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Edward Ball Cole

Submitted by: Carolyn Cole Kingston {granddaughter}

Edward Ball ColeEdward Ball Cole born in 1879. He served in the United States Marine Corps during World War I and was mortally wounded in 1918.

Story of Service


Major Edward Ball Cole, Commander of the 6th Battalion of the 4th Marine Brigade, died from wounds received in the Battle of Belleau Wood on June 10, 1918. He is buried at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau, France.

My grandfather, Edward B. Cole, entered the Marine Corps in 1904 as a 2nd Lieutenant. Over the course of the next 13 years he served in Porto Rico, Mexico, and the Philippines. Beginning in July of 1917, Major Cole spent several months in command of the 1st, (later renamed the 6 th), Machine Gun Battalion of Marines training at Quantico, Virginia. Highly respected for his knowledge of the machine gun, he had by then invented a tripod to hold one and a portable cart to carry one. He had also published a book, A Field Guide for Machine Gunners, and served at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

By the time of his departure for France on December 14, 1917, he was married to Mary Welsh, and had two sons: Charles H. Cole 2nd (my father) age 10, and Edward B. Cole Jr. age 8. Arriving in the port of St. Nazaire, France, he traveled by train to the Bourmont training area, where he and Captain Curtis (co-author of The History of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion) were housed in the village of Germainvilliers. In mid-March they moved to the Verdun sector where they were encamped at P.C. Moscou.

On June 1 the battalion was headquartered at Montgrivault Farm facing the village of Lucy le Bocage before the final offensive in Belleau Wood. Major Cole chose to join the front line of attack. It was there, in the attempt to take out a German machine gun nest hidden in a quarry in the woods, that he was mortally wounded throwing back a German “potato masher” grenade. He survived for 8 days, and succumbed to his wounds on June 18, 1918 in the hospital at Chateau de Montanglaust.

Major Cole received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France, and the Croix de Guerre with Palm. In 1919 he U.S. Navy named Destroyer No. 155 after him, and American Legion Post 120 in his hometown of Hingham, MA was named in his honor.

In 1931 my grandmother, Mary Welsh Cole, traveled with a group of Gold Star Mothers and Wives to France visit her husband’s grave. In 2016, nearly 100 years after his death, my sister Diana Cole and I made our pilgrimage to Belleau Wood and to his grave to honor his heroic sacrifice.

5a4808753cc18 Major EB Cole in uniform

Inscription MachineGunners bookMajor Edward B. Cole's inscription to his two sons in a copy of the Marine Corps manual that he authored, A Field Guide for Machine Gunners.

5a4808753f280 Christening of DestroyerUSSCole 1919USS Cole (DD-155) was a Wickes-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II, later reclassified as AG-116. She was named for Edward B. Cole, a United States Marine Corps officer who died as a result of the wounds he received at the Battle of Belleau Wood. Cole was launched 11 January 1919, by William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company of Philadelphia (above), sponsored by Mrs. E. B. Cole, and commissioned 19 June 1919 with Commander I. F. Dortch in command. The USS Cole is pictured below about 1920.

USS Cole DD155

Diana Carolyn at Major Coles GraveGranddaughters Diana and Carolyn at Major Cole's Grave in France, 1916.

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