Arthur Cornelius Cole
- Plaistow - 1890
- Salonika - 27 July 1918
- Died of wounds
- Served in
- Kings Own Royal Lancaster
- British War Medal & Victory Medal
- 2 Henry Road, East Ham
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.”
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