Stanstead Abbotts

Local History Society

Ernest COLE

Rifleman 99334

5th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment

Formerly The Huntingdon Cyclists Battalion

Killed in Action 4th May 1918 aged 23

Born in 1894, in Peckham, South London, by 1911 he had moved to Stanstead Abbotts for the census shows him living in Chaseway Cottages, Easneye as a boarder with the Wren family and working as a domestic gardener.

When he joined the army he was posted to the Huntingdon Cyclists Battalion.  This was one of a number of cyclist battalions formed at the outbreak of the war originally meant for home defence.  This unit patrolled a stretch of coast between Scarborough and Spurn Point near Grimsby.  By spring 1915 two further battalions had been formed, but after 2 years of patrolling the coast, 90% of the 1st Battalion was sent to France in July 1916, and the men transferred to other regiments.  Ernest became a member of the 5th Kings (Liverpool) Regiment.

He fought with that Battalion throughout the rest of 1916, and then at the Battle of Arras in April 1917, and Cambrai in November 1917.  In March 1918 the German offensive Operation Michael began and the 5th Liverpool, like most of the British army was forced to retreat, not until mid-April did the German advance come to a halt. Sporadic fighting continued in the area until late July and Ernest was killed during this period.  There was something of a stalemate, until the Allied armies began their final push, the so called “100 Days”.

He is buried in Brown’s Road Military Cemetery near Festubert.

Medals Awarded: British War Medal, Victory Medal