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Owen Cole

Gravesite of Gunner Owen Cole (20778), Waikumete Cemetery. Image kindly provided by Hugh Grenfell (April 2016). © Auckland Museum CC BY.

Gravesite of Gunner Owen Cole (20778), Waikumete Cemetery. Image kindly provided by Hugh Grenfell (A …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Owen AWMM
  • Surname
    Cole AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    WWII 20778 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    WW2 Unknown AWMM 17 Bright Street, Eden Terrace, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    WW2 Mr G.H.L. Cole (father) 17 Bright Street, Eden Terrace, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Unknown AWMM Single AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Service number
    WWII 20778 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
    WW2 Unknown AWMM Storeman/Civilian AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment

Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
    • WW2
      Crete, Greece AWMM
      1 June 1941 AWMM
      Details of capture unknown AWMM
    • WW2 POW - Crete POW Deaths (R25405152)
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    • Killed or died while a Prisoner of War, Cause of Death AWMM
      Died while Prisoner of War AWMM
    • 9 April 1941 AWMMOther, WWII AWMM
      Shot after escaping from P.O.W. camp. AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Owen Cole was the son of George Henry Leonard and Elizabeth Jane Cole, of Auckland City, New Zealand.

    The youngest of seven children, Owen Cole grew up in Eden Terrace. He was considered quiet and reserved, partly because he was born with a cleft palate and did not always speak clearly.

    Owen Cole was killed by the German Troops on his third breakout from a prison camp on the Greek Island of Crete. According to family members, the German army had told Gunner Cole that if he tried to escape again they would shoot him. In September 1941, Pte Cole, Pte Blank (23 Bn) and four other soldiers after escaping from POW Camp were surrounded by German troops. They surrendered, but were lined up and two were killed; one of whom was Cole, the other is unknown.

    His diary was found in the 1990s? among thousands of wartime documents unearthed in a Moscow vault. The documents were apparently seized by Josef Stalin's Red Army when it invaded Nazi Germany. The diary ends two weeks after Gunner Cole and a friend first escaped from the Crete Prison.

    His five war medals were given to Owen's oldest sister, Myrtle. AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    4 September 1941 AWMM
    Age 23 AWMM
    CreteGreece AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Suda Bay War Cemetery, Crete, Greece AWMM 13. B. 19. AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name
    • Auckland Domain, an Olive Tree (Olea europaea) planted close to the Auckland War Memorial Museum in the grounds of the Auckland Domain commemorates those who fought on Crete in 1941. AWMM
    • Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 2 Hall of Memories AWMM

Roll of Honour

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Leave a note

Leave a tribute or memory of Owen Cole

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  • External links
  • References
    • The New Zealand Herald AWMM
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1941). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 2 (Embarkations to 30th June, 1940). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      WW2 2: WW2 39 AWMM
    • The New Zealand Herald AWMM
      New Zealand Herald 4.10.97, s1,p1; 6.10.97, s1, p1 AWMM
    • Deaths While Prisoner of War - Navy, Army, Air Force and Civilians [WW2 NZ POW Deaths], Archives New Zealand, Wellington, AAAA 7393 Box 1 (R25405152). AWMM
      Davin, D. (1953). p. 516 AWMM


Command item
Command item
Add new record Refresh
DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
16 April 2022Ian BanksTaumarunui New ZealandResearcher
17 April 2018KevinAustraliaOther

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