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MC Pair Reverend Army Chaplain

Military Cross, WW1 Pair, Reverend Hugh Basil Cole, Army Chaplain Department, decorated for bravery and later evacuated from Italy in 1940 under adventurous conditions

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Military Cross, WW1 Pair, Reverend Hugh Basil Cole, Army Chaplain Department.


Military Cross announced in the London Gazette, 26th July 1918, with Citation:


“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during recent operations. He repeatedly exhibited the greatest courage and disregard of danger. His indomitable cheerfulness and unfailing thought for the concern, of others gained him the admiration of all. ranks. He gave his services freely in a variety of capacities.”


With full digital Officer Service File.


His obituary in the West Briton and Cornwall Gazette, 3rd May 1951:



The death has occurred at his home, 12 Ashington Road, Eastbourne, of the Rev Hugh Basil Cole M.C., formerly Domestic Chaplain to the Bishop of Pretoria, South Africa. Born in 1876, Mr Cole was the eldest son of the late Mr John Cole of Treworgan, Mawnam, and his mother was the second daughter of the late Mr John Jope Rogers, Of Penrose, Helston.


Chaplain to the British Colony in Alassio, Italy, from 1936 to 1940, he had to leave hurriedly with his family when the war broke out, and returned to Falmouth, after some hazardous experiences, including a voyage from Marseilles to Gibraltar, when about 1,000 persons were accommodated in 2 small empty colliers.


At Falmouth, he did much voluntary work in various parishes, and he was the first Honorary Secretary of Falmouth Social Service Committee, as well as working for many other good cuauses.


In addition to his widow, he leaves a Brother, Mr Arthur F.A. Cole, a well known London Barrister and a Sister, Miss Catherine W. Cole, of Falmouth. Interment of the ashes take place at Mawnam old churchyard tomorrow afternoon.”


The Reverend Hugh Basil Cole was born in Eton, Buckinghamshire circa 1875.


Son of John Cole.


He received a top education, being admitted into King’s College, University of Cambridge on 8th October 1894.


His father had of course graduated from there himself in 1863, and his brother would in 1901.


He was firstly educated at Eton, Oppidan.


Admitted into Cambridge on 4th October 1894, 2nd Class Classical Tripos, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1897 and Master of Arts in 1901.


He learned his craft at the Wells Theological College 1898, being ordained as Deacon 1898, Priest of Oxford in 1899.

Curate of Abingdon 1898 – 1904, Licensed Preacher to the Diocese of Oxford from 1904-7, Assistant Priest at Cape Town South Africa Native Mission 1907-08, becoming Domestic Chaplain to the Archbishop of Capetown 1906-1916. From 1916 madde Commissary to the Archbishop of Capetown.


From 1916-1919 he served with the Army Chaplain’s Department on attachment serving in the trenches.


He would earn his Military Cross during 1918.


After the war, he became Rector of St Clement’s Hastings, from 1920.


In 1911 he had married Gertrude Mary, the Daughter of Edward Turner, a King’s Council Barrister, of Salisbury, Rhodesia.


The Reverend was charitable and honest to a fault, so generous in fact that when a troubled young man came to him in need of money, he did not hesitate to help him out, and offer him jobs around the church, sadly the youth took advantage of him and would loan him a significant sum of money, the young man had even been trialled for manslaughter in a car accident, yet Reverend Cole still did not hesistate to give him £20 towards his legal expenses.


He admitted upon resigning from Hastings, that he was no business man, and hopefully his succesor would be more savvy with money, but he had a kind heart, simply asking that the people of Hastings keep him in their prayers for his next adventure.


In 1936, he left Hastings, He took up the role as the appointed Chaplain at Alassio, in the British Colony in North Italy, until 1940 when World War 2 had begun and he had to hastily leave Alassio behind in a treacherous voyage home.


They shipped him back to Falmouth, and he was happy to help the locals upon his arrival and quickly got himself a posting there as a Reverend.


“The Bishop of Truro had placed Reverend H.B. Cole, of Falmouth, in Charge of the Parish of Lanner until a new Vicar is appointed. Reverend Cole is a Newphe of the late Canon Rogers, one time Vicar of Gwennap.”

  • Cornish Post 24th August 1940 recalls.