Thomas Roy Coleman DSO, MC

Rank: 
Major
Unit at enlistment: 
4th Battalion
Force: 
C.E.F.
Volunteered or conscripted: 
Volunteered
Survived the war: 
Yes
Wounded: 
Yes
Awards or decorations: 
Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross, Mentioned in Despatches
Commemorated at: 
Wellington Street Methodist Church
Birth country: 
Canada
Birth county: 
Brant
Birth city: 
Newport, Ontario
Next of kin address: 
Farringdon P.O., Brantford, Ontario
Trade or calling: 
Bank accountant
Religious denominations: 
Methodist
Marital status: 
Single
Age at enlistment: 
24
Gallantry medals: 
Yes

Letters and documents

London Gazette: 29824
Date: November 14, 1916
Honour or Award: Military Cross
Name: Coleman, Thomas Roy (Lieutenant)
Unit: 1st Battalion

Details: For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led and handled his company with great courage and initiative, thereby holding a position which was being heavily attacked. Later, he led his men to their objective.

London Gazette: 30188
Date: July 18, 1917
Honour or Award: Distinguished Service Order
Authority: R.O. 2995. Currie, June 6, 1917
Name: Coleman, Thomas Roy (Lieutenant)
Unit: 1st Battalion

Details: For conspicuous gallantry when commanding a company in an attack. When nearing the final objective a portion of the line was held up by enemy machine-guns, whereupon he pushed forward and bombed the gun emplacement, continuing to clear the enemy trenches until wounded in the arm.

London Gazette: 30448
Date: December 28, 1917
Honour or Award: Mentioned in Despatches
Name: Coleman, Thomas Roy (Lieutenant)
Unit: 1st Battalion

BX November 13, 1916

Military Cross to Captain Thomas Roy Coleman – Won Award for Distinguished Service in Capture of Courcelette

For distinguished services at the Battle of Courcelette Capt. Tom Coleman, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Coleman, Farringdon Hill, has been awarded the Military Cross, according to word received here today. He is with the 1st Battalion at the front, and enlisted from Galt, where he was working in a bank. He has two brothers at the front with the 3rd Divisional Ammunition Column. James Coleman, superintendent at Slingsby’s Mill is a brother of the hero. Lieut. Coleman was recently promoted to his captaincy for gallantry work on the field.

BX July 26, 1917 

Winner of Military Cross, Now Gets Distinguished Service Order – Major Thomas Roy Coleman Distinguished Himself at Vimy Ridge

For bravery at the battle of Vimy Ridge, Major Thomas Roy Coleman of this city has received more honors. The latest word is that Major Coleman has received the Distinguished Service Order. The official reports of the battle in which he won the honour states that his men were nearing the final objective when they were held up by the enemy machine guns. He pushed forward, bombed the gun emplacement and cleared the enemy trenches until he was wounded. Major Coleman recently returned to the front after a two months’ furlough here. He went overseas with the First Contingent and his good work at Courcelette last fall won him the Military Cross. His parents, Mr. and Ms. John Coleman reside at Farrington Hill.

BX September 23, 1915

Bullet Hit Sleeping Bag While Lieutenant Thomas Roy Coleman Slept – Former Accountant of Imperial Bank Here Tells of His Adventures on the Firing Line, Including His Narrow Escape From a Spent German Bullet, Which Hit But Three Inches Away From Him While He Slept

Two interesting letters have been received in the city by Mrs. J.M. Coleman of Farringdon Hill from her son, Lieutenant Thomas Roy Coleman a former accountant in the Imperial Bank, who enlisted at Galt at the outbreak of hostilities. Lieut. Coleman relates his recent experiences in the trenches, including a three inch escape from being hit by a German bullet. In every paragraph there is evidenced the spirit of the true soldier who is resigned to take the worst and the best in the same spirit, uncomplaining. Two brothers, Jack and Frank, are now with the 32nd Battery overseas squad here. The two letters follow:
 
September 15, 1915
 
My Dear Mother,
 
Just a few lines. I am fine and hope you are all well and happy. I have not had word from you for some time, but I guess that is on account of me changing my address.

It is raining slightly this afternoon and we are keeping to our tents. It is very quiet up around the firing line today. The artillery is working a little, as per usual.

When I got up this morning I found a German bullet in my sleeping bag. It came right through the tent. Once I was lucky; it hit about three inches from me. It was just about spent though, so it wouldn’t have done me very much harm. One of our boys was shot through the wrist yesterday by a stray shot.

We are going into the trenches tomorrow night for six days. Did I tell you that I was through some of them?  There has been some hard work done around here alright. There are rows and rows of trenches and great dug-outs in all of them. They are quite comfortable providing Fritz doesn’t throw over a few grenades or bombs.

Our artillery is at it again. They seem to have the drop on the Huns here alright. Does one good to hear our shells go screaming over at them.

I have a birthday this month, haven’t I mother?  Will be 25. About a year ago now I was about to go to Galt. It has been a very short year to me. My new work has been so interesting; I guess that accounts for it. The war will be over in another year’s time easily and everything will be dandy again.

Did I tell you I met young Braund out here?  He came up from Havre with us and has joined the 4th Battalion. He has been sick.

After our turn in the trenches we are going back about seven miles for a six days’ rest. We will be able to have baths there and a general clean-up. Not very much water floating around here. The water we get to wash in is very black.

For breakfast this morning I had bacon and eggs, bread and butter and jam and tea. For lunch I had boiled corn on the cob, bread and butter and jam. Tonight we will probably have a meat of some kind and potatoes and bread and butter and tea. We eat in a little tent about four feet high. There are five of us, quite a happy family.

The bloomin’ Huns put a shell over a few minutes ago, but it didn’t come near us at all. I wish you could see us prick up our ears when we hear a scream coming our way. It would make you laugh.

I never saw such a country as this for wasps. They are here by millions, and the brutes appear to actually love me. I am afraid the love is not mutual.

I was going to send you the bullet that came so close to me, but old soldiers say that it is very lucky to get the first one and keep it, so you will have to wait until I come back.

I have just got word that I am to take a working party up the line tonight. It is raining slightly and it will probably be very dark, but I am ready for it. Duty must be done!
 
Tom
 
September 3, 1915
The Trenches
 
My Darling Mother,
 
Well I am here and things are as good as can be expected. We don’t expect patent leather boots and silk shirts here, and we certainly don’t get them. It has been raining ever since we came in the trenches last night and they are in very bad shape, up to our bootlegs in mud. I am quite comfortable though. I am writing this in my dugout and it is very dry. I have to take a trip through our trenches every hour or so.

There was a terrific fight up on our left here last night. I hear the British took three lines of German trenches. The fire was terrific. The big guns were roaring continuously for an hour. They go Rump, Rump, Rump, Rump, Rump, Rump. Things are very quiet on our front. We are in a fine spot just here. They are at it again up at Ypres – not so very far from us – about 7 miles.

Keep up your hearts of steel, everything is alright. We will be in here for six days and then we go seven miles back for a six day rest.

I haven’t had a wash since yesterday morning and my whiskers are about 3 inches long. Some looking scout this morning. As soon as the weather clears up we will get our water etc., and then a clean-up for me. I was just saying to my captain I wonder what it would feel like to have a nice white collar, silk socks, fancy vest, etc, on. Makes me smile. I was never happier than I am right now. I slept like a log last night and the guns on our left were pounding away.
 
Tom

BX June 17, 1916

Reported Wounded – Lieutenant Thomas Roy Coleman, Who Joined 34th Battalion on Casualty List

News that Lieutenant Thomas R. Coleman, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Coleman, Farrington Hill, had been wounded in action was received in the city this morning. Lieut. Coleman enlisted with the 34th Battalion at Galt, going overseas with the first draft and had been in the trenches nine months. Prior to enlistment he was an accountant in the Imperial Bank at Galt, having gone there from Cobalt. James Coleman, secretary of the Slingsby Company, is a brother.

BX June 21, 1916
 
Where Local Officers Are

Lieutenant Harris L. Walsh, who was recently shot in the right arm, is now in the Royal Free Hospital in London, England, Lieutenant Thomas Roy Coleman is in the hospital at Boulogne, suffering from shot in the head, and Lieutenant John Richard Cornelius is in King’s College Hospital, suffering from concussion.

BX April 14, 1917

First Casualty From Vimy Ridge – Major Thomas Roy Coleman Received a Wound in the Right Forearm

Mrs. John Coleman, Farringdon Hill, has received a cablegram from her son, Major Thomas R. Coleman, that he is in hospital in London, Eng. Wounded in the right forearm. It is thought that he was wounded in the attack on Vimy Ridge.

BX April 17, 1917

More Casualties Now Reported

Privates Roy Wesley Tyrrell and Harold Eastman of Brantford are both reported wounded in today’s casualty list. That Major Thomas Roy Coleman of Farringdon P.O., was slightly wounded is officially reported in today’s list. It is presumed that both the men mentioned are former members of the first Brant County Battalion.. Roy Tyrrell was a telegrapher, single and formerly a resident at 81 Grey Street. He is reported by official cable received by his mother to be in No. 13 General Hospital, Boulogne, with a gunshot wound in the left foot. His brother is in France and his father was Invalided out of the 215th Battalion. Harold Eastman is a married man who formerly resided at 203 Chatham Street.

The wounding of Private Arthur Thomas Menhennet was reported a few days ago in the casualty list. He enlisted in Brantford, but his next of kin lives in England. Before enlisting he worked at the Verity Plow Works and was connected with the Wesley Church Choir.