Errol Barrow was Andrew Cole’s navigator while he was in the RAF, firstly with 88 Squadron during World War II and for two years post-war they both flew with the BAFO Communications Squadron, assigned to Commander-in-Chief and Military Governor of the British Occupation Zone in Germany, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir William Sholto Douglas, C-in-C Military Governor’s Flight.
“The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank” is Andrew Cole’s legacy: an unpublished book on his time in the RAF during World War II and flying post war. This is an important piece of recorded World War II history.
This is the story about the training of RAF aircrew in Canada. It is about putting together a crew that included Barbadian – Sgt. Errol Walton Barrow RAF (Navigator & Bomber), Australian – Sgt. Leo Leslie J Schultz RAAF (Wireless/Air gunner) and Australian – Sgt. Robert Allen “Shorty” Stewart RAAF (Wireless/Air gunner). It is about war-time flying with 88 Squadron and peace-time flying with British Air Forces of Occupation (BAFO) Communications Squadron, in Bückeburg, British sector of occupied Germany.
This project started with the BajanThings posting: “Errol Barrow – Statesman, Prime Minister of Barbados, RAF Navigator World War II” published originally in March 2019 and subsequently updated.
Following publication, Melissa Whitney Nelson posted a comment on the Facebook group: Old Time Photos Barbados:
I was visiting the The Yehudi Menuhin School in Stoke D’Abernon with my son about 9 years ago , and I stayed at the Travelodge Hotel in the Centre of Leatherhead. To pass the time I walked to Fetcham and Bookham.
I believe it was in a stone church in Bookham where I had a chance encounter with a lovely old gentleman with very white hair who told me about the unique pillows on the pews there. Each family had there own design. A book describing the pillows meaning was there too.
Anyway, we somehow got to talking about World War II. I told him my father was a medical officer and was in the Battle of the Bulge. That’s when he said he flew during that time.
At some point the Barbados connection came up because my father married a Barbadian (Joan Goddard) and then he told me how Errol Barrow was his navigator! He said he had visited Mr. Barrow in Barbados many times. He then said he knew members of my Goddard family.
If he’s still around, he’d certainly have stories to tell.
That “lovely old gentleman with very white hair” at St. Nicolas Church, Great Bookham, Surrey turned out to be Andrew Leslie Cole; Errol Barrow’s pilot in 88 Squadron during World War II.
Sadly Andy Cole died in December 2017. Via the rector of St. Nicolas Church, Great Bookham we were able to make contact with Andrew Cole’s daughter Debbie Jefferies and she kindly loaned us her Dad’s three RCAF/RAF log books and as background information: a tribute he wrote to coincide with the unveiling of Errol Barrow’s statue on 21st January 2007 “Errol Barrow: My Navigator: My Friend” and the manuscript for “The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank”. With Debbie Jefferies’ permission we have digitised “The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank” and it can now be downloaded from BajanThings. Andrew Cole certainly had some stories to tell.
“The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank” provides useful background on flying in the RAF between 1942 and 1947. For those interested in Errol Barrow’s war-time service in the RAF from 1940 to 1947 this book provides a backdrop to his aircrew training at No. 31 Operational Training Unit, Debert, Canada, operational flying with 88 Squadron during World War II and two years peace-time flying with BAFO Communications Squadron, latterly as the personal aircrew to Commander-in-Chief and Military Governor of the British Occupation Zone in Germany, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir William Sholto Douglas, where he was re-united with his 88 Squadron navigator Errol Barrow.
This book is also about lifetime friendship and camaraderie developed while in the RAF. Barrow maintained a life-long friendship with both his pilot Andrew Cole and his commanding officer Sholto Douglas. Barrow was god father to Sholto Douglas’ only daughter, the Hon. Katherine Anne Douglas. Andrew Cole whose middle name is Lesile always believed Barrow’s daughter, Lesley, who was born in the UK was named after him. Post war, Andrew Cole spent his entire working life with Royal Dutch Shell following a personal introduction from his commanding officer: Sholto Douglas.
Andrew Cole’s flying memoirs: “The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank” can be downloaded as a PDF for free.
The download is about 5.5MB in size so may take a little while to download! In most browsers the PDF will open in a separate window. To keep “The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank” please remember to save it to your device.
Click here to download “The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank”. [updated 6th June 2022]
Our thanks to all those that have contacted us with typos and other errors.
Here are a selection of photos Andy Cole’s family shared with us: