PRIVATE PERCY COLE
23RD AUGUST 1918 AGE 19
BURIED: BAGNEUX BRITISH CEMETERY, GEZAINCOURT, SOMME, FRANCE
You can imagine the scene at 33 Maple Road, Blackheath, Birmingham as Percy Cole prepared to leave for the front: Mrs Ellen Cole fussing and fretting whilst her son tried hard to reassure her, "I shall be alright mother". Did he mean I'll be able to look after myself, I've got everything I need, or don't worry I won't get killed; all three I expect.
Percy Cole was nineteen when he died. He would have been conscripted at 18 and allowed to go to the front at 19 so he wouldn't have been there for long before he was killed. He served with the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and died of wounds 30 km from Beaumont-Hamel where at 3 am on 21 August the 1st Lincolnshires,
"formed up in their preliminary assembly positions in Wagon road (the road between Beamont Hamel and Serre), B and D formed the first wave, C and A the second wave. By zero, companies were formed up in their assembly positions, i.e., Serre road, due east of Wagon road.
At zero the battalion advanced and reached a ravine (probably the Puisieux road) without opposition: a few prisoners were taken en route. But now hostile machine-gun fire came from a line of German trenches ahead."
[History of the Lincolnshire Regiment 1914-1918]
The 1st Lincolnshire's objective had been to take a sunken road running north-west from Baillescourt Farm, north-east of Beaucourt. Lost to the Germans earlier in the year, Beaucourt was successfully retaken, thus the Lincolnshires played their part the Second Battle of Albert, which restarted the stalled Allied advance and really was the beginning of the end. However, by the end of the month the Lincolnshires had suffered three officers and twenty-nine other ranks killed, one officer and two other ranks died of wounds, together with twenty missing and a total of 171 wounded.
Percy Cole was one of the two other ranks who died of wounds; his final words to his mother tragically belied.