Thank you to Karen Wilson from Betchworth Village Archives for allowing us to publish her research.
George Ernest Coles was born in Battlebridge, Merstham in March 1890 and was baptised in St. Matthew’s church, Redhill on May 25th 1890. He was the fifth of eleven children born to John and Rhoda Coles; their first child, John William is recorded on the 1881 census aged one, when they lived at Skilton’s Cottages, Wescott.
At the time of George’s birth the family were living in Holmethorpe and John Coles was described as being a general labourer. By 1901 the family were living at 5, Albert Road in Merstham and John Coles was described as being a bricklayer’s labourer – a physically demanding job. So it is not surprising that by 1911, when George is 21, the family are living at Feltons Cottage, Gadbrook and John, George and his 16 year old brother Walter were all working as farm labourers. Also living at Feltons Cottage at this time were his three younger sisters, Prudence, Florence and the youngest, Alice, aged seven.
Like so many other young men, George enlisted in September 1914. He Joined the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, 7th Battalion. He was sent to the front in July 1915 and a year later, aged 26, was killed on July 1st at the battle of the Somme.
George’s final place of burial is at Dantzig Alley Cemetery, named after a German trench of the same name near Mametz. At the Armistice, the cemetery consisted of 183 graves but it was then greatly increased by graves (almost all of 1916) brought in from the battlefields north and east of Mamet. George was one of the re-burials. The cemetery now holds 1535 casualties from the Somme.
Born Merstham, Surrey
Lived Gadbrook, Surrey
Son of John and Rhoda Coles
Regiment 7th Battalion, The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Date of Death 1st July 1916
Place of Death The Somme, France
Cause of Death Killed in Action
Cemetery Dantzig Alley Cemetery, France