Gun­ner

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - WW1 FATHERHOOD -

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.

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