Ernest was born in Chelmsford in 1919, the second son of Charles Joseph Cole (1883-1972) and Dorothy Alice Cole (nee Harris) (1893-1962).
Ernest’s parents had married at St. John’s Church, Moulsham on 1st July 1916. At that time Ernest’s father was a 22 year-old soldier whose home was 166 Upper Bridge Road, Chelmsford; his mother, a year older, lived at 17 Moulsham Street, Chelmsford.
Ernest’s father's brother Richard Thomas Cole was killed at Gallipoli in the First World War and is commemorated on Chelmsford's War Memorial.
Ernest's siblings included Charles V. Cole (born in 1916), Maurice Henry Cole (1922-1975), Phyllis J Cole (born in 1924), Daphne Lucy Cole (1926-1992), Desmond Frederick Cole (1927-1979), and Kenneth G. Cole (1929-1936).
As a child Ernest lived in Ingatestone where, in April 1933, he joined Ingatestone Boys’ Own Club, and five months later he was elected to its committee; before moving to Chelmsford.
Having left school Ernest was employed on the London & North
Ernest William COLE, Gunner, Royal Artillery
Died in hospital in Chelmsford from heart problems. Aged 24
For a few minutes the boy was not missed, but when it was found that had gone, a search was made. Mr Cyril Green, of Brockley Road, Chelmsford, jumped into the pond, and feeling the body of the boy with his feet, brought him out. Artificial respiration was tried, but without effect.
At the inquest on Wednesday, before Mr. Coroner L. F. Beccle. Charles Joseph Cole, father of the deceased boy, stated that his family went out for the day on Sunday to Barnes Mill. He accompanied his wife and four children, including Kenneth the youngest. None of them could swim.
After tea Kenneth went away, having bathed in shallow pond, and was told not to go far. He was missed, and a search was made, but he could not be found. Witness concluded that the child was in the water, and got someone to dive for him.
Philip James Matthams, 18 Brownings Avenue, stated that he was also at Barnes Mill. After tea his son and the deceased said they were going to watch the diving in the lock They were told not to go too near the water. Witness's son came back and said he thought Kenneth was drowned; he was very distressed and could not at once point out were he last saw Kenneth. Eventually, he did so, and later told witness that Kenneth was trying to reach a piece of wood, which he thought was boat, when he fell into the water. Cyril C. Green Brockley Read, who got the body out of the water, said it was in a kneeling position on the river bed when he found it. Witness applied artificial respiration, but the boy was dead.
Dr. F. E. Camps said death was due to drowning. Insp. Feakes stated that others who rendered assistance were Frank Morris, 11 Parker Road; George William Jiggins. 61 Ockelford Avenue, George Cady and John Perry, both of 35 Hamlet Road. The Coroner returned a verdict of Accidental death.”
Kenneth was subsequently buried at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery in Writtle Road.
As a Territorial Ernest was called up on 2nd September 1939, the day before Britain declared war on Germany. He later served as Gunner 855294 in the Royal Artillery.
In January 1940 Ernest went to the Middle East with the Essex Yeomanry, seeing service in Palestine, Egypt and Libya.
In January 1942 he was sent to Burma, in response to Japan’s declaration of war the previous month. Japan’s advances into Burma led to Ernest’s unit being forced to withdraw to India across harsh jungled covered hills in May 1942. The hardships of this led to a breakdown in his health. His heart was overstrained and he suffered a slight wound to his leg. His unit reached Calcutta on 17th May 1942, where they were at once taken by train to Bombay. No longer fit, Ernest remained there until July 1943 when he left by ship for home as an invalid. The following month he reached South Africa where he spent some weeks in hospital at Pietermaritzburg, He finally reached England and was discharged from the army in November 1943.
On 22nd November 1943 he visited old friends at Ingatestone Boys’ Own Club.
Ernest died from heart problems at the Chelmsford and Essex Hospital on 9th February 1944, aged 24.
Ernest’s funeral took place on 12th February 1944. The coffin was covered with the Union Flag for the service at All Saints’ Boarded Barns, conducted by the Rev. Ashley Turner, preceding interment at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery (grave 4473) - the grave of his younger brother Kenneth.
Among the mourners was Ernest’s finance Joan Buck. A wreath and card was sent from Ingatestone Boy’s Own Club which read: “In proud and affectionate memory of a loyal and faithfull member - from Miss Pemberton and the Boys’ Own.”
At the time of his death Ernest’s parents were living at 20 Brownings Avenue in Chelmsford, and his father had been employed at Chelmsford electrical engineers Crompton Parkinson for 35 years.
Ernest’s elder brother, Maurice, was a prisoner of war In Germany, so missed the funeral.
Ernest William Cole was born in Chelmsford and lived in his childhood in Ingatestone. After leaving school he worked on the London & North Eastern Railway and became a Territorial soldier. He was called up at the outbreak of the war and was sent to the Middle East, serving in Palestine, Egypt and Libya. In January 1942 he was sent to Burma where after being wounded his health deteriorated. After repatriation he was discharged from the army in November 1943. He died the folliowing February in hospital in Chelmsford. His home was in Brownings Avenue, Chelmsford.
Eastern Railway restaurant trains.
On 17th April 1936 Ernest joined the 104th (Essex Yeomanry) Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery. This was a Territorial unit and Ernest was posted to 339 Battery as a gunner and later to 414 Battery.
Later that year, on 16th August, tragedy struck Ernest’s family, when his brother Kenneth drowned in the mill pond at Barnes Farm. A Chelmsford newspaper report:
“DROWNING FATALITY AT CHELMSFORD - BOY FALLS INTO MILL POND - While playing on the bank of the Mill Pond at Barnes Mill, Springfield, on Sunday evening Kenneth Cole, aged 6 years and 8 months, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Cole, Brownings Avenue, Chelmsford, slipped and fell into the water and disappeared.