Play / pause Joseph Coley

Joseph Coley

  • Judth Constad and Louise Constad
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon-Jukes


My first cousin, Joseph Coley, and

he was eight years older than me.

What can I tell you.

His date of birth is the 22nd of February,

I think it was 1922.

He joined up

when he was 17 into the R.A.F.

and I think he did fairly well when he was

oh, he became a navigator.

And I know that by the photograph

a wing and an ‘N’ in the middle,

And he also got three stripes, which meant

he became a flying officer.

Well, when I found out the RAF

were doing an article about Jewish heroes.

I asked Mum if there was any in our family

And it's her first cousin, which

When we looked up about Joe,

we found out that he's

And he was in the raid,

which was the 17th of August 1943,

which involved 596 RAF heavy bombers.

And that was a very successful

They had their secret

with sufficient damage caused to delay

This book lists Joe as a mid upper gunner,

so in 43 he was no longer a navigator.

He did many, many

missions and

but two of his missions, he was shot down

and one of them for 48 hours,

he was apparently floating in the sea

I mean, that's two days

So incredible.

He was awarded

and he and mum said

and he and his mum and his wife went

to Buckingham Palace.

And we've got a picture here of him

At that time we had an aunt

and she was so excited that Joe got a DFC

that she sent the information

And I think she must've told him about it,

or he found out about it

And we never knew why.

Just “I don't want it in.

There is nothing to do with me.

I don't consider myself Jewish.”

because his father wasn't Jewish

and maybe that's

Joe apparently didn't really talk

about being Jewish,

And that could be for many reasons.

If you think a lot of Jews

War said they would be immigrants

there was a lot of anti-Semitism about

telling everyone they were Jewish

Plus, if you imagine if you got shot down

shot down twice and was saved,

but imagine getting shot down

and then and then being picked up

Because you're Jewish.

So I'd imagine it's probably quite normal

I wanted to tell this story about Joe

because of the way

and I want everyone

So I'm really, really proud

I think it's fantastic.

I mean, I think people if you're Jewish,

the reality of the Second World War,

that if the Germans did

You know,

If they had won the war, they'd come here

new factories

So I think the Jewish heroes,

I think they were fighting more

I think they're fighting for their

  • Joseph Coley receiving his DFC at Buckingham Palace

    © RAF Museum

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