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Coles, William Edward

Date of birth:
July 26th, 1913 (Banbury/Oxfordshire, Great Britain)
Date of death:
June 7th, 1979
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

Service number 41379.

Promotions:
Acting Pilot Officer probation) December 14th, 1938
Pilot Officer (probation): September 3th, 1939
Pilot Officer: October 6th, 1939
Flying Officer (war sub): September 3th, 1940
Flight Lieutenant (war sub): September 3th, 1941
Acting Squadron Leader: 1942
Acting Wing Commander: March 30th, 1943
Squadron Leader (war sub): September 30th, 1943
Squadron Leader: March 26th, 1946
Wing Commander: July 1st, 1947
Group Captain: July 1st, 1952
Act Air Commodore: December 16th, 1957
Air Commodore: July 1st, 1958
Acting Air Vice-Marshal: December 15th, 1960
Air Vice-Marshal: January 1st, 1961
Acting Air Marshal: May 18th, 1966
Air Marshal: July 1st, 1966

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Flight Lieutenant
Unit:
No. 216 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Awarded on:
April 7th, 1942
Citation:
"On November 29th, 1941, this officer was the captain of one of three aircraft which carried important personnel from advanced air headquarters to Tobruk. The area was surounded by enemy ground forces. When Fit. Lt. Coles arrived in the vicinity of Tobruk an enemy bombing raid was in progress. The whole of the defences were firing, but Fit. Lt. Coles, realising the importance of his mission, courageously flew through the defences and made a safe landing. Enemy aircraft, whose pilots had observed the illuminated flare path, attempted to destroy his aircraft on the ground, but, having accomplished his mission. Fit. Lt. Coles took off in the dark and flew back to base, thus saving his aircraft. Throughout he displayed great courage and determination."
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Acting Wing Commander
Awarded on:
January 1st, 1944
Air Force Cross
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Acting Wing Commander
Awarded on:
June 30th, 1944
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Acting Wing Commander
Unit:
No. 117 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Awarded on:
November 14th, 1944
Citation:
"This officer has successfully completed many hazardous missions despite ground opposition, adverse weather and terrain. His leadership and courage have plaved a major part in the splendid work of his squadron. The operations have involved dropping supplies mainly by night under enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. On one occasion, in May, 1944. he was called upon to land by night on a strip 700 yards long on soft ricefields, to evacuate serious casualties. Heavy rain squalls completely drenched the strip. Wing Cdr. Coles displayed superb airmanship in taking off his aircraft under such difficult circumstances and returned safely to base with twelve of the most serious cases."

Second DFC awarded as a bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC.
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Acting Wing Commander
Unit:
No. 233 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Awarded on:
February 2nd, 1945
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Citation:
"This officer has displayed high qualities of leadership, great skill and courage in operations against the enemy. In September, 1944, he led the squadron on several supply dropping missions to our forces in the neighbourhood of Arnhem. On one occasion, whilst over the dropping zone his aircraft sustained severe damage and became difficult to control. In spite of this Wing Commander Cole made a second run over the target to release the remainder of his containers. He afterwards flew the badly damaged aircraft to base. He displayed superb skill and .great personal courage.

Sources

  • - Third Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 35514 published on the 3 April 1942
    - Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 36309 published on the 31 December 1943
    - Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 36589 published on the 27 June 1944
    - Third Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 36793 published on the 10 November 1944
    - Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 36920 published on the 30 January 1945
    - Flight Global - Archive
    - Air of Authority

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