Major A. Leslie Coote
47th (British Columbia) Battalion
Objecting to being relegated to duty in a safety zone while men he had recruited were “in the line”, Col. Coote entered a strenuous protest but militia trained senior officers were a drug on the market in England just then while juniors and men for the ranks were badly needed. This being the case, while hundreds of other Majors returned to Canada, Col. Coote resigned his commission, enlisted in the King Edward Horse as a trooper…
(Chilliwack Progress, 29 Apr 1920, 1)
Born in Tynemouth, England on 9 February 1868, Andrew Leslie Coote was a farmer and senior officer in the 104th Regiment. As second-in-command to Lieutenant Colonel W. N. Winsby in the 47th Battalion, Coote often assumed responsibility for the unit on the front when his superior was away at brigade conferences and headquarters meetings.
By Christmas 1916, Brigadier General W. St. Hughes removed Coote from command of the 47th for “indulging in drink too freely.” After nine months on the front and witnessing the horrors of the Somme, Coote received a diagnosis of neurasthenia. The medical report recorded, “His main trouble is nervousness, insomnia, headaches and bad dreams. He requires a long rest and quiet.”
By April 1917, Coote had recovered from his illness but he was unable to rejoin the 47th. The nearly fifty-year major old resigned his commission and enlisted as a trooper with the King Edward Horse regiment in France.
At the end of the war, he asked for restoration in status: “As I have to return to my own town at home where I am known as Major Coote I should like to return with the rank.” General Currie, who knew Coote from the prewar militia in British Columbia, granted the request in recognition of his service.
Upon returning to British Columbia, Coote become president of the local G.W.V.A. in Chilliwack and remained active in the militia until retirement in 1929. During the 1920 provincial election, Coote ran for the Conservative Party in Chilliwack but was narrowly defeated.
He died in his hometown on 18 March 1965 at the age of ninety-six.