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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
GARRAD-COLE, Wg Cdr Eric (1917-2003)
Level of description
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
6 boxes, 4 outsize items


Name of creator(s)

GARRAD-COLE | Eric | 1917-2003 | Wing Commander

Administrative / Biographical history

Born 1917; educated at Watford Grammar School; apprentice engineer with Vauxhall Motors, 1935; joined the Territorial Army as Trooper in City of London Yeomanry, Royal Horse Artillery, 1936; joined RAF, 1937; pilot, Bomber Transport Squadron, Iraq, 1938-1939; transferred to 211 Squadron, Western Desert, 1939; shot down by enemy ground fire, Libya, 1940; POW, Italy, 1940-1943, made numerous escape attempts; escaped to Rome and worked with local resistance as an unofficial billeting officer for escaped Allied POWs, 1943-1944; awarded MC, 1944; re-trained as a fighter pilot, 1944; served with Night Fighter Operational Training Unit, 1945-1946; commanded 129 Sqn and 267 Sqn, 1946-1948; Staff College, 1948; seconded to Pakistan Air Force as Wing Commander, 1950-1952; Air Defence Squadron, 1951-1952; Air Ministry, 1952-1956; Joint Services Staff College, 1956; Wing Commander, Air Defence 224 Group, Malaysia, 1956-1959; Deputy Station Commander, RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire, 1959-1960; retired, 1960; publican, Somerset; died, 2003.
Publication: Single to Rome (London, Allan Wingate, 1955)

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Placed in the Centre by the family, 2015

Content & structure

Scope and content

Letters, photographs and related papers concerning the RAF career of Wing Commander Eric Garrad-Cole, including: letters from Garrad-Cole to his fiancée, Edna Shenton (later Edna Garrad-Cole) written as a POW, 1941-1943, with details of daily camp life, new arrivals and official visitors; letters to Edna Shenton from the War Office, requesting news of Garrad-Cole, 1942; account of Garrad-Cole’s successful escape from Vianno camp, 1943, and subsequent work in Rome assisting other Allied escapees, 1943-1944; Garrad-Cole’s forged Italian identity card; copies of Garrad-Cole’s published memoir, Single to Rome (1955).  
Photographs relating to: Garrad-Cole’s RAF flying training, 1937; RAF service in Iraq and Libya, 1938-1940; the Pakistan Air Force, 1950-1952; Staff College, Quetta, Pakistan, 1953.
Correspondence, photographs, press cuttings and leaflets relating to the Royal Air Force Escaping Society and reunions of members of the Rome underground resistance, 1980-2009.  Also background research by the family, 2002-2014.

System of arrangement

In the following sections: 1: papers, 1939-1987, relating to World War Two, POW camps and escape; 2: papers relating to Garrad-Cole’s later career and retirement, 1949-2003; 3: photographs, 1928-1994; 4: artefacts, 1938; 5: research, 2002-2014, on Garrad-Cole’s military service.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

The collection is open for consultation in the Archives Reading Room, subject to signature of a Reader Undertaking from and appropriate provision of two forms of identification.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Head of Archives Services.

Language/scripts of material
English, some Italian
Finding aids

This summary guide, and a detailed catalogue available in the Archives Reading Room.

Description control

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

Date(s) of descriptions

June 2016.

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