Monday, April 1, 2013

W.F. Cooke's Canadian 1914 Contract Colt 1911

I posted this pistol on and received the following information:

"That would be Lieutenant William Forrest Cooke, born Aug 26, 1882 in Hull Quebec. He attested as an Other Ranks solder and was assigned service number 102524, but was discharged almost right away to receive a commission. When he declared (attested) as a Lieutenant on Aug 21, 1915 in the 67th Battalion he was the president of Northern Lumber & Mercantile Co. Ltd. in Prince George B.C. He had previously served as a corporal in the Boer War. During the war he received field promotions to Captain (Oct 23, 1916) and Major (May 12, 1917). He transferred to the 54th Battn for a short time in May 1917, and then transferred to the CFC (167th Battn). He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel Jan 11, 1919, before demobilization. He was awarded the DSO Jan 1, 1918 (London Gazette 30563, dated Mar 8, 1918, pg. 2973), and was twice Mentioned in Despatches in 1917. He appears to have suffered two wounds at different times, but I don't have the details."

Shortly after I was able to do some more serious research using the Archives Canada site and managed to get a copy of Cooke's personal file.

The pistol was purchased from the B.C. near where Cooke would have resided after the war, however I found it interesting to learn he was born very near Ottawa, across the river in Hull, Quebec.

This was my first Canadian 1914 Contract Colt 1911.  I have since picked up some mint examples, but this one has definitely seen action.   This pistol now resides in a friends collection.




For those who are not familiar with Canada's purchase of 5000 1911's in 1914 I would suggest tracking down a copy of Clive Law's book Canadian Military Handguns


  1. I had a Colt 1911 handed down to me several years ago and just recently noticed engraving on the top of the slide "G L Greenlay" followed by "Canadian Light Horse". I believe this was on of the Canadian contract Colts. The serial number is C42XX and if I understand correctly it was shipped to Canada in Sept 1914. Similar to the history of your gun I believe the one I have was owned by Gardner Lansonby Greeenlay. There is an article on line about him in the Shaunavon Standard paper in 2012. He was born in 1881 and served for three years in the Boer conflict. He returned to Canada and jooined the NWMP in 1901 and in 1914 joined the 14th Light Horse. He ended the war as a Lt Colonel and later became the Chief of Police in a small town in Saskatchewan. He was awarded the Military Cross by King George V at Buckinham Palace in 1916 for conspicuous gallantry. Quite a history! The Colt has been used over the years but is in good shape. I had it at the range last summer and it performed well. How would I go about finding out more details about Greenlay?

  2. Hello all. Not sure if this site is live as I have not received any feedback on the above posting. As it turns out I was going through some old boxes several weeks ago and discovered the Mills 1914 web belt, holster, mag pouch and matching lanyard for the colt 1911 issued to Greenlay. The rig is in good shape and is marked with the Canadian arrow symbol. I believe these belts and holsters were purchased by the Canadian government at the same time they made the contract with colt for the 1911 pistols. I am still interested in any information or how to obtain information on Gardner Greenlay. Is anyone out there? :)