Military Cross : Second Lieutenant A T Cole, No. 67 (Australian) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Palestine, Gaza
Accession Number REL40985.003
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Silver
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Military Cross (Geo V). Unnamed as issued.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of Group Captain Adrian Lindley Trevor 'King' Cole. Cole was born in Glen Iris, Victoria on 19 June 1895 and was educated at both Geelong and Melbourne Grammar Schools. He joined the Cadet Corps at the latter and became a member of the 1911 Australian Coronation Contingent. At the outbreak of the First World War Cole received a commission in the Australian Military Forces and served in 55 (Collingwood) Infantry with the rank of second lieutenant. He resigned his commission at the beginning of 1916 and joined the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) on 28 January. Embarking for overseas service aboard HMAT Orsova on 16 March, Cole disembarked at Suez on 14 April. Graduating as a flying officer on 7 November he began flying reconnaissance and scouting operations in support of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force's advance to Palestine.

Cole was promoted captain on 15 August 1917 and the next day was awarded the Military Cross for operations carried out over Gaza. His citation reads 'During the Gaza operations on 20 April 1917, a bomb raid of 6 enemy machines was observed approaching to attack our Cavalry. These two officers (Cole and Temporary Second Lieutenant R M Drummond) at once attacked the formation and so completely disorganized it that the bombs were dropped without aim, and in three cases not dropped at all. The engagement was continued until all 6 machines were forced to return to their lines. The skill and courage of both these officers has invariably been worthy of the greatest praise.' Cole was struck off strength 1 Squadron on 5 December and sailed for the United Kingdom. On arrival he was posted to 5 (Training) Squadron, AFC before embarking for the Western Front on 25 May 1918. Joining 2 Squadron, AFC Cole recorded nine victories between July and October and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions on 7 October during a low-flying raid east of Lille. He returned to Australia in March 1919 and his appointment in the AIF was terminated on 20 June.

On 31 March 1921 Cole accepted a permanent commission in the newly formed Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), becoming one of the RAAF's original founding officers. He was promoted group captain on 1 January 1935 and appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 11 May 1937. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Cole was Commanding Officer, RAAF Station Laverton and was placed in command of the newly formed 2 Group RAAF. He was promoted Temporary Air Commodore in December 1939 and in September 1941 was posted to the RAF's Western Desert Air Force, North Africa as Commanding Officer of 235 Wing.

Recalled to England in May 1942 to serve at Headquarters, 11 Group, Cole was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his gallantry as a Forward Air Controller aboard HMS Calpe during the Dieppe Raid of 19 August. Returning to Australia in May 1943, Cole was appointed Air Officer Commanding, North-Western Area, Darwin where he commanded offensive operations in the New Guinea campaign. By April 1944, Cole had 13 Squadron, RAAF under his command and was supporting amphibious operations against Hollandia and Aitape. In May as part of Operation Transom, he directed bombing from the North-Western Area to Surabaya in the occupied Dutch East Indies. Appointed Air Member for Personnel in October 1944, Cole left for Ceylon in January 1945 to assume the post of RAAF Liaison Officer on the staff of the Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia. Cole served in this role until the end of the war, and was Australia's senior representative at the formal Japanese surrender in Singapore on 12 September.

Cole retired from the RAAF in April 1946 with the rank of honorary air vice marshal. He died of chronic respiratory disease on 14 February 1966 in Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and after an air force funeral in the Anglican chapel, RAAF Station, Laverton, his body was interred in the family vault at Camperdown cemetery.