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Local Heroes - Your streets were their streets Local Heroes - Your streets were their streets

The names of 197 local men who lost their lives in World War I are
inscribed on the bells of the Memorial Community Church in Plaistow. They are our local heroes

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Arthur Cornelius Cole

Lance Corporal
Kings Own Royal Lancaster
Born
Plaistow - 1890
Died
Salonika - 27 July 1918
Age
28
Death
Died of wounds
Served in
Kings Own Royal Lancaster
Awards
British War Medal & Victory Medal
Memorials
Unknown
Lived
2 Henry Road, East Ham

Arthur's story

Many thanks to Terence A Cole, a great nephew of Arthur Cole, who sent fascinating information, compiled by his late father, another Arthur Cole, who spent much of his childhood in the company of his grandparents in Henry Road, East Ham:

“Arthur Cornelius Cole was born in 1890 in Plaistow, son of Arthur Cornelius Cole snr. and Elizabeth nee Sharpley.  Arthur Cole snr worked at Beckton Gas worked as a boiler maker and Elizabeth’s family had a dairy on Westham marshes.  As a child Arthur Cornelius helped with the milk round before going to school.

Arthur senior was an inconsiderate husband and tyrannical father to his sons.  Until they were well into their teens he would wait by the front gate, stick in hand waiting for the town hall clock to strike 9 pm and if they were not home he would be off looking for them and beat them if caught.  At length his eldest son, Arthur Cornelius, rebelled and threatened that if he laid a hand on any of them he would get a dose of his own medicine.  He also said that he wanted to see better treatment of his mother.

This action led to a rift between father and son and when Arthur Cornelius was conscripted during WW1 he tried to effect reconciliation but his father ignored him.  Later, when Arthur was killed, the old man was overcome with remorse and, worse, blamed by his wife for sending her eldest son off to be killed, which, of course, was not true.

Neither parent really recovered from the shock of Arthur’s death and the events which preceded it.

I remember that he used to go to his local, The Red Lion in High Street South near Central Park, East Ham, every evening and went to bed every Sunday afternoon.  After he retired he used to spend his time pottering in his workshop and made me several toys and a swing.

I spent a lot of time with Grandma and looking back I think she made much of me to compensate for the loss of her son and make me a replacement of her ideal of what he might have been.

Sometimes during the evening when grandfather was out, she would send me to the cooked meat shop on the main road (Barking Road) armed with a dish in which to get her half a cooked sheep’s head and a jug for a pint of stout from the off-licence on the way back.

I seem to have spent much of my early childhood in their house in Henry Road and have memories of very happy times there.

On most Friday evenings the sons and their wives would spend time there, the men playing solo whist (card game) and the women talking.  As I was at the time the only child there, I sat and listened.

On the wall of the living room hung a frame containing a photograph of the younger Arthur Cornelius in uniform together with his Service medals, and every Armistice night (11th November) the whole family would gather to arrange their poppies round it – very emotional and tearful occasion.

Elizabeth always resented an invoice, which she paid, for the sum of one shilling.  It was to cover the cost of the blanket in which her son, Arthur Cornelius, was buried.

Arthur Cornelius died near Lake Doiran (now near the border of Greece and Bulgaria).  His battalion was fighting the Bulgars who were trying to invade Greece.  Bulgaria was allied to Germany.

As Arthur Cornelius Cole went up to the front, Charles, his brother, was coming down.  Charles told Arthur that if they were shelled to move down the hill slightly where the shells could not land.  Arthur’s commanding Officer would not listen and many men needlessly died.  A diary kept by a Canadian doctor, Thomas Daly Cumberland, mentions Arthur Cornelius and the nature of his death.  The doctor also recollects how the Commanding Officer would ‘parade’ about in full sight of the enemy thus giving away the English troop’s position.  He would then retire back down the hill as the Bulgars started shelling.

Arthur Cornelius, along with many others died in the shelling.

On a final, poignant note… Arthur Cornelius Cole was engaged to be married to Miss Lily Fewtrell also from the Plaistow area.   Lily never married and remained true to her fiancé’s memory.”

Service Number
26154
Mother
Elizabeth
Father
Arthur Cornelius
Spouse
Unknown
Buried
Karasouli Military Cemetery, Greece
  • Arthur Cornelius Cole
  • Arthur Cornelius Cole's parents, Arthur Cornelius Snr and Elizabeth
  • diary cover
  • Arthur Cole from diary

Do you know anything about Arthur?

Perhaps Arthur Cornelius Cole was in your family, or a friend of someone in your family? If you have any information at all we'd love to hear from you. Post a comment using the form below and we'll be in touch.

8 comments

  1. September 9, 2014
    9:29 pm

    Having discovered my uncle’s name, Arthur Cornelius Cole, on the bell in Plaistow Church, I have arranged to visit Karasouli Cemetery. I am leaving for Thessaloniki on 21st September 2014. All I have is a note from him to my mother and her reply as a 6 year old to her soldier brother. Thank you for all the information supplied. I should like to contact Terence Cole who wrote so many details.

    • terry cole
      November 14, 2014
      4:57 pm

      Hi sheila Liggins
      Conact me via email if you wish – I’ll pass over any other information which I have
      Regards
      Terry Cole

      also I have memories of Greta’s wedding and a picture to prove I was there!!!

    • terry cole
      November 15, 2014
      10:42 am

      Hi sheila
      please contact me and I can update you on the family history.

      I have a feeling the Great Uncle Arthur died in Bulgaria and hi remains were moved later to Karasouli. I’m down in Bristol at the moment visiting family and will look up details when I return home to Canterbury.

      Please give cousin Greta a call and tell her that I remember the wedding.

      Dad’s full name was Arthur Ernest and was named after his 2 uncles killed in the war. Ernest was on his mother’s side of the family (Charlie Cole’s brother-in-law.)

  2. Greta Stranks nee COLE
    September 11, 2014
    5:42 pm

    What a wonderful surprise to hear all this news.
    Especially as Terry you were my page boy in 1951.
    Your Father Arthur was always my favourite cousin, I am so sorry to hear of his death. You lived in Newbury Park.
    Sheila Liggins nee Brown Grandfather Charles sister, my Father Bert’s sister.
    I have a medal that was awarded to Athur Corneluis for hia gallantry in WW1.
    Please Terry get in touch. Sheila and I have in the last few weeks been trying to trace you and found a few things about Arthur Cornelius
    Please make contact about this wonderful story.

  3. Greta Stranks nee COLE
    September 11, 2014
    5:44 pm

    What a wonderful surprise to hear all this news.
    Especially as Terry you were my page boy in 1951.
    Your Father Arthur was always my favourite cousin, I am so sorry to hear of his death. You lived in Newbury Park.
    Sheila Liggins nee Brown Grandfather Charles sister, my Father Bert’s sister.
    I have a medal that was awarded to Athur Corneluis for hia gallantry in WW1.
    Please Terry get in touch. Sheila and I have in the last few weeks been trying to trace you and found a few things about Arthur Cornelius
    Please make contact about this wonderful story.
    Greta Stranks

    • terry cole
      November 14, 2014
      5:01 pm

      Hi Greta
      Please contact me by email and I’ll pass on our branch history – all 63 years worth
      Glad you made contact and hopr this gets through

      love to all family

      Page boy Terry

      PS I thought that the bridesmaid with me was very pretty!!!

  4. Greta Stranks nee COLE
    September 11, 2014
    6:02 pm

    How wonderful to hear some more about Arthur Cornelius Cole my Uncle. It’s very interesting. I have in my procession a Medal awarded to him on his gallantry in WW1
    Please get in touch with me Terrence. I am so sorry to hear of your Fathers death, he was always my favourite cousin.
    Greta Stranks nee Cole

  5. Greta Stranks nee COLE
    September 13, 2014
    5:52 pm

    Hoping to contact Terry Cole.
    I have in my possession a medal awarded to my Uncle Arthur Cornelius Cole. For his gallantry in the 1st World War.This news is so very interesting.

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