The AIF Project

Thomas COOKE

Regimental number3055
Date of birth5 July 1881
Place of birthKaikoura, New Zealand
SchoolKaikoura Demonstration High School, New Zealand
Age on arrival in Australia31
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationBuilder
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation33
Height5' 5.875"
Weight145 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs Maud E Cooke, c/o Mrs W Richardson, Sugarloaf, Brookly, Wellington, New Zealand
Previous military serviceServed in the Wellington Garrison Band, New Zealand
Enlistment date15 February 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll16 February 1915
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name24th Battalion, 7th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/41/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A73 Commonwealth on 26 November 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll8th Battalion
Recommendations (Medals and Awards)

Victoria Cross


Displayed great fortitude and heroism at Pozieres, 22-26 July 1916.
Posthumous award. No known grave.
Recommendation date: 31 July 1916

FateKilled in Action 28 July 1916
Place of death or woundingPozieres, Somme Sector, France
Age at death35
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
52
Medals

Victoria Cross

"For most conspicuous bravery. After a Lewis gun had been disabled, he was ordered to take his gun and gun-team to a dangerous part of the line. Here he did fine work, but came under very heavy fire, with the result that finally he was the only man left. he still stuck to his post, and continued tofire his gun. When assistance was sent he was found dead beside his gun. He set a splendid example of determination and devotion to duty."

Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Taken on strength, 8th Bn, Serapeum, 24 February 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 26 March 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 31 March 1916.

Killed in action, France, 28 July 1916.

Posthumously awarded Victoria Cross.

Note on Red Cross File No 0790910Q: 'No trace Germany. Certified by Capt. Mills. 10.10.19.'

Medals: Victoria Cross, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, COOKE Thomas
Red Cross File No 0790910Q