World War I’s Cecil Cole

Post #94 American Legion named for him
The first soldier to enlist from Greenville, last to return

Cecil Ray Cole, son of Charles D. and Dorothy (Bowker) Cole, was the first soldier to enlist in World War I from Greenville, and the last to return. The American Legion Post #94 on Pritham Avenue in Greenville was named in his honor.

2011_81_0006 Cole, Cecil RJPEG

Cecil R. Cole 2011.81.0006

He enlisted in the Navy on April 7, 1917, soon after war was declared by the United States. Because of his eyesight he was at first rejected for duty, but he re-enlisted on June 7 in the Rhode Island Coast Artillery. On the call for volunteers for engineers, at his own request he was transferred to the 101st Co. E U.S. Engineers on August 1, whereby he entered training at the Wentworth Institute in Boston. In late September he sailed to France, where he received intensive troop training. He was killed in action in his first battle, at Chateau Thierry, July 19, 1918.

He was buried at Lucy-le-Bocage Aisne, France and, according to a news article, his body was returned to Greenville two years later. Townspeople turned out in appreciation of his sacrifice in a memorial service held at the Union Church, with an address given by the Rev. Harry C. Vrooman and special readings by Mrs. Fred D. Bigney and Mrs. Squires.

Cecil Cole was born in Webster Plantation (near Springfield, Maine) on May 28, 1896. The family moved to Kingman and by 1911 had moved to Greenville, where they remained. He was educated in public schools in Kingman and Greenville.


A Poem From France

One day I got to feeling queer
And took a funny notion.
I got the idea in my head
That I wanted to cross the ocean.
That funny idea worked on my brain
And things got all twisted,
And never was I satisfied
Until I had enlisted.
And then one day the order came
That we would have to start,
For in the mighty struggle
Uncle Sam had taken part.
So we crossed the mighty Atlantic
Where the Kaiser’s U-Boats roam,
And we landed here in Sunny France
Five thousand miles from home.
They call it Sunny France at home,
But that is the wrong name,
For to tell the truth,
It hasn’t shone ten minutes since we came.
But some day we are going back
To give you all three cheers;
To brighten up your faces
And drive away your tears.
And when we see the sundowns
In good old USA,
We will put up with most anything
And be satisfied to stay.
And when they mention France to us
We’ll simply let them pass,
And if they do not like it,
They better not give us any sass.

This poem was included in a letter written to
his brother the day before Cecil died.