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The Voyage Overseas

Heroes Remember

Very high morale, very confident, enthusiastic, but still I think to a man, still feeling a bit green and not really knowing what lay ahead of us. But prepared. And I think this, of course, would be primarily due to our instruction, our training, regimenting, if you will. I think that we were prepared in so far as it was possible to be prepared, not having experienced the real thing. But we were ready to do that. I went overseas on the Aquitania, which I think at that time was probably the third largest ship on the water. We were 21 days, travelled alone; no convoy. The Queen Mary, the Mauritania, and the Aquitania, there were three really large troop ships, and they were considered quite fast so they could out run a wolf pack, if there was a wolf pack of submarines around. Fortunately we did. And I must admit that the voyage itself was quite a thing for me because when we left from Halifax, when we got out probably a hundred miles east of Newfoundland, we turned south and we spent a week or ten days in the tropics, which was glorious. But then of course when we reached the other side, we decided to go north again to go up past the coast of France, well-off, of course. Finally, through the Irish Sea and into Liverpool. But I remember some of the chaps were quite sea sick. In fact, we had about 15 or 16 thousand troops on it and I think 17 thousand of those were sea sick. I remember saying to one guy one time "Is the first mate up?" And he said "If I ate him, he is." And there was another guy, a wit from, now I won't name the community, but it was a community in eastern Newfoundland where everybody is witty, he said "Boys, the best trip I ever had in my life. Eat six meals a day: three down, three up." But when we landed in Liverpool, I must admit we were greeted... And I hadn't been sea sick. I was very, very fortunate. But most of us must have looked a very sorry lot because I remember hearing an old dockie, a long-shore man on dockside say "If this is what they have to offer, thank god for the navy." So we were not all together impressed as apparently they were not impressed.

Mr. Cole describes what it was like to prepare for and to go overseas. He describes the morale of his comrades.

Raymond Boyd Cole

Raymond Boyd Cole was born in Elliston on July 14, 1924. His father worked in the United States and then at a papermill in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, when Raymond Cole was one month old. Mr. Cole grew up in Newfoundland.

In 1941, Mr. Cole finished grade 11 and was 17 years old in July of that year. He wanted to be a fighter pilot so in 1942 he signed up for the air force by altering his birth certificate. He received his wings on November 12, 1943. He found out later that he was not to become a pilot, but he did become an air gunner.

Mr. Cole spent three weeks at #1 Air Gunners Ground Training School (AGGTS). He then spent six weeks at #9 Bombing and Gunnery School (BGS). Following #9 BGS he went overseas. Further training includes #30 Operation Training Unit (OTU) and then 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) where he made the conversion from twin engine aircraft to heavier, four engine aircraft with seven crew members.

Mr. Cole flew as an air gunner in over twenty operations with as much as one thousand aircraft in some. He was involved in the Normandy Campaign and many of the missions were heavy concentration bombings of the Ruhr Valley, which was a heavy industrial area.

Mr. Cole completed his flying tour (thirty operations) and went on to do three more operations afterwards. One to help his crew finish up their tour and then volunteered for another two. He worked as an orderly and as a truck driver for a while before returning to Grand Falls, after three and a half years overseas. Afterwards, he became a minister.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Raymond Boyd Cole
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Atlantic Ocean
Air Force
166th Airborne
Air Gunner

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