Digby Rex Bell Cosh

RCNVR   Lt. Commander   -   DSC,   MiD

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Ottawa Boy Brings Star Back To Destroyer

His shipmates on HMCS Restigouche, now in British waters, are very glad that Lieut. Digby Cosh, of Ottawa, went ashore to a musical review.
Because the star of the review, Will Fyffe, who is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite Scottish comedian, paid a return visit to the destroyer.
While they were at the theatre, Lieutenant Cosh and Lieutenant B. Rowland, of Kinston, both of the RCNVR, went backstage and introduced themselves to Fyffe, who turned down a big Hollywood contract to remain in Briton for the duration.
Next day the comedian spent three hours watching two teams from the Canadian ship play softball and the day after that, he went aboard the ship and went through his repertoire for officers and men. He promised to tell “two very important people – the two most important people in the world” what he had seen of Canada’s navy. And the lads in blue figured he must have meant his friends the King and Queen.


Killed in a Flying Accident 24 June 1944


Men of Canadian Navy Are Honored in Britain

Ottawa, Aug. 29, 1941 - (CP) - Naval service headquarters announced tonight that Capt. C. R. H. Taylor of Halifax and Ottawa, captain commanding Canadian ships in United Kingdom waters, and a number of other officers and men of the Royal Canadian Navy have been mentioned in despatches as a result of their conduct and behavior during "heavy air raids on Plymouth and Devonport last April.
"All have been warmly commended for their work by Admiral of the Fleet Sir L. M. Forbes, Commander in Chief, Plymouth Command," the Navy statement said.
"The officers and men played prominent parts in the work of combating the destructive effects of the raids in civil as well as in naval establishments, in fire prevention, in fire-fighting, rescue and in salvage work."
Besides Captain Taylor, the following officers and men received mention and commendation:
Lieut. K. L. Dyer, R.C.N., formerly of Windsor, N.S.
Lieut. D. R. B. Cosh, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, Ottawa.
Surgeon Lieut. H. R. Ruttan, R.C.N.V.R,, Victoria.
Acting Paymaster Lt. Cmdr, .W. J. Marshall, Royal Canadian Naval Reserve, Montreal.
Regulating Petty Officer F. R. Glossop, R.C.N., Listowel.
Stoker P.O. W. J. Carson, R.C.N.V.R., Regina.
Leading Seaman E. V. Jones, R.C.N., Victoria.
Stoker P.O. G. F. Adam, R.C.N., Victoria.
Stoker P.O. W. M. Armstrong, R.C.N., Kamloops, B.C.
Chief Shipwright I. G. Keddle, Victoria.

... Lieutenant Cosh was described as "untiring and fearless in his direction of the employment of fire and rescue party" and successful in leadership of fire-fighting expeditions.

... Lieutenant Cosh, 23, is the son of Maj. R. F. Cosh and Mrs. Cosh of 180 Lisgar Street, Ottawa.




Lt.-Cmdr. D. Cosh Led Navy Fliers In Night Attack

LONDON. March 16, 1944 — (C.P.) — Planes operating from escort carriers now can move successfully against submarines and enemy planes at night, taking off and landing in the dark, an announcement disclosed tonight.
The announcement told of a recent action in which naval aircraft from an escort carrier, led by Lt.-Cmdr. Digby Cosh, 25, of Ottawa, pursued and shot down two enemy aircraft and damaged a third while successfully defending an Atlantic convoy from a night attack.
Lt.-Cmdr. Cosh, leader of the formation of Grumman Wildcats in which one of the pilots was Lieut. Harry Wilson of Orillia, Ont., attacked the leader of the German formation but had to break of the attack when ship's guns opened fire.
Lieut. Jack Osbourne of Toronto was the carrier's fighter direction officer.
"This engagement demonstrates how naval aircraft are now able to give round-the-clock protection to convoys in mid-Atlantic," the announcement said. ''U-boats and enemy aircraft are no longer safe from attack at any time during the hours of daylight or darkness."

Got Hun Plane

Lt.-Cmdr. Cosh
Lt-Cmdr Cosh
Lieut.-Cmdr. Cosh, R.C.N.V.R., who has been serving with the Fleet Air Arm since 1941, is the son of Major and Mrs. Rex F. Cosh of 180 Lisgar Street. He was credited with destroying a German reconnaissance plane over the North Sea last summer.
The Ottawa officer, who was promoted to his present rank last October, is a graduate of the Royal Military College and was a member of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve since 1937. At the outbreak of the war he was first assigned to the destroyer Fraser and later the Skeena and before his transfer for flying duties was posted at H.M.C.S. Niobe.


NIGHT FIGHT - From Deck of Carrier

LONDON, March 23, 1944 — (CP) — The admiralty said; "Naval aircraft operating from the escort carrier H.M.S. Pursuer successfully defended a valuable Atlantic convoy against an attempted attack by enemy aircraft after sunset...."

It leaves a lot unsaid. For instance, that this was the first time fighter aircraft have taken off and landed on an aircraft carrier after dark; that it was so tough a job they called for volunteers; that a young Canadian led the flight of planes.
He's Lieutenant Commander Digby Cosh, 25-year-old navy squadron leader from Ottawa. He had other planes with him for this interception job, one of them piloted by Lieut. Harry Wilson of Orillia, Ont., and the others by two Britons.
One after another, they left the carrier, Cosh, Wilson, S/L Lawrence Brander of Lossiemouth, Scotland, and S/L Norman Turner of Maidenhead, England.

Night Fighters

Seven enemy planes started coming in.
Cosh attacked the leader, had to break off the attack when the ship's guns opened up on them, but could see another enemy aircraft across his bow in flames and crash into the sea.
Turner got credit for shooting one plane flown. For half an hour the aircraft carrier's planes flew around their convoy keeping the bombers away. All the bombs dropped far astern of the merchant ships and in the darkness the planes were ordered back to the carrier.
That was the end of the action. The communique said: "The convoy was undamaged and all our aircraft landed safely back on H.M.S. Pursuer."

Wearing the new rose-coloured night glasses which accustom the eyes to the darkness, two officers of a Canadian destroyer, wait to go on watch, left to right, they are: Lt. W. H. Toller. R.C.N.V.R., Ottawa, and Lt. Peter Cosh, R.C.N.V.R., Ottawa. Lt. Toller is holding "Jeannie", the ship's wire haired terrier mascot. Both officers are wearing the new fur parkas which, like the trousers, are made of Grenfell cloth. Lt. Toller is wearing new-style sea boots. All the clothing is R.C.N. issue, including the fur hats, for duty in northern waters. — (R.C.N. Photo).


To The Tirpitz
THE NAVY'S WINGS — Under the guns of a Canadian destroyer, fighter planes of the Royal Navy head across the Arctic for the attack on the German battleship "Tirpitz". This squadron was led by Lt. Cmdr. Digby Cosh, RCNVR, of Ottawa. Flying with him were Lieut. A. N. Pym, Kingston, Ont. and Lieut. H. P. Wilson, of Orillia, Ont.


Ottawa Flyer Leads Squadron In Attacking German Battleship

Cosh, Pym & Wilson
OTTAWA NAVY FLYER LEADS RAID ON TIRPITZ — Three Canadians flew fighters which hammered the German battleship Tirpitz to make way for the bombers. From left to right they are: Lieut.-Cmdr. Digby Cosh, R.C.N.V.R. Ottawa. Ont., who lead a fighter squadron; Lieut. A. N. Pym. R.N.V.R., Kingston, and Lieut. H. P. Wilson, R.C.N.V.R., of Orillia. All three are in the same fighter squadron. Lieut. Pym is explaining how he swooped in to strafe the Tirpitz.

A UNITED KINGDOM PORT, May 4, 1944 — When fighters and torpedo bombers of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm hammered the German battleship "Tirpitz" as she lay at anchor in Alten Fiord, Norway, fighting ships and men of the Royal Canadian Navy had a share in the daring operation.
Four Canadians were in the fighter squadron which pummeled the battleship in the van of the bombers. A Canadian flying a "Barracuda" torpedo bomber scored at least one direct hit. At least three other Canadians were serving as officers in Royal Navy ships in the operation and two of Canada's destroyers helped screen the aircraft carriers on which the attacking planes were borne. Lieut. Graham Darling RCNVR of Vancouver, B.C.,
the only Canadian flying one of the Royal Navy's new "Barracuda" torpedo bombers, scored at least one direct hit on the "Tirpitz". Darling, who is serving on loan to the Royal Navy, was in the first "strike" of bombers which pounced on the German battleship hot on the tail of the fighters. His was the seventh plane to make its bombing run and hits had already been scored when he dropped his bombs. His airgunner reported one direct hit forward of the bridge, probably on the fo'c'sle. The flight of his remaining bombs was unobserved.
Lieut. Cmdr, Digby Cosh. R.C. N.V.R., son of Lieut. Colonel and Mrs. R. F. Cosh. 180 Lisgar Street, Ottawa, led a squadron of "Hellcat" fighter planes in to scar the "Tirpitz" with machine gun fire and smooth the way for the bombers. Flying with Cosh was Lieut. H. R. "Hank" Wilson. R.C.N.V.R., of Orillia.
Cosh and Wilson are old flying buddies. They are as familiar with unusual flying assignments as they are with their own flying helmets. Not so long ago, while flying in the escort carrier H.M.S. "Pursuer", these two, with two Britons, volunteered one night to take on seven German bombers which were praying on a North Atlantic convoy. Cosh led that flight which was credited with knocking down one of the bombers and driving the rest away from the ships which were undamaged. That was the first time that fighter aircraft had taken off and landed on an escort carrier after dark.
Two other Canadians, Sub. Lieut. Don Shepherd, R.C.N.V.R., of Toronto. Out., and Sub. Lieut. B. L. "Red" Haytor. R.C.N.V.R., London, Ont., flew "Corsair" fighters in the action. It was the job of the men in the fighters to swoop in on the "Tirpitz" with guns blazing and uproot the ship's anti-aircraft defences. So well did they carry out their assignment that pilots in the torpedo bombers reported that the barrage put up by the Germans was spasmodic and wild.
At least three other Canadians are known to have served as officers in Royal Navy ships which took part in the operation. They are Lieut. Cmdr. John McAvity, R.C.N.V.R., of Saint John, N.B., and Sub. Lieut. Robert George Bundy and Sub. Lieut. M. K. Riddell, R.C.N.V.R., both of Toronto.
In the operation, three "Barracudas" which took part in the attack were lost. Of the fighters, only one plane was hit. The pilot, T. H. Haore, R.N.Z.N.V.R., of Wellington, New Zealand, was forced to make a crash landing in the cold waters of the Arctic Ocean when his landing gear was damaged by anti-aircraft fire. He was picked up by a whaler from one of the Canadian destroyers.


Five Canadians Are Given D.S.C.

London, May 31, 1944 — (CP Cable) — Five members of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve have been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, one received a bar to his D.S.C., and nine, including one of the D.S.C. winners, have been mentioned in dispatches, the Admiralty announced today. Winners of the D.S.C: Lieut-Cmdr. Digby R. B. Cosh, Ottawa; Lieuts. R. B. Wadsworth and C. R. Parker, Toronto; Lieuts. C. Burke and J. D. Maitland, Vancouver.
Bar to D.S.C: Lieut.-Cmdr. G. W. Stead, Vancouver.


Digby Cosh

Digby Cosh
    LT. CMDR. DIGBY COSH, of the Fleet Air Arm, son of Major and Mrs. R. F. Cosh, 180 Lisgar Street, has been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for "good service in air actions" as well as receiving a "mention in despatches".
Lieuts. Wadsworth and Parker received the award "for good work at Salerno" (Italy), while Lieuts. Burke and Maitland were honored "for good service in the coastal forces in the Mediterranean.”
Cmdr. Stead received a Bar to his D.S.C. "for good work at Salerno.” He received the D.S.C. in October, 1942, for minesweeping at Malta.
The following were mentioned in despatches:
Lieuts. F. J. Boyer, Toronto; J, P. Roberts, London, Ont.; T. E. Ladner, Vancouver; H. Pickard, Winnipeg; H. P. Wilson. Orillia, Ont.; J. W. Gladgwell, Montreal; Lt. Cmdrs. C. A. Law, Quebec, and J. V. Brock, Ottawa.

In Tirpitz Raid

Lt. Cmdr. Cosh is the son of Major and Mrs. R. F. Cosh, 180 Lisgar Street. He destroyed a Blohm-and-Voss reconnaissance aircraft in a battle over the North Sea last summer and took part in the recent Fleet Air Arm raid on the German battleship "Tirpitz" in Alten Fjord, Norway. A graduate of Royal Military College, he married the former Mrs. Joan Cathleen Rose, M.T.C., in London two years ago.
Lt. Cmdr. Brock is the son of Capt. and Mrs. Eustace Brock, 94 Lisgar Road, Rockcliffe. A native of Winnipeg, he attended St. John's College, Winnipeg, and has been interested in the Navy first as a sea cadet and then as a member of the R.C.N.V.R. for many years before the war. He is at present commander of a ship of the Royal Navy.


King George Views Daring Flying By Canadians at Fleet Inspection

London, June 2, 1944 —(CP)— When the King paid his recent visit to the Home Fleet, a Royal Canadian Navy destroyer, fresh in from tough English Channel patrols, and Canadians in the Fleet Air Arm, gave the inspection a few unorthodox twists, and the King a few chuckles.
The inspection went according to plan for the first day. Then the Canadians took over.
A trio of high-flying Canucks — Lt. Cmdr. Digby Cosh, Ottawa, Lt. Graham Darling, Vancouver and Lt. H. P. Wilson, Orillia, Ont. — and their Royal Navy pals got a bit annoyed when, during an aerial demonstration, their captain told them they weren't coming in close enough.
So on the next sorties they gunned their barracuda aircraft straight at the carrier on which the King was visiting and "shot up" the area adjacent to the ship so thoroughly that seamen ran to collect their tin hats.
The King just grinned and never budged from his post on the bridge.
A couple of days later, just as the royal visit was drawing to a close, the Canadian destroyer came in.
She wasn't ready for an inspection; she was streaked with channel salt, grease and oil. But a hasty party was chosen to form a guard of honor to meet the King aboard another R.C.N. destroyer.
Strict orders had been given by the commanding officer Lt-Cmdr. Eric Boak of Victoria, on the ship on which the inspection was to take place that no sailor not dressed properly was to show his nose on deck.
With the result that as the King walked down the ranks his every move was followed by eyes peering from the darkness of companion-ways and hatches.
Too, Lt.-Cmdr. D. M. Piers, D.S.O., of Halifax, the commanding officer of the incoming destroyer, had lectured his guard of honor how to behave.
He told them how to address His Majesty, and with a steely ring in his voice and the memory of past incidents in his mind, added:
"And he'll probably ask you what you were before you joined the navy. And you'd better have a good one ready for that, see."
To which a rating, all dressed up in his best and squirming in a pair of tight sea boots, quipped, to a shipmate: "What was I before I joined the navy? Hell man, I was happy."
Fortunately, the King never asked him.


Digby Cosh
Digby Cosh

Navy Casualties

Ottawa, July 3, 1944 - (CP) - The Royal Canadian Navy issued today its 258th casualty list of the war, containing four names and including one death in hospital, one man dead from injuries, one man killed in a flying accident and one man previously missing and now reported, dead.
Following is the latest list of casualties, with next-of-kin:
Died in Christie St. Military Hospital, Toronto, June 27;
GRIMM, Raymond Joseph, Assistant Cook (S). Mrs. Hilda Grimm (mother), Gait, Ont.
Died As the Result of Injuries Received in an Accident Overseas;
PENN, Clarence Sylvester, AB. Charles H. Penn (father), 275 Edward St., London, Ont.
Killed in a Flying Accident Overseas;
COSH, Digby Rex Bell, D.S.C., Lt-Cmdr. Mrs. Joan Catherine Cosh (wife), Forest Holme, Taymount Rise, Forest Hill, London, S.E., England.
Previously Reported Missing and Now Reported Dead As of May 12;
KENT, Donald Archibald, D.S.M., CPO. Mrs. Phoebe Gertrude Kent (mother), Halifax.


Victories Include:

28 July 1943 one BV 138 destroyed

Interestingly, 5 BV138s of the same unit were destroyed that day. All 5 were shot down by Canadians. Syd Shulemson got 1 , Al De La Haye got 1, Jim Keefe got 2 and after almost attacking the Beaufighters of 404 Squadron, a Wildcat (Hellcat?) from the HMS Illustrious piloted by Cosh, got the 5th. Shulemson and Keefe were on their first operational sortie.
Note - my info is conflicting and it seems Shulemson and De La Haye may have shared the first one giving Syd a half credit and Al 1.5.


While at RMC, Digby became friends with 'Butch' Fernie.
Shortly thereafter, Fernie started dating Digby's sister, Beverley.




Thanks to niece Yolande for the photos & additional infos !

Yousuf Karsh took the photos in Ottawa

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