We are unaware whether Ted joined the RAF prior to the commencement of the Second World War or whether he acknowledged the ‘call to arms’ and was called-up like so many other men at that time. However, we are aware that Ted saw action during that theatre of war.
He reached the office of Leading Aircraftmen and assigned to RAF 107 Squadron.
During 12th May 1940 he was aboard a Blenheim IV aircraft (Serial No. L8748, OM-K), airborne from Wattisham, Suffolk on its fateful mission to destroy strategic bridges across the Albert Kanaal at Maastricht, Belgium. Being badly shot about by enemy ME109’s it was force landed in a part of Belgium still in Allied control - this was one of four 107 Squadron Blenheim’s lost on this mission. Ted sustained severe leg injuries and was still in
Le Touquet when the area was over-run by the advancing Germans and he was taken into captivity. Ted was eventually interned in POW camps Stalag Luft 1, 3, 6 & Stalag 357 (which was an Army camp.)
We discovered that in Stalag Luft 3 the prisoners performed some shows even though, they had few resources, but they could make everything out of nothing. Equally it was an "all-male" camp, so the female parts had to be played by men. They had to alter their voice and mannerism, and padding-out in the appropriate places they represented the ladies from theatre-land.
This is where it becomes really interesting, as one such presentation was “Bums on Broadway” and the photo below shows and names the actors and if you look closely our “Ted” is No. 1…
We would like to thank Ben van Drogenbroek from Holland for this fascinating information about Ted - it would appear that Ben, for some 38 years has had a very keen interest in POW war camps during WWII and in particular Stalag Luft 3. His interest covered daily life in the camp and theatre activities. These interests have taken Ben to meet ex POW’s in England and USA and he has become a writer in his own right with a 640 page book about Stalag Luft 3 “The Camera Became My Passport Home.”
You can see some more pictures of this production from this link
During May 1943 Ted achieved the rank of Warrant Officer and was summoned to Buckingham Palace during Tuesday, 23rd October 1945 to be invested with the DFM (Distinguished Flying Medal).
W. Bro C E (Ted) Coote PPGD became a freemason in 1959 being initiated into our lodge; he was an active member performing many duties over the years concluding with that of Chaplain. He was also a member of a Kent lodge receiving honours.
Ted was also a keen painter and below is an example of his work.
He peacefully passed away during the 20th April 1997.