Edward B. Cole

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Edward Ball Cole
Cole EdwardB 1stLt USMC portrait.jpg
Edward B. Cole
Nickname(s) "Ned"
Born (1879-09-23)September 23, 1879
Boston, Massachusetts
Died June 18, 1918(1918-06-18) (aged 38)
Field hospital, France
Buried Aisne-Marne Cemetery, Belleau, France
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Rank Major
Commands held 6th Machine Gun Battalion, 4th Brigade of Marines

World War I

Awards Navy Cross
Distinguished Service Cross
Légion d'honneur
Croix de Guerre
Relations Brother — U.S. Army BGen Charles H. Cole

Edward Ball Cole (September 23, 1879 - June 18, 1918) was an officer in the United States Marine Corps during World War I. He was a leading expert on machine guns; he was killed in action during the Battle of Belleau Wood.


Cole was born in on September 23, 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1902, where he was a member of the Owl Club.[1][2]

Cole was one of the United States' leading experts on machine guns and had published several articles and a book on the subject — Field Book for Machine Gunners (1917).[3] He received a direct commission in the Marine Corps in World War I.

Cole received the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism during the Battle of Belleau Wood in which he was mortally wounded on June 10, 1918. On that day, while he was leading an attack on enemy machine guns a German hand grenade wounded him in the foot. When a second grenade landed in front of him, he grabbed it to throw it back and protect his men — it exploded in his hand.[4] He crawled back to his men under rifle fire. He died from his wounds on June 18, 1918, in a field hospital near Coulommiers, France, with his brother, U.S. Army Brigadier General Charles H. Cole at his side.[4] He is buried in the Aisne-Marne Cemetery, Belleau, France.

His decorations included the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross; as well as the French Légion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre.


For his actions on June 10, 1918 during the Battle of Belleau Wood, Cole received both the Navy Cross and the Army Distinguished Service Cross.

Cole's Navy Cross citation reads:

In the Bois de Belleau, France, on June 10, 1918, his unusual heroism in leading his company under heavy fire enabled it to fight with exceptional effectiveness. He personally worked fearlessly until he was mortally wounded.

His Distinguished Service Cross citation reads:

In the Bois de Belleau, on June 10th 1918, displayed extraordinary heroism in organizing positions, rallying his men and disposing of his guns, continuing to expose himself fearlessly until he fell. He suffered the loss of his right hand and received wounds in upper arm and both thighs.”


The destroyer USS Cole (DD-155) was named for him. (The guided missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG-67) was named for a different Cole: Darrell S. Cole.)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Malcolm, The Hingham Journal, 2001.
  2. ^ Howe, Mark Anthony De Wolfe (1922). Memoirs of the Harvard Dead in the War Against Germany, Vol 3. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 
  3. ^ Cole, Captain Edward B., USMC (1917). Field Book for Machine Gunners. Kansas City: Hudson. 
  4. ^ a b Nilo, James R. (July 1993). "World War I 75 Years Ago: Attack on Soissons" (reprinted by Leatherneck as "Today In USMC History: July 18, 1918"). Leatherneck Magazine. Retrieved 2008-10-26. Marine Major Edward B. Cole, commanding the 6th Machine Gun Bn, while leading an attack on some enemy machine guns on June 10 in those woods, was severely wounded. A German grenade wounded him in the foot, and a second one landed in front of him. While trying to throw it back, it exploded and riddled him with shrapnel. Gen Cole was at his bedside when he died on June 18. 


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.