Gunner William Cole (see photograph above) was a regular soldier with the Royal Garrison Artillery and one of the first soldiers to be sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force when war was declared in August 1914. His wife, Lucy, travelled from their home in Salisbury to say goodbye at Dover, accompanied by their three young children: Sid, five; Rosie, three; and Ivy, who was just a babe in arms. Nearly 100 years later, Sid recalled that their journey was made by train, with a station porter helping his mother aboard with their luggage.
As a career soldier before the war, William had often been posted away from home and Lucy knew how to cope without him. Although a stern father, William revealed a softer side during the war when he sent his children postcards from the Front with loving messages on the back, which they pinned to the wall of the small bedroom they all shared.
William Cole served in France and Salonika and survived the conflict. When he returned to civilian life, he took up work as a cobbler, a trade he had learned in the army. His son, Sid, died in 2013 at the age of 104.