Sergeant 8895 Albert Cook
2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment
[He is wrongly shown on the War Memorial as a Private Soldier]
Albert Cook was born in Union Workhouse in Park Street on 15th February 1890 to Jane Cook. Little is known of Sergeant Cook's time in Hungerford but in the 1901 census he was living at 19 Priory Place (Moon Lane) with his stepfather and mother. He probably had a sister named Alice.
He was a regular soldier who had served in the Regiment for nine years prior to his death. If that was the case he would have been serving in India with the battalion prior to the war.
At some point in 1917 he was wounded and gassed and returned to England for treatment. Whilst being treated for his wounds at Naunton Park Hospital, Cheltenham he died on 29 May 1917, age 27. It was reported that he was suffering in hospital for nine weeks. His remains were brought back to Hungerford for interment on 2 Jun 1917 at St Saviour's churchyard, Eddington.
If he was in hospital for nine weeks then it is possible he received his injuries when the battalion was on operations from the 4th – 6th April 1917.
- Sgt Albert Cook's CWGC headstone in St Saviour's churchyard, 2017 (by Dr Jimmy Whittaker)
Battalion War diary for that period reads:
4th April 1917:
The Battalion co-operated with the 20th Division in an attack on METZ-EN-COUTURE, the Battalion's objective being GOUZEAUCOURT WOOD and line Q.29.a.3.0 to Q.21.d.8.1.
On the night of 5th/6th April, the 2nd LINCOLNSHIRE REGT relieved the Battalion in the left of the Outpost Line, "A" and "C" Coys returning to DESSART WOOD. "B" and "D" Coys to FINS and Battalion H.Q. to the Quarry, FINS.
Point of Interest:
Uncle Harry referred to in the newspaper report could be H J Cook who is listed on the war memorial, but on whom we have no information.
The Newbury Weekly News reported:
Died from Wounds
On Saturday last, June 2nd, Sergeant Cook, who has died from wounds received on active service, was buried at Eddington Churchyard, and the interment was attended by six sergeants and others, also a bugler from his regiment, the Royal Berks. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack and several beautiful wreaths. The vicar of Hungerford officiated, and the hymn sung was 'Brief life is here our portion'.
The mourners were Mrs H. Munday (Aunt), Miss L. Munday (cousin), Mrs W. Munday (Newbury), Mrs F. Munday (Littlecote), sisters and brothers in law; Mrs Green, Mrs Franklin, Mrs Townshend, Mrs Hunt, Mrs Wheeler (Friends). Uncle Harry was not able to attend, being on active service in France Wreaths were received, two from his aunts, from cousins Queenie and Freddie, Mr and Mrs Franklin, and three from Cheltenham Hospital where he died. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr H. Annetts.
Alan Dawson kindly contacted the Virtual Museum (Jul 2015) with further information about Albert Cook:
"Albert was born 15th February 1890 to Jane Cook with no named father on the birth certificate. He was born in The Union workhouse in Hungerford where Jane was resident.
On the 1891 census, he was resident in Moon Lane Hungerford, his name being recorded as Albert Gilbert, Jane Cook having married George Gilbert in the third quarter of 1890. George Gilbert declares Albert aged 1, as his son along with his sister Matilda Alice Gilbert aged 3, who he declares his daughter.
On the 1901 census, residing at 19 Priory Place Hungerford, Albert aged 11, is now declared as George’s stepson and named as Albert Cook, his sister is now shown as Alice Cook aged 13, George’s stepdaughter.
In the census of 1911, it can be seen that Albert Cook is in India with the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Berkshire regiment, his age being shown as 22. I believe that he was only 21 at this time and may have added a year to his age in order to enter military service. I have been unable to locate date of entry into the army.
At the time of his death in 1917, he is recorded as being 27 on his death certificate, again suggesting that he was aged 21 whilst in India.
The surnames of family members at the funeral were misspelt by the local newspaper at the time. The correct spelling is MUNDY, I am still working on this area of the family tree."