Private Cyril William Coles, Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch)
Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Private Cyril William Coles, Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) was killed in action during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on the Somme.
The son of a corn miller, he had been working with his father at Creekmoor Mill before enlisting in the army in February of 1916. He went on to join the secret organisation that was to take the first tanks to war. After five months of training he travelled to France in August where he formed one of the eight-man crew of Tank D15. They went into action and engaged the enemy in the first tank attack in history on the 15th of September. His tank was struck and disabled by enemy artillery – as the tank burned and the crew managed to escape, they were cut down by enemy machine guns which were waiting for them. Private Coles and his fellow gunner were buried beside the wrecked tank. After the Armistice, their remains were relocated to the Bull Road cemetery to the east of Flers in France. The remaining crew members survived the attack.
Cyril, from Creekmoor, Canford Magna, Dorset, was 23 years old.