William Cole was the son of John Lewis and Mary Ann Cole of Darby End, Netherton. He attended the Claughton School and worked for the Traffic Department of the Great Western Railway at Dudley. He enlisted in the Grenadier Guards and served in 3 Company, 1st Battalion. The first major action of the Guards Division was the battle of Loos in September 1915. It was not a success but the Guards stayed in the Artois sector near Laventie until August 1916. They moved to the Somme and were central to the September phase of the battle. A major attack on the 15th September made few gains but another attempt on the 25th broke into the third line of the enemy defences at the fortified villages of Morval and Lesboeufs. By the end of the battle in November the Guards were on the ridge from Lesboeufs to the east. It possessed good visibility but no proper communication trenches. It was described as ‘that windy waste of dead weeds and wreckage’ and movement of any kind was a serious risk. Deaths from shell-fire were numerous and Private William Cole died of wounds on the 20th November.He was 26 years of age and is buried in Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte (II K 31) and commemorated on the Dudley, Netherton and the Claughton School Memorials and on the Great Western Railway Roll of Honour.
Town Hall, Priory Street, Dudley
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