Distinguished Flying Cross : Captain A T Cole, No 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille
Accession Number REL40985.004
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Silver
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1919
Conflict Period 1910-1919
First World War, 1914-1918

Distinguished Flying Cross. Engraved reverse with recipient's details.

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. He 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 in February 1919. His citation reads 'No. 2 AFC led by Captain COLE left the aerodrome at 5.45 on the 7th October 1918 and carried out a most successful low-flying raid upon the railway lines and stations to the East of LILLE. The success of the attack was largely due to the cool and determined leadership of Capt. A.T. COLE and I attribute the lack of casualties in the raiding party (only 1 officer being slightly wounded) to the methodical manner in which Captain COLE collected and re-organised the machines after the raid, leading them back to the lines in formation at low altitude. Captain COLE himself attacked a Goods train from 100 ft., and secured a direct hit with one of his bombs on the engine. Later he attacked a Pullman train full of enemy troops, dropping his bomb from 200 ft; he then attacked the troops who were pouring out of the train with machine gun fire, causing a very large number of casualties. While circling round noting the progress and results of the raid he observed a large farm with the courtyard full of transport, horses and troops. Diving, he dropped his final bomb which burst in the centre of the yard. While waiting for the other machines to complete their work, he fired at and silenced a number of Flaming Onion and AA batteries, machine gun posts, etc.'

Cole's appointment in the AIF was terminated on 20 June 1919. On 31 March 1921 he accepted a permanent commission in the newly formed RAAF, becoming one of the service'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 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. 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. 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 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 in February 1966.