Interview with Frederick Cole


Interview with Frederick Cole


Frederick Cole grew up in Derby and was studying for a degree when he joined the Royal Air Force. He met his wife at an RAF dance during the war. He completed his degree after the war and had a career with Rolls Royce.







00:37:35 audio recording


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PL: Right ok, my name is Pam Locker and I am in the home of Mr Frederick Cole of ***. So, if I can just start by saying thank you very much indeed on behalf of the Bomber Command Memorial for agreeing to give us this interview. So Mr Cole if you would just like to start wherever you would like to start.
FC: Yes, welcome to my world, I've been a very very proud man and very lucky that I can say what I am going to say. Now it starts off when I, my first memory in fact when I was a child, they called me Teddy I suppose like a teddy bear of something or other but that goes back to 1922 when I was, my Father was then a lecturer at Derby technical college and we'd gone down on the motorcycle and sidecar to help his friend, also a lecturer whose bungalow backed onto the sea. I remember my Father up on top of the roof right then it's a blank a complete blank. And then I was living in a council house in Uttoxeter Road Derby and that's where the life really started to uproot and come out and surround everything I touched and thought of and my memory starts flashing about and I always recall discovering what the world was about, the invisible tentacles that encircle so many facets of life and memories to cherish throughout the life but going into more serious main, some of the early experiences are flooding back....I won't go into all that detail they are far too long and the loss is embodied in the stories which I have already prepared which are available elsewhere. I would like to go to.........Derby right where I so many deep rooted memories, many delightful beyond repeat, many exciting endeavour to knock you off your seat and i go then into the first days at school and learning teachings I'm learning as others have accumulated and at school in days when educational standard were clear and easy to understand and not influenced by external things I remember early morning prayers and one hour a week scriptures and I was a Christian, Jesus meant the world to be, and wherever I had been whatever I had done I never ever needed to be prompted or reminded right despite all the pomp and glory that now heist behold the world, now religion to me it is a disgrace right, I go back, and then I think my formative years as long as I stayed at school [you would get a trick] and a trick would automatically mean you would have to take a degree it was that consequence that really held me back from getting into the Air Force because I otherwise would have done because I had to start studying for a degree and in fact I was studying a Bachelor of Commerce degree then the brigade, the Air force was in the background I was going in and listening to lectures and that had to continue until I had the results come through and as soon as the results came through I must have almost immediately in fact I was packing a bag and getting ready for a journey which i just couldn't get a hold of what was going on it became an integrable spiders web right, and I remember saying goodbye and boarding a train to a hotel alone not far from Lord's Cricket ground there the reality of life became clear being equipped with the uniform and everything that went with it right, and that's when you start the learn a few lessons and listen and think because, I clearly remember things you get from instinct I full of enthusiasm I remember we used to march down to London Zoo and were fed in the visitors dining room which was obviously were all the monkeys were, and I always remember thinking they must have had a damn good laugh watching us queue right these sort of things stick in your memory apart from that the other thing that you see the the difference in the makeup of people the very strong highly well to do ones were the ones that would collapse when given the chance right, and I always remember in my enthusiastic removing of a mark off the wall and then having have to clean the whole bloody wall right, these sort of infiltrations enter your mind and err that sort of thing it's like in a centre of a spider's web right, and I being near, one of my relatives, one of my father's sisters I remember as Auntie Lynn, I thought I'll take the opportunity and I'll get on the tube and say hello right, but when I got there and saw them the two gits they called boys I immediately said to myself never ever again will I do that! Go and stick my neck out, no stop and that was the life and every time something transpired I would thread, I’d get into this web and trying to probe forward to another time and as time moved on transitions immediately came to being, the one thing i remember so well is the term religion. Religion has ceased to have the meaning it used to have right, it was a title give to what I call a load of self made groups pursuing their own ideals many playing on fear or jealousy and anything to make life something they seize for their own image as to what they want to do, that was to me a gross distortion and influenced every move that I made thereafter and I err then spread my wings going into the more [inaudible] my instincts I enjoyed, I was the first to do a solo in the Tiger Moth right, but I dropped I cod because of this wonderful lad and i didn't think I should waste the petrol right at the end, nonetheless I finished that and I ended up and this is where the memory dries up, and after there I [pause] that is where you get confused it was after flying training, yes because I was through first I had about three weeks leave of absence before then reporting down to official training I think at Newquay right, I remember we used to have lectures on flights and also medical checks right, and all that sort of thing. I was a loner, I didn't go drinking or anything like that but on occasion when they had a dance that was a school I had a dance which was to be the most famous dance with a girl right and the dance was called the Anniversary waltz afterward said goodnight and I went my way and she was with a gang who went their way so these things have memories, but in those moments I would walk around, look around my mind would always be ticking away seeking something i never saw what but i knew somewhere there was an invisible intangible lot of communication right, reaching every part of my brain wherever and it’s intriguing to me that and everything else and later when I finished my career in the RAF and I had a wonderful time doing so many different things as so often when I'm free I would be stopped from going with silver wings and bomber force behind you right there would have been a commotion but I'm very proud of that and i was asked to join another special flight at Marham, where they were into taking all the goodwill flights anywhere in the world after the atomic bomb had eliminated the tiger force. But despite all the prevailing I then had my son, right and a degree which I would finish which would take another two years but in that time as you have seen by my stories that precede this my wife brought a fuss?, and all these distractions in all this time .... all intermingling and mixing into one channel was then I got, passed the degree that I got Rolls Royce where had already being accepted subject to passing my degree and again the strings, the invisible strings that surround us life what do I find my placement at Rolls Royce is straight into the engineering side of life and have all the books, stories concerning entered development and I used to after a while take down the minutes of all the development engineering meetings held every Monday at Three O'clock Lord Hiest? was once in the chair and I remember him looking at me as i had just picking up the flow ‘who the hell is he’ to me it was a start of a very complex detailed career because I used to write the minutes of everything that was said but to do that properly again it was a matter of making sure the individual's comments i was setting out really intended what any impression was, the way it was worded and very often I enjoyed them slightly different wording to to making the purpose and the significance more appropriate to the problem in that way I raised through the ranks I knew all the time spend I was present when the original five bedstead was taken into the air. Wing commander Hayworth tethered you of course and I used to take a hundred engineers who I had trained and refined to Farnborough the technician of their day every year again a stimulating experience which inetrmiglied with the aspects and the relationship in practise between the air force and processes and the one now with industry. There was a big difference in the sense that in the air force with the kings recreation and the ap3 or a3 something anyone with a commision knew what that they should do, could do shouldn’t do could do....right I wanted to finish off my career right and I really retired myself from the raf because everything was been done to prevent my departure, but I stuck my neck out an intriguing way again an unplanned by product but a wonderful way I could not find the sort of job you used to have to fill in the absence of the five pound a week grant from the Air force and I couldn’t find anywhere locally which is for the tax office or whatever so i went down to Hereford and tried down there and it was very much the same but I knew Hereford very well from my RAF career excetra , [pause] and ah yes I did eventually get work to give me the five pounds a week it was a drivers mate with Bulmers cider and I think it was forty five when was with Bulmers cider, a younger driver an ex-paratrooper with this lorry loaded with the,,,arr i was learning the re experience of how other people think how mother nature again brings back an intrex right and I find with myself again embodied in these tentacles of experience and understanding how wonderful and it was the best form of training I could have possible have in the light of the career that was to follow in the managerial status at Rolls Royce so there right from the word go you have these tentacles and as long as they all stay together they all fuse into one and go on and on and on and now I reached the point where I don’t think I want to get any further any deeper involved than I am now I am right I know my numbers nearly up, right and when I look at things and plan there's one thing that’s clear the build up from my first memory that I've always had their intangible invisible threads running right back through a system and everything back to where it all started. I have already said for me religion, with all the pomp and circumstance and the guilt through their interaction being accountable for more deaths per day than any other combined source as far as I am concerned so I bid the world goodbye and as I roll together all of the courses that have been there, roll them all together right together i then just to lay there i just...and simply with a hand pull up a blanket and I bid goodbye, I won’t be long and when I die I want no pomp and ceremony but I would want two songs to be sung the ' We'll meet again' which used to be what I used to write on the bottom of letters to my wife when I went off on a mission when I didn't expect to come back and the second 'The Anniversary Waltz' which you already know having been told about which aculminated in the culmination of my dearest wife the most precious treasured woman that a world has ever had. with that I say now goodbye goodbye and Dorothy dear we will be together again, it won't be long. I want my ashes to be stirred up with your ashes that are over there, shaken and then scattered around the cottage in North Wales where we spent so many happy later years or Tenerife in Los Cantes by the cliffs again for the same reason, whichever will be ...that’s all I ask I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.
PL : Please don’t apologise.
FC: There's column right a memorial stone and all that I have said and felt and thought what I would like to think is embodied within and the intention of my part to feel the community spirit again, this time through, and that’s all I have to say.
PL: Thank you very much Mr Coles for sharing your thoughts with us, they are very precious.
FC: So many memorabilia, Rolls Royce and other things the Lancaster books and the history of the RB211 over there and many more memorabilia and and nearly all this you see here was presented at me at various stages, and various activities which I chaired I used to have it all everywhere, and now it’s not really seen but there’s inscriptions on the base of most of them.
PL: Wonderful
FC: The turbines we used to use but now...I used to clean it all...
Pl: Hard work!



Pam Locker, “Interview with Frederick Cole,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 15, 2024,

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