John Harold Cook was born and brought up in Moulsham and worked as a tailor’s cutter assistant. He joined the army and died from wounds in July 1916 in the early weeks of the Battle of the Somme. His family home was in Wolseley Road.
COOK, JOHN HAROLD,
Private, 7th (Service) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
A decade later the 1911 census 16 year-old John living with his parents and four younger brothers at 6 Wolseley Road. He was employed as a tailor’s cutter assistant. His father was a general labourer and post office pensioner. Arthur Saltmarsh was still at number 10.
John enlisted in London and was posted into the 7th (Service) Battalion of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), one of the battalions of Kitchener’s New Armies which was formed in Canterbury, Kent in September 1914. It was attached to the 55th Brigade of the 18th (Eastern) Division. John landed in France on 28th July 1915.
John died from wounds on 13th July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme while serving as Private S/1586. He was aged 20 and may have been wounded when his battalion advanced towards Montauban on 1st July 1916 or on 13th July 1916 when the battalion was in action at Trônes Wood near Guillemont.
John has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, near Albert, Somme, France, on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, and the Moulsham Parish Memorial, St John’s Church, Moulsham.
He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal.
The Essex County Chronicle of 13th July 1917 carried an in memoriam notice from his family:
“Cook - In loving memory of Pt. J. H. Cook, Buffs, who was reported died of wounds on the 13th July, 1916. - From his parents. sisters, and brothers. - S. Cook, 6 Wolseley Rd., Chelmsford.”
John was born in Moulsham on 13th December 1894, the son of the postman George Davies Cook (sometimes ‘Cooke’) and Sarah Elizabeth Cook (nee Turpin).
He was baptised at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 4th May 1895. At the time his father was a letter carrier of 6 Wolseley Terrace [Road], Chelmsford (pictured).
John’s father had been born in 1861 in Govilon, Monmouthshire, had been living in Baddow Road, Great Baddow in 1881 and by then was a letter carrier. John’s mother had been born in 1861 in Great Saling.
John’s parents had married at All Saints’ Church in Rayne on 10th January 1885 at which time John’s father was a 23 year-old gardener living at Great Baddow; while his mother was aged 24 and resident in Rayne.
By 1891 the couple were living at 39 Roman Road in Chelmsford, an address they were to remain at until around 1894.
John’s nine siblings, all Chelmsford-born included George William Cook (born in 1885 and baptised at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 13th September 1885), Agnes Kate Cook (born in 1887, baptised at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 12th June 1887, died 1973), Ernest Charles Cook (born in 1888 and baptised at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 19th December 1888), Florence Mary Cook (born in 1890 and baptised at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 12th October 1890), Bessie Eva Cook (born in 1892 and baptised at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 1st October 1892), Victor Cook (baptised at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 31st July 1897), Cyril Davies Cook (born on 16th April 1899, baptised at St John’s Church,
Moulsham on 11th June 1900, died 1979), Robert Cook (born 7 May 1901, baptised at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 3rd August 1901, died 1987) and Albert Edwin Cook (born on 7th February 1903 and baptised at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 29th August 1903, died 1925).
John commenced his education at Moulsham Infants School in Moulsham Street on 26th August 1898, at a time when he was living at 6 Wolseley Road, Chelmsford.
The 1901 census recorded his family still resident at that house. John was aged six. He was accompanied by his father (a letter carrier), his mother and seven siblings. His eldest brother George was a draper’s assistant. At the time Thomas Fewell lived two doors away at 8 Wolseley Road, while a further two doors on number ten was home to six year-old Arthur Saltmarsh. All three boys were to die in the war.
John ‘s father retired from the Post Office in December 1903.
John’s parents were listed by the 1918 register of electors at 6 Wolseley Road, and his father, if not both parents, remained there until at least 1929. John’s father died in 1931, aged 69. His mother died eight years later, aged 78.