COOKE E.E.J.

EDGAR EDWARD JULIAN COOKE 1885 – 1917

202043 Private Edgar Edward Julian Cooke, 1st Battalion, the Border Regiment was killed in action 13 August 1917 and is buried at Artillery Wood Cemetery, Boezinge, Belgium.[1]  He is commemorated on the War Memorial at Pickering, North Yorkshire where he had lived during his youth.

His brother, Cecil Frederick (1891-1918) is also commemorated on the Pickering War Memorial and he is recorded as serving in the United States Army.  He died 8 October 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. [2]

Family Details

Edgar Edward Julian’s [seems to be known as Edward] father was Arthur Robert Cooke (1863-1922) who was born at Wykeham in Yorkshire and his mother Mary (1856-1931) came from Brompton, Yorkshire.  In 1901, the family lived at Rock Cottage, Pickering, North Yorkshire.  There were 6 children:[3]

  • Edgar Edward Julian bc.1885 at Norton [seems to be known as Edward]
  • Emily M. bc.1887 at Croft, North Yorkshire
  • Alfred J. bc. 1891 at Croft
  • Cecil bc.1892 at Croft
  • Lucy bc. 1894 at Ullerskelf, Yorkshire
  • Reginald bc.1899 at Pickering, North Yorkshire

Arthur Cooke was a railway signalman and moved homes as was required by his employment.  The 1901 census details provide clear evidence of this – Edgar was born at Norton in North Yorkshire, Emily, Alfred and Cecil were born at Croft, near Darlington, Lucy was born at Ulleskelf, near Tadcaster, Yorkshire and Reginald at Pickering, North Yorkshire.  At this time, Edgar worked as a clerk at the Engine Works, presumably at Pickering.

In 1911, Edward aged 26 was married to Lily (aged 25, born West Stanley, Co. Durham) and they had 1 child, Doris aged 9 months born at Annfield Plain.  He worked as a grocer and they lived at Annfield Plain.[4]  It is understood that Edgar was employed by Walter Willson, a North East based chain of General Dealers.  The firm had a shop in Evenwood at Shirley Terrace and it is presumed that this employment brought him and his family to Evenwood.  It is indicated that Edward lived at Evenwood and enlisted at Bishop Auckland [5] but he is not included in the Roll of Honour provided by the Church Magazine and there is no mention of him in this source of information.  Family records confirm that Edward and Lucy had 3 children:

  • Doris,
  • Marion
  • Julian who he never saw.

Lucy was pregnant with their 3rd child when he died.[6]

 Military Details

It seems likely that Edward Cooke enlisted into the 4th (Territorial) Battalion possibly in mid-1915 and was later posted to the 1st Battalion in France.  The 4th Battalion did not move out of England.  [7]

The 1st Battalion was a regular battalion stationed in Burma at the commencement of the war and in January 1915 returned to England.  It was attached to the 87th Brigade, 29th Division.  Other units in the 87th Brigade were:

  • 2nd Bn., the South Wales Borderers
  • 1st Bn., the King’s Own Scottish Borderers
  • 1st Bn., the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
  • 87th Brigade Machine Gun Company
  • 87th Trench Mortar Battery

25 April 1915 to 2 January 1916: The Division saw action in Gallipoli.

29 March 1916:  The Division landed at Marseilles and proceeded to the Western Front and took part in the Battle of the Somme.  Since Private Cooke was not awarded the 1914-15 Star, he did not serve overseas prior to 1 January 1916.  It is possible that he saw action on the Somme at the Battle of Albert then at Arras in 1917 before moving north into Flanders and the Third Battle of Ypres, the second phase, the Battle of Langemarck.

 The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

31 July – 10 November 1917:  an overview

The offensive had 8 distinctive phases:

  • Battle of Pilckem, 31st July to 2nd August
  • Battle of Langemarck, 16th to 18th August
  • Battle of the Menin Road, 20th to 25th September
  • Battle of Polygon Wood, 26th September to 3rd October
  • Battle of Broodseinde, 4th October
  • Battle of Poelcapelle, 9th October
  • First Battle of Passchendaele, 12th October
  • Second Battle of Passchendaele, 26th October to 10th November

Many Divisions visited the Ypres Salient during the 3rd Ypres and on more than one occasion.  A total of 54 Divisions were thrown into battle.  For example, the 11th saw action at Langemarck, Polygon Wood, Broodseinds and Poelcapelle. The offensive cost the British nearly 310,000 casualties, the Germans slightly less and it consumed all of the available reserves.  On the 6th November, the village of Passchendaele was entered and the whole campaign ended a few days later when more of the ridge was taken.  It achieved none of its objectives although the Germans could no longer look down on the Ypres Salient which had been deepened by about 5 miles and they had been prevented from attacking the French when its army was in disarray following the failure of the Nivelle Offensive.

From the outset, it was obvious to the German Fourth Army that a new attack was being prepared and the previous year they had begun to strengthen their defences.  The British did not force home their initial advantage and it was not until the 11th July that an air offensive began.  On the 18th, a massive artillery bombardment commenced.  The attack itself began on the 31st July when the British Fifth Army attacked north-east from the Ypres salient.  Initially, good progress was made but a strong counter-attack resulted in only a 2 mile advance.  Heavy rain fell on the first night flooding the swampy ground whose drainage system had been totally destroyed by the 10 day bombardment.  As a result the whole operation was held up but offensive actions still took place.

In early August 1917, the Battalion was posted at De Wippe Cabaret near Elverdinghe in Belgium.  The weather was wet and preparations were being made for offensive action.  Training took place at Penton Camp near Proven.  Casualties for the week ending 3 August 1917 were 9 Other Ranks (OR) killed, 13 OR wounded and 3 OR missing.

11 August:  the battalion moved to the Steenbeek Sector and into trenches at Fouches Farm.  There were a few casualties.

The War Diary contains the following entries:

“TRENCHES

12th  

Fairly quiet time for all Coys except A. who had a few casualties from fairly lively shelling round the green line. Battn. moved up to  front line. 3 Coys A Coy. remained in Green line.

Bn. H.Q. at FOURCHES FM the battalion struck the enemy barrage round FOURCHES FM & all told the battalion had about 40 casualties.

FRONT LINE TRENCHES.

13th   

More shelling at stand to this morning. 2 LT. G.F. HAMLETT killed & a/CAPT. A FULTON (just promoted that day) wounded and about ten casualties to other ranks. Again heavy shelling, principally in the early morning between 2.30 and 3.30 a.m. an absolute barrage was put down on the line.

FOURCHES FARM. CAPTAINS FARM getting 3 or 4 direct hits on FOUCHES FM. – Bn H.Q. causing about 5 casualties in the Green line & around.

14th  

Another lively day at FOURCHES FARM from shell fire. The Company Commander of the French Company on our left paid us a visit & also the machine gun officer & a considerable entente resulted. Another barrage was put down by the BOCHE tonight about dusk.

15th   

Relieved early this morning & moved down to bivouacs at BLEVET FARM & slept till noon. Then cleaned up, issued battle stores & issued final orders for the battle.”

The “final orders for battle” were indeed the instructions for the second phase of the 3rd Battle of Ypres, now commonly known as Passchendaelle.  A detailed account is provided for the attack 16 August.

13 August 1917:  Private EEJ Cooke was killed in action after the Battle of Pilkem and before the Battle of Langemarck.  The War Diary entry clearly indicates that casualties were suffered by the Battalion on this day.  It is reasonable to assume that Private Cooke was a victim of German shelling either in the front line trenches or at the battalion H.Q. at Fourches Farm.

Casualties for the week ending 17 August 1917 were:

Killed:

Officers 1:   2LT. G.F. HAMLETT 13/8/17.

Other ranks 24

Wounded:

Officers 3

a/CAPT. A. FULTON 13/8/17

2LT. J.B. TROTTER 13/8/17

2 LT. M.C. NICHOLSON 16/8/17

Other ranks 105

Missing:

Officers 1 – 2LT. H.T. THOMPSON 13/8/17

Other ranks 22

Died of Wounds:

Officers –

Other ranks 1

Total:

5 Officers

152 Other ranks.

Private E. E. J. Cooke was killed in action 13 August 1917.  Later research records that 16 Other Ranks serving with the battalion were killed in action on this day. [8] Private E.E.J. Cooke was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[9]

Edward Cooke was 33 years old, left a wife Lily who was pregnant with their 3rd child to be named Julian and 2 daughters Doris and Marion.

Burial

Artillery Wood Cemetery: The cemetery is located in the village Boezinge, to the north of Ieper, Belgium.  The cemetery was commenced after the Battle of Pilkem and continued as a front line cemetery until March 1918 and it was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in from small burial grounds around Boezinge.  Private E. E. J. Cooke is buried at grave reference VI.D.7.[10]

Carlisle Cathedral Commemoration to the Border Regiment

 In 1949 the Archbishop of York dedicated the Border Regiment Chapel, with its existing memorials from the Crimean War to the First World War.  Twelve pairs of Colours hang in the nave.  The wrought iron gates with Border Regiment badges, emblems and battle honours were installed in 1949 together with the massive silver plated candlesticks and cross on the altar.  A stained glass window in the south nave represents 3 biblical warriors with 3 Border Regiment panels below.  There are 4 books of Remembrance, 2 dedicated in 1949 contain the names of the dead from the Border Regiment in both the First and the Second World Wars.

Pickering War Memorial

 Private E.E.J. Cooke is commemorated on the Pickering War Memorial together with his brother, Cecil Frederick Cooke (1891-1918) who is recorded as serving in the United States Army and died 8 October 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

References

[1] CWGC

[2] Pickering War Memorial & US Army & Meuse-Argonne cemetery details

[3] 1901 census

[4] 1911 census

[5] SDGW

[6] Provided by Phil Wright

[7] CWGC & SDGW

[8] SDGW

[9] Medal Roll

[10] CWGC

The Regimental Museum of the Border Regiment and the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, Queen Mary’s Tower, the Castle, Carlisle, Cumbria CA3 8UR. Thanks to Tony Goddard and Nick Hazelwood.

Family details and photographs have been kindly provided by philwright & clo.wilson

Photographs

COOKE E.E.J. photo

COOKE E.E.J.
photo

Cooke E.E.J. Headstone

Cooke E.E.J.
Headstone

Cooke E.E.J. Headstone detail

Cooke E.E.J.
Headstone detail

Pickering War Memorial

Pickering
War Memorial

Pickering War Memorial Detail

Pickering
War Memorial Detail

COOKE E.E.J. Commemorative Plaque

COOKE E.E.J. Commemorative Plaque