William Colling – Sunderland
Joseph William Colling was the father of Brenda Crinall of Little Crakehall, who called in at the museum with a friend who wanted to contribute a story to the Ribbon of Rememberance. Brenda didn’t really know a great deal about her father’s participation in the war, but was interested when we offered to take a look and see if any records still existed from that time. As fortune would have it, her father’s service record was available to see and so we were able to piece together some of his experiences from the time of the First World War.
Before enlisting Colling worked as a sorting clerk and telegraphist for the G.P.O. in Sunderland. Prior to going to German East Africa (G.E.A.) in 1916 he served for 13 months in France. Some of the most dangerous activities he undertook was to lay cables as close to the enemy lines as possible. These cables were essential for information and orders to be relayed to and from the battlefront. In 1916 the German plan for war in G.E.A. was to divert Allied forces away from the Western Front in Europe. Colling sailed from Devonport on the 8th of February 1916 and he arrived in Durban on the 6th of March.On the 14th of March he arrived at Kildini inlet near Mombassa. Over the next few months he and his comrades came under heavy attack several times as they advanced south towards German forces.This included fierce action near Kilosa.
At times they ran short of rations, suffered terrible weather conditions and eventually he contracted malaria in September.He was hospitalised in Dar es Salaam, Durban and Wynberg hospital in Cape Town. When he eventually returned to England at the end of 1916 he was detailed for home service.
He died on the 15 of August 1949 aged 53. His grave bears the inscription, “All great men are not good, but all good men are great”
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Submitted by Olivia Wallis of Richmond. Thomas Cole, son of Ben and Jane Cole, was born in Gainford, Durham in 1882, though the farming family resided in the local village of Newsham. On 9th June 1906, Thomas married Margaret Ellen Watson in St Cuthbert’s Church, Durham and, by 1911, Thomas and Margaret were the parents of Thomas, aged 3, Mary, aged 2, and Ben, aged only 11 months. Following the outbreak of war, though the exact date uncertain, Thomas enlisted at the neighbouring village of Dalton, and joined the 9th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. Throughout his time with the 9th Battalion, Thomas wrote often to his devoted wife and children. In October 1916, Thomas wrote to tell his wife that he had become teetotal, news he expected to surprise his wife, explaining ‘I can’t drink French beer!’ Perhaps more poignantly, Thomas also expressed to Margaret his hopes of the future and a hope that future generations would never suffer the horrors of war. Thomas never got to pursue his hopes, he was killed on 23rd June 1917, aged 35. The battalion war diary for 23rd June does not detail events of that day, it simply collates casualties for the month as 6 men killed, 1 wounded and 2 missing. Private Thomas Cole is buried at Dickebusch New Military Cemetery, Belgium and commemorated locally on the war memorial in Newsham village.
Horace Stoney was born on 7th December 1897. He was baptised in February 1898 at the Free Methodist Chapel, in Leeds close to where they were living at the time. At the age of 13 he was working as an office boy for an engineer and living at home with his parents in Leeds. On 10th December 1915, three days after he turned 18 Horace went to Leeds, joined the Royal Army Service Corp (RASC) and was posted to the Army Reserve. His service record includes the statement: “Transferred to Learners’ Section” on 10th October 1916. A contract survives, signed by Horace the day previous, declaring that he joined the RASC with a view to be trained as a Motor Transport Driver. Success would guarantee him an additional 1 shilling per day in pay, and provide him with a skill to use after the war. The RASC ensured that ammunition, food and equipment was delivered forming a complex supply network. Horace survived the war, although he contracted malaria, and was discharged in 1919. The 1939 Register lists him as living with his parents, John and Sarah, and his aunt Harriet, at his childhood home in Leeds. He was working as a Clerk Store Highway Constable and although he is listed married, his wife is not mentioned on the record.
Ewen George Sinclair-Maclagan was born on the 24th December 1868 in Edinburgh. He was educated at the United Services College, Westward Ho! North Devon and commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Border Regiment in 1898. He served in India, including the expedition to Waziristan in 1894-5, and was promoted Captain in 1898. He saw action in the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902) as an Adjutant in the 1st Battalion Border Regiment. He was severely wounded at Spion Kop, mentioned in dispatches and received the Distinguished Service Order. In 1901 he was posted to Australia when their Army was being organised, being appointed Adjutant to the New South Wales Scottish Rifles. On the 29th January 1902 he married Edith Kathleen, daughter of Major General Sir George French, at St’ Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral in Sydney. They would have one daughter. In 1904 Maclagan resumed regimental duty in Britain. Promoted Major in 1908 he then transferred to the Yorkshire Regiment. In 1910 Major General Sir William Bridges, who had known Maclagan in Australia, was recruiting for staff for the Royal Military College in Duntroon, Canberra. He made Maclagan director of drill with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. When Bridges raised the 1st Division Australian Imperial Force (AIF) he chose Maclagan to command the 3rd Infantry Brigade. On the 25th April 1915 landed at Gallipoli. A ridge leading from Anzac Cove is named after him. He would stay on the peninsula until evacuated sick in August 1915. He did not return to his Brigade in Egypt…