William Coleman MM (1890–1966)


Royal Field Artillery 26884 C Battery, 83rd Brigade

Derbyshire Courier 28 November 1916

Newspaper photo of William Coleman in WW1

Bill enlisted with the colours for three years at Ripley, aged twenty-three, on 18th September 1914. He was a quarryman and a Wesleyan. He was sent to France on 25th July 1915 and awarded the Military Medal in January 1917. This was reported in the London Gazette dated 22nd January 1917. The medal was for keeping up communications under heavy barrage fire. He was successful in getting messages through after the telephone wires were cut by enemy fire and in the battle was hit by shrapnel. Maurice Deacon of Chase Cliffe presented him with his medal. He married Ethel Greasley in July 1919 at St Andrew's Church, Swanwick and is one of the four Coleman brothers on the Roll.

Like his brother Tom he wrote to Annie Porter.

Annie Porter letters [Letters courtesy David Brown]

12 October 1914, Colchester
Dear Annie, I wish from the bottom of my heart they would send us to the Front to have a go at Kaiser Bills men. I do not think we shall stop here long we have been told we are shortly going to Scotland I wish we were going to morrow. The sport we have it is in barracks. There is nothing in the town. It is as bad as Crich.
Your Dear Old Friend Will

29 November 1914, Colchester
Dear Friend, How are they all going on at Crich. I had a letter from Tom last week he said he might only get off for an hour or two I hope and trust they will give them a day or two. We are having 7 days we expect going to Foreign parts when we get back. The Sergeant-Major told us 3 week ago we were going to Egypt. I hope so I want to have a ride across the herring pond. I have not much fresh news as there not much going off in Colchester it is almost as dead as Crich.
From your friend Will

Medal Index Card
He was awarded the Victory, British War and 15 Star Medals.

Supplement to the London Gazette

22 January 1917
Military Medal – 26884 Gunner W. Coleman RFA

Service Record
William enlisted with the Colours for three years at Ripley 18 September 1914 aged 23 years 330 days, a quarryman; He was 5ft 9¼in, weighing 133 lb with blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion. His religion was recorded as Wesleyan.
Home 18 September 1914 to 24 July 1915
To France 25 July 1915
Military Medal awarded in the Field, supplement to London Gazette 22 January 1917
Father Aaron, near The Cross, Crich.

Newspaper Reports

Derbyshire Courier 25 November 1916
Mr and Mrs A. COLEMAN, of the Cross, Crich, received on Tuesday a letter from their fourth son, Gunner William COLEMAN in which he informs them that he is wounded. He also writes to his sister Mrs Henry WETTON saying: “No doubt you will be surprised to hear that I am slightly wounded. I was hit by shrapnel in the right shoulder during the big battle on Monday. I am pleased to say it was not of a serious nature. I have been in hospital for four days, and today the 17th they have sent me to a convalescent home. I am having a fine time and hope to be with my battery again shortly.” Gunner COLEMAN is one of four brothers across in France. Cpl Luke COLEMAN, the eldest, having been reported killed. William joined the army immediately after the war commenced and has not been over on leave for nearly two years. He has been in France for seventeen months and although has taken part in some severe fighting he has steered clear of the casualty list until this month. Another brother, Isaac, who is serving with a labour battalion, has also written to his sister Mrs WETTON, telling her of a lucky escape he has had. He writes that he was a lucky chap that he did not get his back broken, for he says “I was blown up in the air fifteen feet by an explosion, but got worse than being badly shaken. But don’t worry I’m all right”.

Derbyshire Courier, 9 January 1917
A Crich soldier, Signaller W Coleman , who came over on leave on New Year’s day, has been awarded the Military Medal for keeping up communications under heavy barrage fire. Signaller Coleman , along with two companions, was successful in getting messages through after the telephone wires were cut by enemy fire. This was about the middle of November, and in the battle Signaller Coleman was hit by shrapnel. As Gunner and Signaller he has been in France for over 18 months. He goes back to active service on Wednesday.

Derbyshire Courier, 29 December 1917
A feature of the holiday has been the unusually large number of local soldiers who have been fortunate in securing Christmas leave. The list includes Sgt C. Mason, from Ecclesall (Staffs), convalescent home; Private J W Heathcote, A S C (Mechanical Transport), from France; and driver William Coleman, France – the two latter were over together just a year ago – and Sapper Hy V. Smith in the Signalling Service, R.E., who came from France on Monday, after eight months across the Channel. Driver Jas H Dawes, Driver James Bingham, Lance Corporal W Hallam, Cpl Jas Holmes, and Bugler William Hartshorne have also been over on leave. The latter, who is staying with Mr A Buckley, of Park Head, is attached to the Canadian Forces. Along with his parents he emigrated from Park Head, cried, to the Dominion before the war, and like his brother, Tom, he enlisted in the Canadians during the earlier stages of the war.

Derbyshire Courier, 2 August 1919
The wedding took place at St Andrew's Church, Swanwick, on Saturday of Mr William Coleman, fourth son of Mr and Mrs Aaron Coleman, of the Cross, Crich. and Miss Ethel Greasley second daughter of Mr and Mrs Arthur Greasley, Swanwick. The bridegroom served over four years in the army and gained the Military Medal. ... The best man was Mr Percy Coleman, bridegroom's brother.

Belper News, 8 August 1919
The people of Crich, who throughout the Great War have displayed unswerving loyalty and patriotism, had an enjoyable time on Saturday. In connection with the Crich branch of the Comrades of the Great War garden party and fete took place in the grounds of Chase Cliffe, by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Maurice Deacon. The programme included sports, sideshows, dancing, etc. The Crich United Silver Band, under the conductorship of Mr Samuel Hollingsworth, was in attendance and provided excellent music.
An important feature was the presentation by Mr Deacon of the military medal to Mr W Coleman, late RFA. Mr Deacon said he had much pleasure in presenting the medal to Signaller Coleman, which had been awarded for bravery in the field. He was confident they would all join with him in congratulating the recipient in gaining this great distinction, which he had earned by his devotion to duty. They must not forget that Signaller Coleman, amongst others were joined from Crich had been fighting for King and country, and that their thanks were due to such men for the brave way in which they carried out their duty and for the results which had accrued. From Crich no less than 369 men joined the forces and taken part one way or another in the war. Mr Deacon recall the fact that five years ago they held a meeting at Crich, when he amongst others impressed upon the younger men their duty to take part in the defence of the country against Germany and the other enemies. Millions of lives had been lost, but the allies had been absolutely successful. Mr Deacon hoped they will show their thanks for the winning of the war by putting their efforts into the work of reconstruction of the country in order that it may soon be restored to its normal prosperity. This country would not be bought to that state without the united devotion to work of all. Let them take an example from the way in which the men of Crich had risked their lives. Let them do likewise – to help England back to the premier position in the commerce of the world. America was a keen rival, and soon they would have Germany with the cleverness once more as a competitor.
Mr Deacon then pinned the military medal to Signaller Coleman’s coat and in this pleasurable task he was assisted by Mrs Deacon.
Mr Coleman suitably returned thanks and said he had only done his duty.

For the full report see Crich Peace Celebrations

William Coleman's brothers Luke Coleman, Tom Coleman and Isaac Coleman are also on the Roll of Honour.


1891: Crich

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Aron Coleman Head 34 Limestone quarryman Crich
Elizabeth Coleman wife 31   Crich
John Coleman son 12 scholar Crich
Isaac Coleman son 10 scholar Crich
Mary Coleman daughter 8 scholar Crich
Elizabeth Coleman daughter 5   Crich
Luke Coleman son 3   Crich
William Coleman son 6 mo   Crich

RG12 piece 2746 folio 90 page 6

1901: Crich

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Aaron Coleman Head 44 Limestone quarryman Crich
Lizzie Coleman wife 42   Crich
Isaac Coleman son 20 Stone mason Crich
Polly Coleman daughter 18 Factoryhand machine minder Crich
William Coleman son 11 School Crich
Bertha Coleman daughter 8   Crich
Tom Coleman son 6 School Crich
Percy Coleman son 4   Crich
Richard Hambleton father in law 78 Parochial relief Crich

RG13 piece 3231 folio 44 page 8

1911: Crich

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
William Coleman Boarder 20 Quarryman limeworks Crich

RG14PN20983 RG78PN1251 RD436 SD4 ED12 SN10

1918 Voters List Crich
William Coleman, Near Cross; absent on military service.

1939 Register: Penrich Road
William Coleman b.11 October 1890; iron foundry labourer
Ethel Coleman b.6 April 1895
Derrick Coleman b. 3 March 1929 school
Brenda M Tinklin (Coleman) b.1 October 1933; school