William COCKS


COCKS, William

Service Number: 1037
Enlisted: 7 September 1914, Morphettville, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: St Breock, Near Wadebridge, Cornwall, England, March 1887
Home Town: Goodwood, Unley, South Australia
Schooling: Wadebridge Council School, Cornwall, England
Occupation: Railway Porter
Died: Killed In Action, Gallipoli , Gallipoli, Dardanelles, Turkey, 23 May 1915
Cemetery: Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli
Plot III, Row D, Grave 16. Name also at panel 58 at the AWM, Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli Peninsula, Canakkale Province, Turkey
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Adelaide South Australian Railways WW1 & WW2 Honour Boards, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

7 Sep 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1037, Morphettville, South Australia
20 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1037, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
20 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1037, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Adelaide
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1037, 10th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli

Help us honour William Cocks's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Aberfoyle Park High School

Like many in the AIF, William Cocks was English born, having arrived in Australia aged 22 in 1909.  

Prior to leaving the UK for Australia he was noted as being a Builder.  He also had prior military service, in the Garrison Artillery in the UK.

Described on enlisting as 27 years 6 months old; single; 5' 8 1/2" tall; 158 lbs; fresh complexion; brown eyes; brown hair; Church of England; tattoos on right and left arms.

Following enlistment, he undertook basic training at Morphettville Racecourse and was assigned to D' Company, 10th Battalion as they set about recruiting and training the expeditionary force.

On the 20th October, the 10th Battalion had struck camp at Morphettville and embarked from Outer Harbour, Port Adelaide on board HMAT A11 Ascanius.  By this time William was posted to E Company of the 10th Infantry Battalion.

Travelling with the Battalion on the great convoy he would have been witness to the excitement at the news of the German Raider Emden being taken on and defeated by HMAS Sydney.

On December 1, they anchored off Serapeum in Egypt from whence they entrained and went into camp in the shadow of the pyramids at Mena Camp for further training and the conduct of security duties protecting the Suez Canal.

On the 12th March the 10th Battalion was embarked on board Ioniania to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.  It was clear the ANZACs were to be committed to an operation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  The 10th Battalion and its sister units the 9th (Qld) and 11th (WA) Battalions, were subsequently ordered to form the advance guard of the 3rd Brigade Covering Force at Gallipoli.  They would be the first ashore. 

The Covering Force suffered heavily in the first few days with nearly 50% casualties.

William Cocks survived these initial travails.  He also survived the great Turkish counter attack of the 19/5/1915 when the Australians in the front line (including the 10th Battalion) mowed down hundreds of Turks engaged in a futile attempt to throw the ANZACs back into the sea. But it was not to be for long. 

William Cocks had been noted as a very good rifle shot and at some point he was assigned as a 'sharpshooter' in his Company.  The term 'sniper' was not in general use at that time, and designated marksmen were not equipped with specialist rifles.  They were also up against well trained opponents, and sniping and counter sniping became a deadly game.  Sniping is as much about concealment and fieldcraft as it is about high level shooting skills, and the 'trade' was still in its infancy among the AIF.  It is highly likely that William Cocks was engaged in this deadly undertaking and in all probability he is likely to have fallen victim to an opposite number on the 23rd May 1915, as he was the only 10th Battalion casualty that day. 

William's grave is one of a number of 10th Battalion graves of men who died in late May that feature in a well known photograph (copy attached)

NoK:  Father William Cocks and Mother Louisa Cocks,
living at 4 Glencoe Terrace, Wardebrige, Cornwall, England.

Previous service:
12 months Devon Royal Garrison Artillery Militia.

Resident at c/o Mrs Dover, Queen Street, Goodwood, South Australia

7/9/1914       Enlisted at Morphettville, South Australia.  Completed medical at Morphettville - fit for service

20/10/1914   Embarked from Outer Harbour, Port Adelaide on board HMAT A11 Ascanius

23/5/1915 killed in action  (28 years old)

Interred Divisional Cemetery, Shrapnel Gully
(with his comrades who had fallen on the 19/5/1915)
in a small unit plot illustrated in the main photograph. 
Plot IV, Row C, Grave 2 
buried by:     Chaplain J C McPhee

Later reinterred into:  Shrapnel Valley Cemetery Plot III, Row D, Grave 16. 

1914-15 Star (4100); British War medal (4578); Victory medal (4577);
Memorial Plaque and Memorial Scroll (305873).

Narrative by Steve Larkins supplemented by data sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan.  22/2/2015.  Lest we forget.



Biography contributed by Geoffrey Gillon

Place of Association-Glenelg, South Australia, Australia.

Address c/o Mrs Dover, Queen Street, Goodwood, South Australia

He was 28 and the son of William and Louisa Cocks, of 4, Glencoe Terrace, Wadebridge, Cornwall, England.

1891 CENSUS Saint Breock, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom

Louisa  Cock Wife 41 Cornwall, England

James Cock Son 12 Cornwall, England

Thomas Cock Son 10 Cornwall, England

Arthur Cock Son 5 Cornwall, England

William Cock Son 4 Cornwall, England

Charley Cock Son 0 Cornwall, England

1901 CENSUS- Wadebridge, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom

William Cocks Head 50

Louisa Cocks Wife 49

Arthur Cocks Son 17

Thomas Cocks Son 20

William Cocks Son 13

Harry Cocks Son 8

Enlistment date 7 September 1914 Private 10th Battalion, E Company.

Unit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board Transport A11 Ascanius on 20 October 1914-he was then aged 27.

He was awarded a medal for shooting and was chosen as Sharpshooter whilst serving with his Battalion in Turkey.

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli

He is one of three Australian war casualties honoured on the Wadebridge War Memorials.

It appears that his brother, Arthur was  also a casualty of the Great War. He served with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry-Service Number: 02017

Died 05 August 1919 aged 34 years old-Buried ST. BREOKE CHURCHYARD.


Biography contributed by Geoffrey Gillon

William's father, also William, was a mason.
He was married twice
1. Louisa Hooper 1851-1916
2. Harriett George 1917

His son William emigrated to Australia in 1909.
He enlisted on 7 Sept 1914 at Morphetville.
He was one of the first ashore with the 10th Batt at Galipoli.
He was a sniper for his Battallion and it is probable that he was shot by his opposite number as he was the only casualty that day. 28th May 1915.

The inscription on this grave states that William's son Harry Cock died on the 5 May 1917 and was buried at Beira which is in Mozambique, East Africa.
CWGC states that there were only 6 burials and none of these is Harry Cock, nor any before the winter of 1918.
Over 100,000 British soldiers died in the East African Campaign, some killed in action most from disease.
There is no record of Harry's service career, nor his death though William, Arthur and Henry are on the Wadebridge war memorial.
The last record is in 1911 when Harry lived at home in Wadebridge with his parents and his brother Arthur.
Arthur died 5 July 1919 and is buried in ST. BREOKE CHURCHYARD
William apparently had 3 sons who died in the Great War.

Family Members

William Cock 1848–1925

Louisa Hooper Cock 1851–1916


Mary Ann Cock 1873–1877

William J.H Cock 1875–1876

John Henry Cock 1876–1878

Arthur Cock 1885–1919

Fred Cock 1888–1889

Charles Alex Cock 1890–1892

Ernest Cock 1897–1897

It is possible that William's father changed the family surname because the grave marker on the family grave in St Breoke Churchyard shows his name as Cock.