt and the rest of your crew?
CC: Oh right, John Leavitt and, and crew yeah. Where did we, (pause) well I guess [pause] I know they made up crews over there , now then [pause], [laughs] have a biscuit [laughs]
[pause]
CC: I’m trying to [unclear]
[pause]
CC: Yeah the thing that I do remember that was different if you like, as I say, was we formed up with a crew and John Leavitt was American. He’d been, he was older then we were you know. Two or three, four years older than what we were as normally pilots would be you know and so we - I was trying to think where we were sort of formed up as a crew.
[pause]
Do you know, I can’t really think. Nobody’s ever asked me these question before. It’s one of those things that, you know, what do you tell somebody well not what tell them what do you tell the truth yeah that’s what I want to try and do. Oh dear.
NM: Can you tell me something about the rest of your, the rest of the crew?
CC: Well the rest of the crew well yeah we, there were two gunners posted. Rear gunner and the, and the mid upper gunner they who we who have we got, we’ve got
[pause]
There was what, seven of us altogether wasn’t there? There was two gunners, myself as wireless operator we were called wireless operator/air gunner because we, we first of all had to take a sort of short flying trip you know as a sort of be able to shoot down somebody else which I never used. We never had any trouble with losing a member of the crew or anything like that you know it was quite straight, more or less straightforward, you know.
[pause]
What else can I tell you?
[Pause]
CC: You see we didn’t run into any particular trouble.
NM: So
CC: So it’s all rather
NM: So after you were crewed up you were posted to 617.
CC: 617 at
NM: Squadron
CC: Yeah. What’s the name of it? Yeah, see now where
NM: Tell me a little about life on 617 at Woodhall Spa.
CC: Err
NM: What was life like?
CC: I was at Woodhall Spa yes.
NM: So tell me about squadron life?
CC: Tell you about?
NM: What was your experience of serving with 617 squadron at Woodhall Spa? Just tell me what you remember.
CC: Well I sort of remember, you know, sort of meeting with the lads that I hadn’t met before, you know, one thing and, oh dear.
[pause]
I’m trying to think if there was something different and there wasn’t really. It was, you know, sort of quite straightforward and we got along alright together if you know what I mean. We didn’t see much of the gunners (?) until we went on ops you know and
[pause]
CC: That sort of, putting on operation, that’s when you sort of formed up at Woodhall Spa if you know what I mean, you know. Nothing, nothing outstanding you know sort of thing and
[pause]
CC: And we, we never, once we were a flying team if you like call it that you know it was, it was nothing untoward about it you know. We were sort of flying on operations, you know so.
NM: So what operations can you remember?
CC: I remember, well I was, well of course I remember Tirpitz operation of course
NM: Tell me about that.
[pause]
CC: From what I remember about the Tirpitz operation it was we, it was a very long trip on a Sunday morning that when, well we had one or two goes at that you know, sort of thing. The final one - we sort of, sort of, what can I say about it. Now once we’d flown over, dropped the bombs and away for home as quick as you can you know sort of thing [cough] but and we were just passing over the - just dropped bombs and one thing I can remember and others would remember as well that our rear gunner, he’d gone to the back of the plane you see ‘cause normally when, when we took the final run over the operating aircraft or forward of the aircraft he came towards the front you know sort of anyway he ran over the back of it and he, because it was a special op he kept an eye on the what’s the, on the operation and we, we all remember him saying that he was looking down and he says “Oh” he says, used to call him skipper, always called the pilot, “Oh skip” he said “We’ve hit the bugg, hit the” and everybody cheered [laughs] so I thank God for that sort of, you know and that was that, you know. I remember that part.
[pause]
CC: There was one other I can’t remember where it was when we went to it, we were only talking about it the other week you know, sort of, I’m trying to remember the name of the place we went to. It was in the Baltic, you know, in that area. And what was I going to say about it? Oh it took place on the, on the 13th of April and I said oh this is [laughs] oh we didn’t do anything with it because it clouded over you know, kind of thing but we went on the op you know and had a look at it and one thing and another I did remark that it was my twenty first birthday. Nothing very exciting. I thought it was for me but, you know
[pause]
There really wasn’t anything sort of very exciting about the whole thing, you know. Nobody was shot down or anything like that, you know.
[pause]
I can’t think of anything else.
NM: Was the
CC: I’d rather leave the questions to you.
NM: That’s fine. That’s what I’m here for Colin.
CC: Yes.
NM: When you served on 617 did it feel like a special squadron to you? Did it feel like a main line, main force squadron?
CC: It just felt like a main line you know sort of thing you know. Nothing you know, nothing, nothing particularly special. I mean, in all the, all the operations we took part on that were sort of special if you know what I mean, you know. We realised that, you know, so, but not really, no. 617 was, I probably couldn’t have told you then what the squadron number was if you know what I mean, you know, sort of thing but it didn’t have a particular ring about it, you know. Sort of, just, yes 617 squadron which just happened to be 617 I think, you know.
NM: The fact they trusted you with bombs like Tallboy and Grand Slam - did it feel different to any of the other squadrons?
CC: Oh what they, when they, sort of aye they did, did carry the extra bomb wasn’t it? That was right yes. Took it all in its, all in its day you know. Never thought of it as anything very special if you know what I mean. You know, just another wartime thing that had gone on if you know what I mean, you know, that sort of -nothing, nothing very special about - there was a, when I get hold of the air book there was - I mean there was a date in there that I can’t remember what it was now but nothing particularly special. No, not really ‘cause we weren’t shot down or anything like that you know. We were
[pause]
CC: No, can’t think of anything that’s
NM: What was it, what was it like as an NCO rather than an officer? ‘Cause the officers were all at the Petwood but what was it like for you as an NCO on Woodhall Spa?
CC: Well the funny part was that, that we only saw the officers on operations. There was, you know, like they were sort of, [unclear] what’s the name quartered in the quarters, you know, sort of thing and we, we were the bottom end of 617 squadron if you know what I - nobody bothered, sort of thing. All our nights out were always NCOs and all that sort of thing, you know, sort of thing. Very, only very, very seldom - I think one was at the beginning - one was at the, one of them, the war was, we went and had a few pints on the fact the war was over you know, sort of thing like that and we all went together, you know. It was the most unusual thing of the, of the lot, you know. They used to do their own thing and we used to do our own thing. We used to go into sort of various civilian places and you know sort of do them, them bits and pieces out of duty if you know what I mean, yeah. I can’t think of anything very exciting you know. I was trying to, you know, I was trying to
NM: So how about after, after the war finished and, what happened to 617 and you at that point?
CC: So we more or less, apart from when we met up to either do a practice operation or something like that did we see everybody, you know. It was just [pause] sorry. No one has ever asked me before and I can’t think of anything that was, there was nothing very exciting about it.
NM: Tell me a little about the Tiger Force.
CC: Oh the Tiger Force. Yeah well of course that was special you know. That, if there was one thing I did do funnily enough that somebody grabbed the, sort of, the photographs of that. While we were flying out to the east you know, sort of thing I had a camera, only a sort of little camera you know, sort of Browning type of thing, nothing, nothing very, I took photographs of one thing and another and they are or I hope they still are, but they were in this went in sort of talked about very much later and they were, what was I going to say. I’ve forgotten what I was going to say now. Blast. Nothing, nothing very sort of special except that was, I think I gave them to the, let’s see where were we assigned [?] where? Can’t even
[pause]
CC: I’m trying to think
[pause]
CC: No can’t think I shall have to try and think about that so
NM: Can you remember what you, can you remember where you were posted when you came back from India when the Tiger Force was deployed back to the UK. What happened after that?
CC: We ended back in the slippery slopes of Cornwall actually, you know and then formed up together, you know sort of, I’m trying to think what we did next. It’s almost a question of sort of detaching the crew altogether you know. ‘Cause I think, I say that because I think from what I can recall as it had is that I thought, you know, this would be the end of us, the old form of the 617 you know, sort of, crew if you like yeah and took some pictures of it and you know and made a little write up and that. And that, it’s hanging in if you like, sort of around somewhere or other. God know where but it was brought up, where did I give it to, one of the RAF stations you know so that should still be there. Should be a sort of, ‘cause I think they made quite a thing of it sort of photographs of where we landed and where we took off and all that sort of thing. I don’t know where it is now. It should, should be alright. Is there anything? Have you come across anything or you haven’t?
NM: I’m sure someone will know.
CC: Sorry
NM: I’m sure someone will know where that is.
CC: Well they ought to. Yes, so.
NM: Were you in, I understood you were involved in the disposal of the old upkeep Dambuster mines. Can you tell me?
CC: Oh yes
NM: Something about that?
CC: I was in a different station. I was called in to, they formed up a crew you know, to get, now what did they, oh dear. I’ve got all these things you know ticking about in my mind but when it comes down to putting them into – I can’t [cough] I can’t think of them. Yes we were sort of recalled and, you know after the coming back from India, you know, sort of thing, we were recalled and then you know disposing of the mines weren’t there, sort of. That’s one of things that we just did and end of story if you know what I mean, I’m afraid.
NM: So what happened to you? What did you do with your, after you left the RAF? At what point did you leave the RAF?
CC: Now when did I leave the RAF? Well generally speaking going, going back to civvy life you know. Nothing more, nothing less you know so I worked for the [pause], all I can remember you know when I went back to civvy life and onwards like that was that I picked out or I found out that if you worked for government place of any sort they paid your, oh my God I can’t remember, pension that’s what I was trying to think. They paid your pension and I thought oh you know sort of if I kept on till pensionable age you know and that would help to retirement which it did you know tremendously so you know very much so. I’ve never paid anything else since [laughs]. Oh dear, yeah.
NM: So you worked for the local government or council?
CC: Local government. The council. Then for some reason, I can’t remember why or how it was, I became clerk to the council of - cause I was living at, I was living at Waddington then I became clerk of the council at Waddington Parish Council. I was there for quite a long time you know. Yeah. What happened after then you know, for the life of me nothing of, sort of nothing to report on. Nothing at all that was
NM: Did you keep in touch with your crew at all after the war?
CC: Yes we did for, ‘cause I went, when our skipper died which was only, not so, not so long ago you know, sort of, well don’t know how much now but time marches on doesn’t it but yes we did in parts you know but we never really sort of got together as a crew if you know what I mean, you know, sort of. It’s all very misty that one is [laughs].
NM: You were very heavily involved with the Lincolnshire Lancaster Association weren’t you?
CC: Ahh yes.
NM: Tell me.
CC: Yes, yes, yeah, yes.
[pause]
I think that was all part of parcel of sort of keeping the connection going if you know what I mean, you know, sort of.
[pause]
I don’t know whether it did any, anything to keep it going but, because I often still, when I say recently I mean alright a few years have gone passed now and since the starting years that yes that was one of the things that did keep going. I was secretary to the Lincolnshire Lancaster Association for quite some, that, and then that became for some reason just couldn’t tell you why [unclear] associate sort of thing you know but it’s just all these things kept trying along, you know. When somebody asked me and nobody ever has you know apart from, I mean, I suppose that up to in inverted commas quite recently the, you know the chairman, you know we used to keep in touch with one another and one thing and another [unclear] died now died recently but apart from that that was it, you know. So of certainly until [unclear] asked questions about it I thought the thing had sort of died and [laughs]
NM: When you, when you look back on your time at Bomber
CC: [cough] sorry [cough]
NM: Are you alright
[cough]
[pause]
CC: Pass me that [cough]
[pause]
Sorry about that. I wasn’t
NM: Don’t worry. Don’t worry
CC: Talking a lot
NM: We’ll stop in just a minute.
[pause]
CC: That’s better
[pause]
CC: Sorry What, what was the last question?
NM: I was wondering what your thoughts are when you look back on your time at Bomber Command. What are your reflections?
CC: Nothing, nothing anything particular, you know. Had to be done [cough] Oh blast. No. Took it on as part and parcel as life’s, you know. A lot of it’s, I suppose, took on, you know, I really took it on sort of well thinking about what I did through the years was really what was concerned with the war and when there wasn’t the war and all that sort of thing, you know and it was that that was leading from one sort paragraph to another if you know what I mean. Yeah.
[pause]
CC: Yeah can’t think of anything else.
NM: How do you think Bomber Command has been treated since the war?
CC: Sorry
NM: How do you think Bomber Command has been treated since the war?
CC: Oh [pause] I’ve never really thought of anything in particular you know. It was just the sort of [unclear] what they wouldn’t have done today and then tomorrow and yesterday and, you know sort of just formed and reformed and put this and put that and that just, just things that just suited them you know. I suppose there must have been things that, I can’t remember any you know, that they did or didn’t do or this that and the other. Just took them for granted that it was it’s what you get when you’re in a certain position sort of plays around with, you know.
NM: Ok Colin thanks very much we’ll
CC: I’m sorry.
NM: Shall we, shall we’ll leave it there. No, that’s absolutely fine.
CC: Yeah. Nobody, nobody’s ever really asked me before you know. I suppose when I’m in bed tonight I shall think of all sorts of things. Well I don’t think I will. You know, oh dear, I’d have liked to have been a bit more precise but I don’t really know [unclear].
[pause]
[unclear]
NM: Can you say that again Colin.
Other: What did you qualify for Colin?
NM: What did you just say Colin?
CC: The naval quite a recent one though. The naval star. Running up to the North Pole and all that sort of thing.
NM: Oh the arctic convoys.
CC: Arctic convoys. Yeah
NM: And you qualified for that because?
CC: Yes I have.
NM: Because of the Tirpitz raid?
CC: Because of the Tirpitz well mainly because of the Tirpitz raid yes
Other: The Arctic Star
CC: Yeah
NM: So you qualified for the Arctic Star because of the raid on the Tirpitz?
[pause]
NM: So you joined in 1942 at Yatesbury.
CC: Oh yes, yes I went to the flying
NM: Yeah
CC: ‘Cause they wouldn’t have us, from what I remember we wouldn’t have a flying logbook of course until we started flying
NM: So Yatesbury. Barrow in Furness.
CC: Oh Barrow in Furness yes we did a gunnery course in Barrow in Furness.
NM: Market Harborough.
CC: Market Harborough and that was what was it [unclear] one of the train for aircrew, yes. Yes.
NM: That’s where you met up with John Leavitt?
CC: Yes
NM: John Leavitt.
CC: Yes it would be, yeah.
NM: Flying Wellingtons.
[pause]
CC: That was, that what’s its name has been kicked around well not kicked around ‘cause I used to keep it in the box on the hall of the house on the, you know sort of.
[pause]
CC: I kept them close. I didn’t think there would be other but other people were worried about it and I could understand that really because I understand they fetch a lot of money you see. Whatever they are you know [laughs].
NM: There was, so that was your first operation.
CC: Sorry?
NM: That was your first operation.
CC: Oh yes it was [laughs].
NM: The Tirpitz raid.
CC: Yes [laughs]
NM: Thirteen hours. Can you remember any other of your operations?
CC: I can’t just one or two odd ones. The funny part was that we, you see because there was that one and then the ones in between weren’t all that in number because we used to have to train for a lot of them you know.
[pause]
NM: Here’s the one on your 21st birthday.
CC: Sorry?
NM: Here’s the one on your 21st birthday. It was Lutz.
CC: Oh yes, Lutzow. Lutzow, that’s right.
NM: And you didn’t fly with John Leavitt that day you drove, you flew with Flight Lieutenant Price
CC: Oh there were probably other people as well of course ahum. Yeah there was that sort of officers
[pause]
I would probably go with some with quite a number probably you know.
NM: I see you took part in Exodus, the
CC: Sorry?
NM: I see you took part in Operation Exodus to recover prisoners of war.
CC: Oh yes there was that as well ahum.
[pause]
CC: You know I forgot about, well not forgotten about but at the back of my mind.
NM: Can you remember what the prisoners of war how they reacted when they saw you or were being flown home by you?
CC: I can’t actually no. I think they were, were the most had had enough of it, you know and were glad to get back.
NM: What about the Cooks tours. Did you take some of the ground crew?
CC: What was?
NM: Did you take some of the ground crews on some of the Cooks tours of some the targets?
CC: Oh Cooks tours.
NM: Yeah
CC: Oh yeah we used to go on those didn’t we yes.
NM: Can’t remember too much about it?
[pause]
CC: No. If somebody was going to come along twenty thirty forty years later you’d more write a journal wouldn’t you. It was more or less a blinking nuisance, you know
[pause]
I’m not trying to hide anything it was just a blooming nuisance. Having to lock up a log book up oh
[pause]
NM: So Operation Guzzle. Is that when you had to dispose of the Dams mines?
CC: Operation?
NM: Guzzle?
CC: Yes it was. Ahum.
NM: Ok.
CC: Aye Guzzle ahum.

Collection

Citation

Nigel Moore, “Interview with Colin Cole,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed August 21, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/1566.

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