Gunner Cyril William Coles1893 - 1916
Name Gunner Cyril William Coles  Title Gunner Born Jun 1893 Creekmoor Mill, Creekmoor, Dorset, England  Gender Male Census 31 Mar 1901 Creekmoor Mill, Creekmoor, Dorset, England  aged 8, born Canford Census 02 Apr 1911 Creekmoor Mill, Creekmoor, Dorset, England  working in corn mill, aged 18, born Creekmoor Military Service Bef 1916 Wimborne, Dorset, England  enlisted as a Gunner in the Machine Gun Corps Military Service May 1916 Siberia Camp, Bisley, Surrey, England  joined D Company, Tank Corps, on formation, trained on 6lb guns by Royal Navy Military Service No Bef May 1916 32414, Machine Gun Corps Military Service Jun 1916 Elveden, Suffolk, England  secret training on first tanks Military Service No Aft May 1916  205764, Tank Corps Military Service Aug 1916 Yvrench, France  final training across old trench lines Cause of Death 15 Sep 1916  killed in action, Battle of Flers-Courcelette
- Cyril died during the first ever tank battle. He was hit by small arms fire, as he and his comrades escaped from a burning tank which had been hit by shell.
Died 15 Sep 1916 Flers, Somme, France [1, 4] Burial Aft 15 Sep 1916 Flers, Somme, France 
- He was intially buried where he fell, in the fields between Flers and Longueval.
Buried Aft 11 Nov 1918 Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers, Somme, France [1, 4]
- After the Armistice, his body was brought in from the fields and reburied in the cemetery.
Person ID I1705 Caro's Tree
Father William Clement Coles, b. 15 Jun 1860 Relationship Natural Mother Sarah Ann Durant, b. 1854, Fordingbridge, Hampshire, England Relationship Natural Family ID F596 Group Sheet
Event Map = Link to Google Maps = Link to Google Earth
- [S32] Website, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, www.cwgc.org.
Coles, Cyril William, Gunner, Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch), "D" Coy. No.3 Sec, Age: 23, Date of Death: 15/09/1916, Service No: 205764, Son of Mr. W. C. Coles, of "Stoneleigh," Wimborne Rd., Poole, Dorset. Grave/Memorial Reference: III. E. 6. Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers. Flers is a village in the Department of the Somme, about 8 kilometres north-east of Albert. From the D929, direction Bapaume-Albert, leave Bapaume and after 1.3 kilometres follow the signs for Ligny Thilloy. Continue through the village until you give way to the D10, then turn right and follow signs for Flers. 200 metres into the village of Flers is a sign for Bulls Road Cemetery. Follow the winding route off to the left for 500 metres and the cemetery is on the right hand side, 20 metres off the road.Flers was captured on 15 September 1916 in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, when it was entered by the New Zealand and 41st Divisions behind tanks, the innovative new weapons that were used here for the first time. The village was lost during the German advance of March 1918 and retaken at the end of the following August by the 10th West Yorks and the 6th Dorsets of the 17th Division. The cemetery was begun on 19 September 1916 and was used by fighting units (mainly Australian) until March 1917. The 154 burials made during these months now form Plot I. Plot II, Row A, Graves 1-17 were added in September 1918 by the 17th Division burial officers. The rest of the cemetery consists of graves (mainly of September 1916, or August 1918) brought in after the Armistice from the fields between Flers and Longueval. There are now 776 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 296 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 15 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
- [S14] 1901 Census, RG13/1977, Folio 6, Page 4.
Creekmoor, Canford Magna
- [S15] 1911 Census.
- [S32] Website, The First Tank Crews, http://www.firsttankcrews.com.
In May 1916, the first six companies were formed at Siberia Camp near Bisley in Surrey. The majority of the soldiers of 1st Battalion the Heavy Section MGC came from the Motor Machine Gun Service (MMGS) and the Machine Gun Corps (MGC) - few of whom had seen action. Others, who enlisted under the Derby Scheme, commenced training less than 4 months before they deployed. Their officers had little battle experience; a couple were from the Royal Naval Air Service; one had seen action in the Cameroons; several had seen action in France and Gallipoli mainly as other ranks. Most of the tank "Skippers" were newly commissioned into the MGC on 14 April 1916 and not one had seen a tank or knew what they were expected to do. After initial weapon training at Bullhousen Farm near Bisley, and tuition on the 6lb gun by the Royal Navy, the companies moved to Elveden in Suffolk where a secret training location had been established. In June 1916 the first tanks arrived, including the prototype "Mother". That month the tank drivers, all members of the Army Service Corps, arrived at Elveden. Mainly from the tractor depot at Avonmouth Docks, some found it difficult to adjust to their new duties and were returned to their unit. In the next eight weeks, the crew members learned to drive and "fight" their vehicles but not every crew was able to work together nor train on the specially built mock battle area. C and D Companies were the first to be sent into action. From mid August the tanks and their crews deployed to France and, after final training across old trench lines near Yvrench, went into action on the morning of 15 September 1916. 49 tanks were tasked to support an attack designed to capture German strong points between Courcelette and Combles. Several of the tanks broke down en route to their starting points; others were unable to cope with the dreadful ground conditions and became stuck. Many were damaged by enemy artillery fire as they made their way across No Man's Land but a few managed to get beyond the German front line trenches and assist the infantry take their objectives. Two tanks were hit by direct fire as they fought their way past German positions to the east of Flers and, the next day, all three who got into action were destroyed by artillery fire to the north of the village, again as they supported as attacking infantry units. D15 (No 537 Female). D15 was one of 3 tanks (with D19 Capt Sellick and D2 (Lt Bell) were tasked to move through the centre of Flers. Sellick and Bell’s tanks ditched in shell holes on route to the start point. D15 was hit by German artillery as it crossed the German front line en route for Flers; as its crew abandoned the burning vehicle, two were killed and the remainder were wounded by enemy small arms fire. The tank was subsequently recovered. (later tank D15 was named "Donner Blitzen" but there is no evidence that Tank 537 was named thus at the first action). Lt Jack Bagshaw. Born in Uttoxeter Jul to Sep 1896; the youngest child (fourth son) son of William Bagshaw an auctioneer and valuer (who also ran the Red Lion pub in the Market Place) and his wife Mary Ann (William was later Chairman of Uttoxeter Urban District Council). Jack initially joined the MMGS as a private (No 1395) and was commissioned into MMGS 10th Oct ‘15. Bagshaw was wounded in the action on 15th Sep. He was promoted T/Lt 1 Jul ‘16 (LG 7486 dated 28 Jul ‘16). Later served with E Bn and promoted captain. Wilfred Bion records in his War Memoires. “Capt Bagshaw (was) a very easy-going and hopelessly slack fellow who had been with the original tanks. He was good hearted but weak-minded and incompetent and got in the wrong set”. Returned to France on 26 Jun 1917; after training they deploy to Hazebrouk arriving on 31 Jul – the day 3rd Ypres started. On 20th Sep he directed Bion to lead the section forward; Bagshaw was in the rear tank. Jack was also section commander at Cambrai; he came through the first day uninjured (unlike most of the section commanders). Bion says he was not deployed during the actions on 30 Nov . Relinquished a/capt on 22 Mar ‘18 on ceasing to comd a sect, this was the opening day of the German advance or Kaiserslacht - Bion’s diary confirms Bagshaw losing his section in early 1918. Bagshaw relinquished commission on completion of service 19 Sep ‘20 and awarded the rank of Capt. Home address was Heath Lodge Uttoxeter in Staffs. In 1927 Jack joined family firm of Bagshaws as a partner. Possibly married (Apr to Jun 1927) to Anne G Willeter in Steyning Sussex. 40011 LCpl Charles Frederick Jung MGC later Cpl Tank Corps. Possibly born Parkstone Poole in April to Jun 1889. the youngest of five children (third son) of Frederick Jung, a Silesiean brickmaker and his wife Sarah. In 1891 living in Cranborne. Married Bridget E Enright at Alverstoke, Hants Jan to Mar 1918. Awarded emblem (MID?) Their son Terence CE Jung born Jul to Sep 1920 at Westhampnett Sussex. 2950 Gnr Charles Edward Bond. Born Sep to Dec 1888 in Bridgewater Somerset, son of a Boot maker. Enlisted MGC 11 Dec 1915 aged 27 years 2 months; height 5 ft 8 1/s inches. father was shown as George William Bond of Taunton Road, Bridgwater. Deployed 1 Sep 1916; Wounded in action and returned to UK on 22 Oct 1916. Posted to G Bn 8 Jan 1917; then posted to Depot Bn 3 Mar 1917. Medical Board records 23 Aug 1917 shows suffering from TB -having suffered from measles. Discharged as no longer physically fir for war service 15 Dec 1917 and not to be compulsorily posted for war service under Military Service Act 1917. SWB awarded. Probable death Sep 1918 at Bridgewater. 32414 Gnr Cyril William Coles born Creekmoor Dorset; enlisted Wimborne. KIA by SAA fire aged 23 on 15th Sep 1916; buried at Bull Road Cemetery. Son of Mr WC Coles of "Stoneleigh" Wimborne Rd, Poole, Dorset. 32169 Gnr Charles William Hoban, born Leamington Spa Oct – Dec 1887 son of Charles and Kate Hoban; Married in Apr – Jun 1912 to Caroline Collins in Coventry with a son Charles born Jan to Mar 1915. enlisted Warwick. – KIA on 15 Sep 1916 by SAA fire and commemorated at Thiepval memorial. 40421 Gnr Arthur Smith later served as Pte Tank Corps (same number) 2094 Gnr Tom Fleming Wilson born Grasmere, Westmoreland in Dec 1888. Enlisted Coventry DoW 22 Sept 1916 presumably as a result of injuries sustained in action; buried at Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L'abbe. No age of family details.
MS/241 Pte Albert Rowe ASC. Born C 1898/9. Enlisted as an ASC special reservist as a motor mechanic. Home was 1 Kincaid Rd, Meeting House Lane, Brixton. NoK shown as a Mrs D A Rowe. Called up on 10 Aug 1914. Deployed to France on 1 Sep 1916 (shown as part of 711 MT Coy ASC the tank's support unit. On 15 Sep 1916, whilst driving D15, he was wounded. On 19 Sep 1916 he was admitted to 11 Stationary Hospital suffering from shell shock, evacuated back to the UK on 22 Sep 1916 and taken on strength 621 Coy ASC Remained in ASC with HQ Coy HAMT at Bulford on 1 Jul 1917 when he was appointed ACpl. On 21 Jul he embarked on Husgrove and disembarked 3 days later at Le Havre, Attached to I Bn Tank Corps. On 31 Aug 1917 attached to HQ Tank Corps and remained with them until 27 Jan when he returned to the UK for leave. On 25 Feb 1918 he returned to the Tank Corps HQ and then on 26 May was attached to HQ 3 Bde Tank Corps. On 31 Jan 1919 he returned to the UK with 17 Armd Car Bn. In Feb 1919 he caught influensa whilst serving in Dublin with 614 MT Coy ASC. He was hospitalised but suffered no long term ill effects and was refused a Army pension. He was discharged from the ASC in Mar 1919.
- [S32] Website, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, www.cwgc.org.