The Londoner

Lieutenant Colonel W. G. Coles
Canadian Army Service Corps

…he is still suffering from nervousness, which takes the form of an indigestion and at times a depression of spirits. He has some sleeplessness, appetite poor, but is gaining slowly in weight. Condition is improving.

(Proceedings of Medical Board, London, ON, 5 Apr 1916)

Born in London, Canada West on 25 July 1865, William George Coles was a businessman and member of the city Board of Control. A long time militiaman, he deployed to France in early 1915 as part of the Canadian Army Service Corps. After several months in the field, he returned to Canada in January 1916 suffering from “nervous shock.”

Welcomed back to London, Ontario as a hometown hero, Coles was greeted by civic leaders and received a promotion to lieutenant colonel. Still troubled by nervous symptoms, he resigned his commission in May 1916.

The Great War Veterans Association nominated Coles to be their candidate in London during the December 1917 federal election campaign. To the anger of returned soldiers, the Unionist Government and the local Conservative machine instead put forward Hume Cronyn, a prewar militia major and veteran of the 1885 Rebellion. Although encouraged to remain in the race by supporters, Coles dropped out and Cronyn won the 17 December election.

Coles remained active in the GWVA and became president of the London branch in 1919. He died in London on 26 April 1956 at the age of ninety-one.

Digitized Service File (LAC):

2 thoughts on “The Londoner

  1. WG Coles was my great grandfather. We knew little about his activities during the War until I saw your site. My father, who passed away a few years ago, lost his father, also a veteran, when he was 7 and referred to WGC as “Dad.” We have WGC’s sword and photos of him as an officer. Suggestions of where further info could be found would be appreciated.

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