Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

William Cole

William Cole :

William Cole : (L to R) 1914 Star with clasp '5th Aug.-22nd Nov. 1914'; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; Territorial Efficiency Medal

(L to R) 1914 Star with clasp '5th Aug.-22nd Nov. 1914'; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; Territorial Efficiency Medal

William was born in around 1878 in Hulme, Manchester. He had a brother named Tom, but we don't know anything else about his family. He married Julia Leonard between January and March 1900 in Chorlton, Manchester.

At some point during 1903 William joined the Army. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment. They had returned to the UK from India at around the same time William enlisted. He was given the service number 7102. The 1st Battalion served in the UK and Ireland until the First World War broke out in August 1914.

In 1911 William and Julia lived in Swan Cottage in Whittington near Lichfield, Staffordshire. They had 2 children: William junior had been born on the 5th November 1902 and Leonard on the 10th February 1910. Later they had Kitty on the 7th May 1912 in Hulme and Dora on the 6th December 1914 in Marple, Cheshire.

They lived in a terraced house in Marple. We don't know whether William had been transferred to the Reserve before the outbreak of war.

William and the 1st Battalion crossed to France on the 10th September 1914. They fought at the First Battle of Ypres in Belgium. Whilst he was in Ypres William met his brother Tom. He was a driver, leading teams of horses pulling artillery.

At some point William was transferred to an unknown battalion of The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment). He was given the service number 30220. This number seems to have been issued in mid 1916. We don't know why he was transferred. We don't know any more about his war service.

After the end of the war William moved to the Manchester area and found work as a postman. He also resumed his military career. On the 9th February 1921 he joined either the 6th or the 7th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. These were both units of the Territorial Army, so William would have trained in the evenings and at weekends, whilst continuing to work as a postman. He was given the service number 3515390.

The 6th and 7th Battalions were merged into the 6/7th Battalion in 1922. William continued to serve with them and eventually reached the rank of Sergeant. In February 1930 William's Army service was recognised when he was awarded the Territorial Efficiency Medal. At the time he was a member of HQ Wing of the 6/7th Battalion.

William left the Army on the 30th October 1931. The rest of his life remains a mystery. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in 2002.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council