Algernon COOK


COOK, Algernon

Service Number: 397
Enlisted: 3 November 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 41st Infantry Battalion
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 20 August 1882
Home Town: Ormiston, Redland, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Carpenter
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 11 June 1917, aged 34 years
Cemetery: Messines Ridge British Cemetery
Spec. Memorial A. 5., Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Messines, Flanders, Belgium
Memorials: 41st Battalion Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Cleveland Shire Council Roll of Honour, Cleveland War Memorial, Maroon War Memorial, Redlands Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

3 Nov 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 397, Brisbane, Queensland
18 May 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 397, 41st Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
18 May 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 397, 41st Infantry Battalion, HMAT Demosthenes, Sydney
11 Jun 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 397, 41st Infantry Battalion, Battle of Messines

Military History

Algernon Cook #397 41st Battalion

Algy Cook reported he had been born in Brisbane. At the time of his enlistment he was 33 years old, married to Jane Cook. Algy and Jane lived at Ormiston and Algy worked as a carpenter. The official records do not show any connection to the Maroon district however there are sufficient clues to deduce that there was a family connection.

Another soldier, George Oswald Cook, is also listed on the Maroon memorial. Like Algy, George was a carpenter and he gave his father, Tom Cook of Cotswold, Rathdowney, as his next of kin. George enlisted on 2nd November 1915; Algy enlisted the day after. It is reasonable to guess that Algy and George were related; either brothers or uncle and nephew. A further clue is contained in a photograph held in the Australian War Memorial Collection which shows Algy Cook flanked by George and Alex Slatter. The Slatter brothers were from Maroon and are also commemorated on the Maroon Memorial. The photograph was probably taken before all three embarked for overseas while on leave. There is an un-named child on Algy’s knee; which may be Algy’s son or daughter.

After spending some time at Enoggera, Algy was drafted as an original member of the 41st Battalion AIF. He embarked for overseas in Sydney on the “Demosthenese” and the embarkation roll shows that he had allocated 4/- of his daily pay to his wife Jane. Upon arrival in Plymouth on 20th July, the reinforcements marched out to a training camp where elements of a new division, the 3rd Division AIF, were being assembled under Divisional Commander Maj Gen John Monash.

The division crossed the channel in November of 1916 and began to acclimatize to the requirements of trench life while preparing for the summer offensive of 1917 in Belgian Flanders. Compared to the rather shoddy preparations conducted on the Somme the previous year, the Flanders campaign had been in the planning stage for over 6 months. Vast models were constructed so that troops could visualise the ground they would encounter and the objectives to be reached. The campaign began with the firing of 19 underground mines under the Messines Ridge on 1st June. Over the next few days, the men of the 3rd Division would be required to advance into enemy territory in a series of actions labelled “Bite and Hold.” During one such action on 11th June, Algernon Cook was reported Killed in Action, almost certainly a casualty of artillery fire.

He was buried in a cemetery on the banks of the River Douve, 1 ¾ miles south west of Messines. His wife Jane was granted a widow’s pension of 2 pounds per fortnight. Eventually Jane also received her husband’s personal effects and in due course, campaign medals, a memorial plaque and scroll.

In 1923, the Douve cemetery was expanded to accommodate the graves of other soldiers from outlying areas. No actual trace of Algy Cook was found at that time. Instead, his name is inscribed on a memorial within the cemetery which states “Buried in this cemetery, actual grave unknown.”

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