Edward Colle

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Edward Colle was one of the first officers ever to command a tank in battle, at Flers-Courcelette on the Somme in September 1916.

    Colle came from Cardiff. After attending Penarth County School, he worked for the shipping firm of Lysberg Limited in Cardiff Docks. In August 1914, aged 21, he enlisted in the 1/1st Glamorgan Yeomanry, joining its machine gun section and becoming Sergeant Major. In April 1916 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Heavy Section of the Machine Gun Corps to help pioneer tanks.

    On 15 September 1916, as part of the British assault on the German’s third line of defences, 36 tanks went into action for the first time. Colle was in No.4 Section of D Company. He and another officer, Lieutenant Walter Stones, were to support the 50th Division in its attack on the German switch line between Martinpuich and High Wood. Colle commanded tank D25, Stones D24.

    Moving up from Bazentin-le-Petit cemetery, the two tanks crossed the British front line at 06.03, 17 minutes before Zero Hour. When the artillery bombardment lifted and the infantry advanced, Colle and Stones were in position on the German front line. They gave close support to the assault and shortly after 07.00 followed it forward. D24 was disabled by shellfire. But Colle in D25 pushed on, skirting Martinpuich at 08.00 where he put three German guns out of action. Having helped the infantry reach the German third line of defences and with his steering gear damaged, Colle took his tank back to Bazentin-le-Petit as ordered. For his skill and gallantry he received the Military Cross.

    Colle was wounded later in September. When he recovered, he was sent to the Ministry of Shipping. After the war he became a Chartered Shipbroker and served again in the Royal Tank Regiment during the Second World War.

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