- 1st Battalion
- 2nd Battalion
- 3rd (Reserve) Battalion
- 1/4th Battalion
- 2/4th Battalion
- 3/4th and 3/5th Battalions
- 1/5th Battalion
- 2/5th Battalion
- 4/5th Battalion
- 5th Battalion
- 6th (Service) Battalion
- 7th (Service) Battalion
- 8th (Service) Battalion
- 9th (Service) Battalion
- 10th (Service) Battalion
- 11th (Reserve) Battalion
- 1/12th Battalion (Pioneers)
- 2/12th Battalion
- 13th (Home) Battalion
- 14th Battalion
- 15th (Service) Battalion
- Home Service Only
- Battalion not known
Desmond Coke, as he was known, was born in London on 5th July 1879. He was the youngest son of Major-General John Talbot Coke and Charlotte Fitzgerald.
The family is included in the ‘The Plantagenet Roll of Blood Royal of Britain’.
A sister, Charlotte Geraldine Coke, later married Lieutenant general Thomas D’Oyly Snow KCB, KCMG. Lt-Gen Snow was in command VII Corps when Desmond arrived in France.
Desmond studied at Oxford, and whilst there was active in the Oxford University Volunteer Battalion (3rd Oxfordshire) between 1899 and 1902. He reached the rank of Lance Corporal.
Prior to, and post war Desmond was a notable novelist and writer of stories for boys. He wrote under his own name and the pseudonym Belinda Blinders. His mother Charlotte was a journalist for women’s magazines. She also published a number of advice books.
On the night of the 1911 Census, Desmond was staying with the Liverpool-born dramatist, Arthur Eckersley in Bournemouth.
In 1913 he wrote “The Art of Silhouette”. Coke is described in silhouette collecting circles as being one of fore-founders of the hobby which really took off in the 1920s and is still popular today.
There was little doubt that Desmond would have been granted his commission when War broke out. Aside from who his father was, Desmond was provided character references by his past schoolmasters and a former Under Secretary of State for the War Office.
Desmond Coke was appointed to a temporary commission as a Lieutenant into the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 25th October 1914. At the time of his commission he was residing at 16 Dryden Chambers, Oxford Street, London. His permanent address was given as that of his family home at Trusley Manor in Derbyshire.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 13 FEBRUARY, 1915.
The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.
Temporary Lieutenant and Adjutant F. D. T. Coke, to be temporary Captain dated 23rd January 1915.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 17 MARCH, 1915.
The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.
The promotion to the rank of temporary Captain of temporary Lieutenant and Adjutant Francis D. T. Coke, which appeared in
the Gazette of 13th February, 1915, is antedated to the 27th November, 1914.
He sailed to Boulogne with the Battalion on 31st July 1915. One his jobs whilst in France was to complete the Battalion War Diary.
On 1st May 1916 Desmond contracted trench fever. Two days later he received orders to return to England for instruction in Staff Officer duties. Whilst enroute between Boulogne and Folkestone he writes that he “became ill.. so took a cabin”. When he arrived back home he was admitted to 3rd London General Hospital where he remained for the rest of that month. He was discharged to the Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth, being ordered to ‘report when fit to the War Office’.
On 30th June 1916 a medical officer at Bournemouth wrote that Captain Coke needed “absolute rest for at least a(nother) month”. He added that he had “a loud systolic murmur.. his tongue is very furred, and he is in a highly nervous condition”.
On 11th August 1916, Desmond had his eyes examined at Boscome, the report concluded;
“he is suffering from eye strain the result of uncorrected astigmatism and of his general condition is at present unfit for duty. I should advise his having another three or four weeks before using his eyes much. Apart from the astigmatism and a certain amount of short sight his eyes are sound”.
On 14th August 1916 the following memorandum was received by the War Office from a doctor in Bournemouth;
“I hereby certify that Captain Desmond Coke’s systolic heart murmur reported six weeks ago has disappeared, and that his general health is better, but he is still suffering from loss of memory, and giddiness, and nervous debility, and is in my opinion it is desirable that he should have an extension of leave for one month”.
Desmond followed this his own letter four days later;
“.. I did not know the seemingly slight trench fever could leave such big after effects – but I am now assured that my heart is normal again and that this further month will complete my convalescence. I therefore beg to express the hope that my orders to report to the War Office when fit may be allowed to stand.
With reference to my suitability for training and employment as a staff officer, I hope that I am breaking no regualtions or convertions by attaching a letter recently received from Col. W. Dennys, my Commanding Officer, 1914-15”.
Unfortunately his fever was persistent. Each time further medical boards were held throughout the latter months of 1916, the examining officers would conclude that Desmond was still unfit for duty.
Desmond wrote again to the War Office on 5th January 1917 with some suggestions as to his further employment;
“.. I am advised by my doctor that work early in the day and duty in hot rooms would be two of the worst things for my heart trouble and would soon end in ‘a certain breakdown’, and as I am not anxious for reemployment, I beg most respectfully to offer the following suggestions;
In view of the fact that for 11 years prior to the war I made my living as a journalist and author, might I perhaps be usefully employed in propaganda work, or some light duty in a minor branch of the intelligence department, not demanding attendance early at an office?
As my two most successful novels concerned life at a public school, and as I have also written four school stories especially for boys and was constantly called in by the ‘Daily Mail’ to write an article on any public school topic of the moment, is there any variety of propaganda work along these narrower lines on which I could be usefully employed? (e.g. a tour of lectures to the leading schools; a series of articles on the school OTC etc?)”.
On 28th March 1917 Captain Coke wrote, from his residence at “Craven Lodge, Horsham, Sussex, to the War Office stating that;
…. this morning (I) reported at the Depot, Royal Sussex Regiment in Chichester.. since the last medical board found me (on Jan, 6. 1917) fit for light duty in an office, at my own request, the recurrent fever has unfortunately been back in a more violent form (mid-February) and has made my valvular (sic) trouble of the heart more troublesome, as well as causing me acute insomnia. Having, in accordance with orders from the OC Depot, reported to the MO i/c Depot, he listened to my heart and expressed the opinion, held by my civil doctor, that I was not at present fit for any military duty. I have therefore returned to my home address as above, and await further instruction. I respectfully suggest that as the ‘light duty in an office’ (which I was in any case unable to attain) expires in April another medical board should be allowed to investigate my state of health”.
A medical board was held at Brighton on 16th April 1917, and regretfully concluded that;
“there is no alternative that he should relinquish his commission on the grounds of ill-health contracted on Active Service… he will be granted the honorary rank of Captain, which does not however confer the right to wear uniform unless employed on military duty”.
For his service in the Great War, Captain Desmond Francis Talbot Coke was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal (with the mentioned in despatches oakleaf).
Having been invalided out of the Army he was invited to become school master of Clayesmore School. Here he tutored future well-known book illustrator Edward Ardizzone, who sought approval of his work from his esteemed teacher.
Throughout his life he was a great collector of books, antiques and paintings. He wrote about his collecting in 1927 in his book ‘Confessions of an Incurable Collector’.
Desmond Coke passed away on 27th April 1931. His probate was handled by the publisher Ralph Sidney Albert Straus and Edward Howell a retired Major. His effects amounted to £87952 8s 10d. Through his last Will and Testament he donated numerous items to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The bending of a twig (1906)
The call (1907)
The comedy of age (1906)
The cure (1912)
Helena Brett’s career (1913)
The pedestal (1908)
Beauty for ashes (1910)
The chaps of Harton (1913)
The golden key (1909)
The house prefect (1907)
The monkey tree (1929)
The nouveau poor (1921)
Pamela herself (1922)
The school across the road (1909)
Sandford of Merton (1903)
The worm (1927)
The worst house at Sherborough (1913)
Youth, youth . . . ! (1919)
One hour of life (1918)
The art of silhouette (1913)
Confessions of an incurable collector (1928)
Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
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- 12153 PTE. H. DAGGER. L.N.LAN.R 3 Comments
- 12638 PTE. W. HANLON. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 12641 PTE. R. STOPFORTH. L.N.LAN.R 1 Comment
- 12703 LCPL. W. H. SMITH. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 12739 PTE. J. HACKING. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 12741 PTE. E. MCPARTLIN. L.N.LAN.R. 1 Comment
- 12746 CPL. T. DOWNS. L.N.LAN.R. 1 Comment
- 12774 SJT. T. CROSS. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 12784 LSJT. A. DANSON. L.N.LAN.R 1 Comment
- 12874 PTE. R. WALSH. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 12883 PTE. T. H. BAINES. L.N.LAN.R 2 Comments
- 12944 PTE. W. MOSS. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 12949 PTE. H. LEAVER. L.N.LAN.R 2 Comments
- 12976 SJT. H. P. MAKIN. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 13115 PTE. C. J. STEWART. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 13229 PTE. G. HESKETH. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 13245 PTE. T. WHALLEY. L.N.LAN.R. 1 Comment
- 13284 PTE. H. NIGHTINGALE. L.N.LAN.R 3 Comments
- 13394. SGT. W. HOLME. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 13395 PTE. A. GRAY. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 13421. PTE. W. MEE. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 13426 LCPL. J. PEAK. L.N.LAN.R 7 Comments
- 13458 CPL. F. SWALES. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 13460 CPL. W. HALLIWELL. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 13470 SJT. W. E. BUTLER. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 13530 LCPL. J. H. ADAMS. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 13588 SGT. J. ROTHERHAM. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 13693 PTE. W. LORD. L.N.LAN.R 2 Comments
- 13814 PTE. J. BILLINGTON. L.N.LAN.R 1 Comment
- 13831 PTE. A. HANRAHAN. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 13881 PTE. A. E. FISHER. L.N.LAN.R 1 Comment
- 13896 PTE. G. WOODCOCK. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 13911 PTE. T. H. TAYLOR. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 13985 PTE. R. SEYMOUR L. N. LAN. R. 0 Comments
- 13994 PTE. S. BRIGGS. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 14000 PTE. T. ATKINSON. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 14017 PTE. J. BOTTOMLEY. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 14173 PTE. T. NELSON. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 14179 PTE. J. SWARBRICK. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 14193 PTE. T. HATCH. L.N.LAN.R 2 Comments
- 14238 PTE. J. WILLIAMS. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 15111 PTE. A. FERGUSON. L.N.LAN:R 0 Comments
- 15490 PTE. L. BIRD. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 15628 PTE. A. WISEMAN. L.N.LAN.R 2 Comments
- 15709. PTE. T. POWER. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 15750 PTE. W. BAILEY. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 15793 CPL. T. A. HOGARTH. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 15821 WOII. E. O'HARA. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 16346 SJT. J. NUTTALL. L.N.LAN 1 Comment
- 16419 LCPL. G. ELLISON. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 16637 SJT. F. TAYLOR. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 16739 PTE. R. PENDLEBURY. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 16757 PTE. W. BILSBOROUGH. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 16762 PTE. R. CLEGG. L.N.LAN.R 2 Comments
- 16780 PTE. A. RABY. L.N.LAN.R 2 Comments
- 16915 PTE. J. R. HAYES. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 17462 PTE. J. CLARKE. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 17534 PTE. R. HALSHAW. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 17615 PTE. J. LOWE. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 18116 CPL. T. H. HOOPER. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 18995 CPL. J. WALTON. L.N.LAN.R 4 Comments
- 19574 PTE. R. DERBYSHIRE. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 19736 PTE. J. J. BARNES. L.N.LAN.R 1 Comment
- 19781 PTE. A. RIGBY. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 19812 PTE. R. GILLETT. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 200402 PTE. T. MCCUE. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 201732 PTE. H. WILSON. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 20202 PTE. C. PICKLES. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 203470 PTE. E. DALEY. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 203522 PTE. J. GREGSON. L.N.LAN.R. 2 Comments
- 203593 PTE. A. BRIERLEY. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 2037 PTE. R. SUTTON. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 21607 CPL. C. DUNN. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 22357 PTE. J. BRETLAND. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 22405 PTE. W. MILLER. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 22501 PTE. T. JACKSON. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 22615 PTE. L. CARDWELL. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 22715 PTE. J. ROBINSON. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 22797 PTE. W. JACKSON. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 23579 PTE. W. HELMN. L.N.LAN.R 1 Comment
- 24615 PTE. A. J. MOSS. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 24648 PTE. J. DOOLAN. L.N.LAN.R. 1 Comment
- 24683 LCPL. R. BLEASE. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 25307 PTE. T. BARNES. L.N.LAN.R 2 Comments
- 25413 PTE. E. A. BARKER. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 25724 PTE. F. KEEN. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 25748 PTE. H. HALL. L.N.LAN.R 2 Comments
- 25858 PTE. J. DUNN. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 27588 PTE. R. PHILLIPSON. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 27612 PTE. A. J. DAMSELL. L.N.LAN.R 1 Comment
- 27639 PTE. R. BANKS. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
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- 33813 PTE. F. J. BARKER. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 33859 CPL. T. H. MAXFIELD. L.N.LAN.R 2 Comments
- 33921 LCPL. A. W. BULL. L.N.LAN.R. 0 Comments
- 34090 PTE N. S. TOWNSLEY. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
- 36921 PTE. G. PEMBERTON. L.N.LAN.R 0 Comments
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- 36771 PTE. H. GIBSON. L.N.LAN.R.
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Every man will have in his possession a mask, or a pad soaked with special solution, which can be obtained in the trenches.
Prior to the attack on Rue-du-Bois, 5th May 1915
(1st Battalion War Diary)
- Every man will have in his possession a mask, or a pad soaked with special solution, which can be obtained in the trenches. Prior to the attack on Rue-du-Bois, 5th May 1915
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