|Date of Birth
|August 14, 1892
|Place of Birth
|Next of Kin
|Reg. Sergt. Maj. F Coles, father, 30th Cavalry Reserve, England
|Trade / Calling
|Link to Service Record
|Canadian Expeditionary Force
|Enlisted / Conscripted
|Place of Enlistment
|Address at Enlistment
|107 4th Avenue East, Calgary, Alberta
|Date of Enlistment
|May 12, 1917
|Age at Enlistment
|Theatre of Service
|Date of Death
|December 5, 1956
|Age at Death
|Colwood Burial Park, Colwood, British Columbia
Edward Claud Coles was born on 14 August 1892 in Beith, Ayrshire in Scotland. His father Francis (Frank) Coles was from Croydon, England while his mother Ellen Dumbrill was from Brighton, England. Both living in Newbridge, County Kildare in Ireland at the time, the couple married on 4 May 1880 in nearby Morristown Biller. Frank was working as a Sergeant Major with the 20th Hussars at Newbridge Barracks. Daughter Beatrice was born the next year in Newbridge. By the birth of son Francis Henry in 1882, the family was living in Fethard, County Tipperary, with son Charles Albert born there in 1883. The family then moved to Beith where Frank was working as a Sergeant Instructor of Yeomanry. Children born in Beith were Alfred Ernest (1884), Ethel (1886), Walter James (1887), Ellen Ruth (Nellie) (1889), Edward, Arthur John (1894), and Emma Alice (1896).
Although Frank may have previously travelled to Canada, the first immigration record for the family was found for young Francis. Travelling alone in 2nd Cabin, he arrived in Quebec aboard the Siberian on 16 August 1896. He was on his way to Wolseley in the North West Territories. Ellen and the rest of the children arrived on the Sarmatian on the 4th of June 1898 while Frank arrived on the same ship on the 13th of September of the same year. Their destination for all was given as Wolseley in the North West Territories, later known as Saskatchewan. The family farmed in the Wolseley/Qu’Appelle area for a number of years. At the time of the 1916 census Edward was living in Calgary, Alberta and working as a stenographer. His parents and some of his siblings moved to Salmon Arm in British Columbia by the time of the 1921 census.
Edward signed his attestation papers on 12 May 1917 in Calgary. His occupation was given as stenographer and his father Sergeant Major with the 30th Cavalry Reserve in England as next of kin. Previous military service was given as 2 years 7 months with Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in Winnipeg and active milita as 4th Field Troop, Canadian Engineers.
With the December Signal Draft to the Canadian Engineers Training Depot, Edward arrived in England aboard the Megantic on 7 December 1917. He spent a few months training with the 7th Reserve Battalion. In April of 1918 he was posted to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and then struck off strength to the 21st Battalion on June 5th. On 8 August 1918 the opening phase of the Allied offensive later known as the 100 Days Offensive began that ultimately led to the end of the First World War. On August 9th Edward was wounded, sustaining two gun shot wounds to the right arm and a concussion from “being blown up”, all resulting in shell shock. Invalided to England, Edward was admitted to the Graylingwell Hospital in Chichester on August 11th. He was transferred to the No 11 Canadian Hospital Moore Barracks on the 19th and then that September on to Nottinghamshire County War Hospital at Radcliffe-on-Trent, formerly known as the Nottinghamshire County Asylum. Diagnosed with Dementia Praecox, Edward was prone to hallucinations, severe maniacal symptoms including marked verbigeration, echolalia, and and extreme incoherence. In October Edward was transferred to the Lord Derby War Hospital in Warrington where it was decided that he was to be returned to Canada for further treatment. Embarking aboard the Araguaya on November 26th, he was admitted to the Cobourg Military Hospital on December 9th. With rank of Private, Edward was discharged from service on 29 January 1919 at Kingston, Ontario as being medically unfit for further service and in order that further treatment may be carried on by the “S.C.R. Auth. Med. Board (Custodial care).
Two of Edward’s brothers served during the war. Charles enlisted with the 172nd Battalion in February of 1916 in Kamloops, British Columbia. He was transferred to the 143rd Battalion (Railway Construction) but was only to serve in England. With poor vision, having been kicked in the ribs while on duty, and having varicose veins, he was returned to Canada and discharged as medically unfit in February of 1918. Brother Arthur enlisted with the Royal Flying Corps in November of 1917 in Winnipeg and served with the Corps in Canada until discharged in June of 1918, services no longer required. He was next called up for service with the 1st Depot Battalion 1st Central Ontario Regiment in November of 1918 and served briefly with the 2nd Garrison Regiment, discharged on 8 December 1918.
Living in Salmon Arm, British Columbia at the time, in February of 1924, Edward crossed into the United States on his way to San Francisco. His occupation on the record was given as Salvation Army officer. On 26 May 1926, in Sacramento, he married Beatrice Mavern Stephenson. Born on 25 February 1909 in Lebanon, Indiana, Beatrice was the daughter of David Stephenson and Orpha Ayerns. Edward and Beatrice gave birth to daughter Phyllis Lee on 8 February 1928 in Sacramento. However, the marriage did not last, with Beatrice filing for divorce the next year. For the 1930 US census Beatrice and Phyllis were living with her parents in Sacramento. Beatrice later married Victor Adams and the couple gave birth to a son and three daughters. After Victor’s death Beatrice married again, surname of her husband as Carano. She died in 1971 and is interred in the Calvary Cemetery in Bogdea, California. Daughter Phyllis married twice, with the surname of Peterson, her second one in 1955 to Gerald Phillips. Phyllis died in 1997 in Lincoln Park in Michigan.
At some point Edward returned to Canada, with a notation in Edward’s WW1 service record indicating that by November of 1929 he was back living in Salmon Arm. At the time of the 1931 census he was living in the Kenora area in northwestern Ontario where he was living at a Government Road Construction Camp and working as a road labourer. During the summer of 1953 Edward was committed to the Provincial Mental Hospital in Essondale, British Columbia.
Edward died on 5 December 1956 at the hospital in Essondale. His Veteran Death card gave his daughter Phyllis Lee Phillips of Saginaw, Michigan as next of kin. He was predeceased by both of his parents in 1944 in Victoria, British Columbia, his brother Charles in 1925 in Sumas, British Columbia, his sisters Beatrice (Archibald) Dale in Saskatchewan, and Ethel (Henry George) Ellis in 1944 in Vancouver. Siblings Emma (Stanley) Flitcroft later died in 1962 (Victoria, British Columbia), Alfred in 1966 in (Everett, Washington), Francis (aka Francis Scott) in 1971 (North Battlefield, Saskatchewan), Arthur in 1975 (Wainwright, Saskatchewan), Walter in 1976 (Outlook, Saskatchewan), and Ellen (Edward) Grier in 1981 (Salmon Arm, British Columbia).
Along with his parents, Edward is interred in Hatley Memorial Gardens (also known as Colwood Burial Park) in Colwood, British Columbia.
By Judy Thorburn