Nov. 16, 2021

74 Coffee with Ken Cooke D-Day veteran Part 1

Green Howards, D-Day, Belgium, Germany - WWII


Briton Ken Cooke was in the 7th Green Howards infantry, and at the tender age of 18 was thrown into action for the very first time storming Gold Beach on D-Day 6th June 1944 in the very first waves of attack.

LINK TO BUY ME A COFFEE

Full show notes at:

https://www.fightingthroughpodcast.co.uk/74-Ken-Cooke-WW2-Green-Howard-Part-1 

 

Apple reviews - https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/ww2-fighting-through-from-dunkirk-to-hamburg-war-diary/id624581457?mt=2

 

Follow me on Twitter  - https://twitter.com/PaulCheall

 

Follow me on Facebook  - https://www.facebook.com/FightingThroughPodcast

 

YouTube channel - Loads of my own videos - Dunkirk Mole, Gold Beach, much more. https://www.youtube.com/user/paulcheall/videos

Interested in Bill Cheall's book? Link here for more information.

Fighting Through from Dunkirk to Hamburg, hardback, paperback and Kindle etc.

Transcript

Briton Ken Cooke was in the 7th Green Howards infantry, and at the tender age of 18 was thrown into action for the very first time storming Gold Beach on D-Day 6th June 1944 in the very first waves of attack.

Veteran Ken Cooke

 

Young Ken.

 

Ken inspects a  WWII Tommy helmet, first time in 80 years

Ken inspects a Tommy helmet, first time in 80 years wwii

Stained glass window.

Sword beach Abbey Road!

Sword beach Abbey Road wwii

 

Ken with WW2 dog tags

Fake innoculation entries in WWII pay book

Fake innoculation entries in pay book

Ken at WW2 Gold Beach

Ken at Gold Beach

Office boy Ken stands near the King

Office boy Ken stands near the King

 

Fighting Through Podcast Episode 74 – Coffee with Ken Cooke D-Day veteran WW2

More great unpublished history! WWII

 

Welcome

Normandy WW2 veteran Ken Cooke introduced the show and you’ve just heard a few snippets from my recent meeting with him where Ken raked the brain cells to bring us a bucketful of memories and musings about his war and much more.

So that’s coming up soon plus I’ve a few more extras in the PS.

Right now I want to share some absolutely fantastic news about the German Boy Soldier memoir sent in a few months back by Heidi L-A.

Heidi has just told me she’s signed a publishing deal with Pen and Sword.

So Save the Last Bullet will be available from book sellers some time next year.

So what first appeared here as great unpublished history is now going to be great published history. And if my download numbers are anything to go by there’s a great deal of interest in the German side of the war with a massive 10,000 listens to the episode already. I’ll keep you posted on progress with the book publishing date.

If you want to remind yourself what it’s all about check out episode 69 German Boy Soldier. And remember, you heard it first on the FTP!

I’ve pretty much cancelled the feedback and family stories segment this time because Ken’s interview is pretty long and also quite a bit of the material sent in by you fits better I think with other content. So that’ll be covered soon.

This episode

Briton Ken Cooke was in the 7th Green Howards infantry, and at the tender age of 18 was thrown into action for the very first time storming Gold Beach on D-Day 6th June 1944 in the very first waves of attack. 6th and 7th GH together with 5 East Yorks together formed 69 Brigade, part of 50 Div

And as we threaded our way through the minefield of his memories, the stories just seemed to keep getting better and better.

Round up and thanks

Thank you so very much for your support and for making the time to listen to me.

And thanks in particular to Ken for making time for me and sharing your treasured memories. and for your service to society, which continues even today albeit in a different and less dangerous form.

If I hear about the resurrection of the play, Bomb Happy, post covid, I’ll let you know. In the meantime you can get hold of a published book, Bomb Happy, which contains the script to the play and those very same words spoken by veterans all those years ago and repeated in such surreal fashion by some of today’s young actors. The book is by Helena Fox and is available from most book sellers. So that’s Bomb Happy by Helena Fox.

 

Right now we’re in a period of remembrance and we’ll all have paid our respects in our own way. In small contribution to this, the following PS’s are in tribute to the fallen. It’s often said that the ones who died fighting were the real heroes, so here’s just a few of them.

I’m including a short sound bite from the recent memorial service I attended for Captain Stan Perry. The memorial ceremony went really well with a large number attending with some serious military honours rolled out by the Sherwood Rangers. And I’ve put a short video in the show notes for this episode on the web site.

PS Eddie Toms

I had a recent email from Michael Stapleton near Liverpool Eng

 Just a quick one about the memorial services on Sunday - I’ll be sure to say a little prayer for all veterans we’ve heard from and who gave the ultimate sacrifice throughout the wars we have fought, I’ve come across a little bit of info on lads from my own town killed in action throughout the wars - and the KIA lists from WW1 were very surprising as my town was barely just a small farming community back in 1914-1918.

I’m not going to read all the names Michael sent me, suffice to say that they included both world wars together with Borneo, Gulf War, Falklands, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.

Moving on to a few memories from listener Eddie Toms whom you heard from briefly during the interview with Ken.

Eddie’s Dad was in the 7th Btn GH, same as Ken so these stories relate to the same time and place of the war. I did ask Ken if he knew which Company he was in but he couldn’t remember.

Eddie wrote to me:

My Dad was Edward Toms 7th battalion Green Howards C company 14th platoon. He was known as Ned or Tommo. He was in North Africa, but wasn't involved in the fighting. However, he fought in Sicily, D day and Normandy until he was wounded by I think shell or mortar fire, in August 44.

His platoon sergeant in Sicily and France was John "Dingy" Bell , from Ashington he was a veteran of the BEF in France. Dad said he was the best of men. Dingy always picked my dad first, when doing night patrol, something I thought Dad was secretly very proud of.

He lost a very good mate William Bill Smart on 14th july in Sicily. Dad and his platoon were going up a lane when a German plane dropped a bomb on the men. Bill was in the centre of the track - alongside him was a chap who lost an arm, he’d been a barber in civvy street.

My dad was nearest the dry stone wall. He didn't have a scratch. He often talked about Bill, who he says was Smart by name and smart by nature. During the Normandy campaign the platoon was commanded by a Canadian Canloan officer from the Winnipeg Rifles. Dad said he was a bloody good officer.

Another of my dad’s mates was killed in July 44 in Normandy. He was Lance sergeant Norman "Dad" Webster. His nickname was Dad because he was 29 and therefore much older than most of his pals. Norman would ask Sergeant Bell if he could go forward of the platoon lines and would do this on a regular basis to snipe at Germans. Then one day he never returned. It was assumed he had been killed, which later it unfortunately turned out that he had.

Please give Ken my sincere regards. Perhaps you could ask him if he remembers my dad and any of the others mentioned.

PS 2 Marine Tandy

BBC People’s war web site

Contributed by

Kevin Tandy

People in story:

George Ernest Tandy DSM

Location of story:

D-Day

Background to story:

Royal Navy

You’ve heard this story before but not from the first hand point of view from the son. It was something Ken said during our meeting that triggered the memory for me and I think it’s a story that’s worth a second airing especially as this version contains a lot of detail that I didn’t have last time.

 

My late father, Cpl. George Tandy RM on D-Day, was Coxswain of LCA 786, 539 Assault Flotilla.
When his boat was being launched the steering wheel was accidently torn off. Knowing the importance of getting his troops ashore, he climbed over the stern of his craft and steered the boat in rough seas to Gold Beach by pushing the rudder with his boot and instructing his mate on the use of the throttle, arriving only seconds late.
When he returned for more troops he was ordered back onboard SS Empire Halberd to warm up. He told me that he was so cold that the tepid water they put him in felt scalding.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his efforts and was also told that he would be awarded the Croix de Guerre 2nd class by the French, although this was never received by him.
Later on he was greatly flattered by being guest of honour at the inauguration of the new 539 Assault Squadron recognised as being a missing asset after the Falklands conflict.
When Dad passed away after a long gruelling illness he was cremated locally, but we were requested to take his ashes to Stonehouse barracks in Plymouth. We were taken out on a modern day LCA, then transferred onto a LCTwhere the RM Padre said a few words over Dad's ashes and we then put Dad back to the place where he always said he should be at the end of his days.

Thank you

Paul

Ken Cooke

Briton Ken Cooke was in the 7th Green Howards infantry, and at the tender age of 18 was thrown into action for the very first time storming Gold Beach on D-Day 6th June 1944 in the very first waves of attack. 6th and 7th GH together with 5 East Yorks together formed 69 Brigade, part of 50 Div
And as we threaded our way through the minefield of his memories, the stories just seemed to keep getting better and better. Now in his nineties, Ken is still active and involves himself in all sorts, as well as being featured in an award winning play, Bomb Happy.