John Cole - A soldier at the Battle of Waterloo

Memorial Stone Dedication

A poignant dedication ceremony was held on Saturday 17th June 2023.  The short service was performed by 44th East Essex Regiment of Foot, a living history and re-enactment group. They were joined by four members of the 1st Foot Guards (forerunners of the Grenadier Guards), and a member of the 2/95th Rifles.


John Cole Memorial Stone with wreaths

John Cole was a foot soldier in the 2nd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards who lived in the Parish and fought at the Battle of Waterloo in the Napoleonic Wars.

We understand that he is buried at the entrance to the church grounds, though the exact spot is unmarked.  A Memorial to John Cole has been in the grounds of the Church of All Saints for over a century. The original stone was replaced in the 1980s but, sadly, that was was severely damaged by vandals in 2021.

Thanks to the Bowers Gifford & North Benfleet Parish Council a new stone, reworked by M & J Memorials, has now been reinstalled.


The Church before the service, the new stone is by the porch.

Welcome by Parish Council


John Cole order of Service





Reproduced above is the order of service and the Eulogy by Sgt.Mjr. Steven Hars of the 44th East Essex Regiment reads as follows –

John Cole eulogy read by Sgt.Mjr.Steve Hars

‘We are here today to dedicate this new memorial stone to John Cole, a private in the First Foot Guards, later the Grenadier Guards, and a veteran of Waterloo, where he was wounded in action but recovered from his wounds.  Private Cole died in this parish in 1936 aged 51 and on his death bequeathed his Waterloo Medal to the curate of All Saints, whose last act was to erect a memorial to John Cole.  The previous memorial tablet was destroyed by vandals in 2021.  The tablet is believed to be the only ‘memorial’ to a private soldier of Waterloo in the UK.

What is known of Private Cole?

‘He was born in Rochford and his occupation is listed as a labourer.  He enlisted in 1813 aged 29 and was discharged in 1820.  His rank was private and at Waterloo was in the 2nd Battalion, First Foot Guards in Lt-Colonel Barclay’s Company.  He is described as being 5ft 91/2 inches tall with brown hair and hazel eyes with a sallow complexion.  After his discharge he lived in High Road, Pitsea, with his wife, Mary Ann, and two sons, George and James.

We honour a true WATERLOO MAN.

We honour a true WATERLOO MAN.

A wreath is laid

Piped lament

Lady Member

The attending group


44th East Essex Grenadier Guards

The Soldiers Prayer –                                                                                                                                                           A poem that it is considered would have been familiar to John Cole –

‘From all long marches on rainy days,                                                                                                                     And from all stoppages of our pays,                                                                                                                       And the washer woman bill, on the ragged clothes                                                                                       Lord deliver us

‘From the mounting guard when the snow rides deep,                                                                                   And from standing sentry when others sleep,                                                                                                    And from barracks beds where lice and bugs creep                                                                                        Lord deliver us

‘From all Bridewells cages and black holes,                                                                                                         And sergeants with canes, with their halberd poles,                                                                                      And from the nine-tailed cat that opposes our souls                                                                                      Lord deliver us.

‘And all officers who make poor men stand,                                                                                                       Tied up to a halberd, foot, thigh and hand,                                                                                                        And generals with no care for their courageous band                                                                                    Lord deliver us.’

Editors Note:

Since this article was published we have been contacted by Martin Hayhurst. Happily, he managed to photograph the 1980s stone before it was vandalised.  He also sent us this beautiful picture of the church.  Many thanks Martin, this completes our story!

80s Stone – before damage. Photo Martin Hayhurst

The Church of All Saints. Picture Martin Hayhurst


The Map shows the position of the Church in North Benfleet

Comments about this page

Add your own comment

  • Good Morning Serjeant Major Hars,

    Thank you for your comments, which I have added to our site.

    As a former re-enactor myself, (Musketeer, Meldrums,SK), I understand what a vital role our organisations play in the preservation of monuments and battlefields. Thank you for the honour and respect accorded to Private John Cole. The representatives from the Archive who attended, were impressed by the event.

    With Kind Regards,

    Pamela Jeanetta Bird-Gaines (Editor)

    By Pamela Gaines (10/08/2023)
  • It was an honour to organise this memorial on behalf of all Napoleonic Re-enactors worldwide. No doubt the 44th East Essex Regiment
    will return to mark the memorial in future years.
    You can find out more about Napoleonic Re-enactment at:
    Or on Facebook.

    By Serjeant Major Steven Hars (09/08/2023)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.