James Thomas Cook

Memorial: Marshfield - High Street

Regiment: Wiltshire Regiment

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Private 20110

Parents: Joseph and Hannah Cook

Marital status: Single

Home address: Marshfield, Glos

Pre-war occupation: Stable Boy

Date of birth: 1895

Place of birth: Marshfield, Glos

Date of death: 05/04/1916

Buried/Commemorated at: Basra, Iraq

Age: 21

Further information:

James Thomas Cook was the son of Joseph and Hannah Cook. Joseph, a blacksmith had moved from Hawkesbury Upton to Marshfield, feeling that there were better prospects for his trade. Prior to the war, Cook had worked as a stable boy. When war came he soon joined the Army, first in the Royal Field Artillery, but soon transferring to the infantry, joining 5th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment, perhaps to join a boyhood friend. He sailed as part of a reinforcement draft first to Egypt and then to Gallipoli, joining his regiment at Sulva Bay on 17 November. Six weeks later the regiment was evacuated from Gallipoli and returned to Port Said in Egypt. The 13th (Western) Division of which the 5th Wiltshire Regiment were part, regrouped after the ordeal of Gallipoli and on 2nd February were inspected by General Sir Archibald Murray who expressed his congratulations on their high standard of readiness and how well they had recovered after seven months on the peninsula. Later that month they embarked on the P & O liner Oriana and sailed for Mesopotamia, landing at Kuwait before embarking on a smaller ship SS Ellora arriving at Basra on 1st March. Heavy storms delayed their advance until at last on 12th March the 5th Wilts boarded barges to take them up the Tigris and Tom Cook, if he did but know it was following in the footsteps of William Edwards Woodham a few weeks earlier. Their mission was to advance up the Tigris to relieve General Townsend’s small army who was besieged at Kut el Amara having been surrounded by the Turks since 9 December. Strong Turkish forces were in front of them but steadily the 13th (Western) Division made their way up the banks of the Tigris, sometimes halting to repair the Bund and levees so as to ensure continuity of supplies. There was a minor action with Turkish cavalry at Shiekh Saad before spending 10 days in Gomorrah, apparently without any ill effects or dangers to discipline. On 1st April the 5th Wiltshire Regiment moved into trenches at Umm el Hannah, preparing for an attack five days later. On 5th April Tom Cook and his comrades led a dawn assault and the enemy trenches were captured without difficulty and a dozen or so Turks were taken prisoner. Falahiyeh was the next objective and at 9.00 the Brigade advanced and two miles further on came under prolonged and heavy rifle and machine gun fire. Caught in open desert there was little cover and the 5th Wiltshire Regiment dug in for the rest of the day 800 yards from the Turkish lines. By the end of the day the 5th Wiltshires had lost 17 Other Ranks killed, including Tom Cook. So far as can be ascertained Tom Cook has no known grave but is remembered on the CWG Memorial at Basra, Iraq

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Forces War Records