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Remembering World War II
Name: Gordon William Coe Rank: Able Seaman (DEMS Gunner) Service Number: C/JX 336400 Service: Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship, HMS President III, British Royal Navy Date of Birth: August 16, 1922 Place of Birth: West Acre, Norfolk, England Date of Death: March 5, 1943 Age. 21 Cemetery: Camp Hill Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia Grave: Section K, Lot 7 East, Division 2 Inscription: Sweet Is His Memory, Dear Is His Name Close To Our Hearts, He Will Ever Remain Gordon William Coe was the son of Edgar Howard Coe (1888-1969) and May (Couzens) Coe (1887-1961), of West Acre, Norfolk, England. His father was born in Castle Acre, Norfolk, England, and his mother was born in Sporle in Norfolk. Gordon had two brothers – Bernard Edgar Coe and Alfred Maurice Coe. He died of illness (post diptheriatic paralysis of respiratory system) at the Camp Hill Hospital in Halifax on March 5, 1943, and was interred at the Camp Hill Cemetery on March 6, 1943. A little known or reported upon branch of the Royal Navy known as DEMS Gunners. (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship Gunners). This branch of the Royal Navy was developed out of necessity in assisting in the protection of merchant ships at sea during WWII. Each merchant ship had a contingent of these men on board to man the military weapons and equipment: depth charges, 4” deck Gun and AA batteries including the Oerliken and Bofors Anti-Aircraft armaments. DEMS basic training was normally done at HMS Glendower (training base) and HMS Wellesley (DEMS gunnery training base) and HMS President III was the Royal Navy base that handled the seaman’s accounts and training. Unfortunately, records do not list the actual Merchant Navy ships on which the sailor served; they will simply reference that the mariner was assigned to HMS President III. Gordon William Coe is also remembered on a cenotaph at the All Saints Churchyard in West Acre, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough, in Norfolk, England.
Gordon William Coe
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Royal Navy Oerlikon gunner at the gun mount in 1942