William Cooke

WILLIAM COOKE (1893 - 1915)

William, named after his uncle, was one of bricklayer's Labourer Thomas and his wife Mary's nine children. The family lived at 22, Nixon's Yard in Macclesfield. It is likely that William was a student at St Alban's School. We know that, prior to the War, William was a member of St Alban's Catholic Club and was a player in the club's football team. By 1911, William's parents with their ten children had moved to 13 Great King Street and William was working as a cotton weaver in the town. At the time of his death, William was engaged to Lily Jackson who lived on Princess Street, Bollington.

Attesting in his home town, William joined the 1/7th Cheshire Regiment. As part of the 53rd (Welsh) Division, William and his Regiment became part of The Mediterranean Expeditionary Force to Gallipoli that made a landing at Suvla Bay, just north of Anzac, on 9 August 1915. Sir Ian Hamilton, Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, describes, in his "Gallipoli Diary", being told that the newly arrived troops of the 53rd Division,

"...would not secure the hills with any amount of guns, water and ammunition assuming ordinary opposition, as the attacking spirit was absent; chiefly owing to the want of leadership by the Officers."

Having teamed the 53rd Division up with "the Irish Division", Hamilton noted on 18 August,

"[t]here is a new spirit of energy and hope in the higher ranks but the men have meanwhile been aimlessly marched and counter-marched, muddled, and knocked about so that their spirit has suffered in consequence."

William's Regiment were involved in operations in Suvla Bay and the surrounding area, where they suffered heavy casualties. On 3 September 1915, William and two of his comrades (one of whom was fellow Maxonian, Harold Warren) left their trench to bring back fresh water for the troops. William and Harold were killed when a shell shell exploded above them as they made their way back with the water, a third man was wounded.

Twenty-one year old William has no known resting place. However, his brother-in-law wrote at the time to William's sister telling her

"...I saw your brother buried...he was put to rest very nicely. A little cross was put on his grave".

A stretcher-bearer in the 1/7th Cheshires wrote to his uncle, Mr Hadfield, of Chester Road, that he was called at about six o'clock to three men who had been hit. He saw William had been hit.

"I could see all was up with him, so I bandaged him up and stayed with him until he passed away. He died peacefully and we buried him this morning."

William is commemorated on The Helles Memorial, which stands on the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. When the Park Green War Memorial was unveiled in Macclesfield on 21st September 1921, two floral tributes were laid for William. One included the words,

"In deepest sympathy to Private W. Cooke, from Mr and Mrs Jackson"

(this was presumably from the parents of William's fiancee) and

"In deepest sympathy to Private W. Cooke, from Mr and Mrs Henshaw".

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