Raymond James COOKE


COOKE, Raymond James

Service Number: SX8862
Enlisted: 13 July 1940, Adelaide, SA
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Chain of Ponds, South Australia, 23 November 1912
Home Town: Chain of Ponds, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Schooling: Torrens Hill School, South Australia
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Killed in Action, Libya, 1 May 1941, aged 28 years
Cemetery: Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma, Libya
Grave 7, A, 10 , Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma, Darnah province, Libya
Memorials: Adelaide South Australian Railways WW1 & WW2 Honour Boards, Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Gumeracha Our Fallen Heroes WW2 Honour Board
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World War 2 Service

13 Jul 1940: Involvement Private, SN SX8862
13 Jul 1940: Enlisted Adelaide, SA
13 Jul 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SN SX8862, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Date unknown: Involvement
Date unknown: Involvement

Forever Missed

Raymond James Cooke SX8862
Ray was the only son of James Alexander and Beatrice Amy Cooke, born in Chain of Ponds in the Adelaide Hill on the 23rd November, 1912. He had four sisters, Dora, Rita, Trix and Verna Margaret who was born on the 31st January 1917 but lived for just 10 months. She was buried at the local Chain of Ponds cemetery where James was the curator.
The children attended the local Torrens Hill School which was constructed for children living in the adjoining towns of Millbrook, Chain of Ponds, Prairie, Cudlee Creek and Holland’s Creek.
Typical of country communities, Ray was actively involved in both football and cricket for Chain of Ponds as was his father as a cricket umpire with the Memorial Oval Cricket Club. Ray began his football playing career with Chain of Ponds before the club affiliated with the North-Eastern Hills Association in 1936 when Ray became their delegate and his father James the secretary.
With the outbreak of WWII Ray enlisted on the 13th July, 1940 in Adelaide, aged 27. He was assigned to the newly formed 2/48th Battalion, where his initial days were spent in the cold of the Pavilions, now part of the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds, before the new enlistees headed to Woodside for their preliminary training. After pre-embarkation leave, the 2/48th contingent embarked on the Stratheden for the Middle East, on the 7th November 1940, arriving on the 19th December 1940.
Their 2/48th Battalion completed a few months training in Cyrenaica before going to Tobruk at the start of April 1941 where the dust, flies, heat, minimal water supplies and constant bombardment were quite a challenge to these fresh new enlistees. They were to become the famed Rats of Tobruk.
Within a month, Ray was killed in action on May 1st, just 10 months after enlisting. John Glenn in his book, ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’ described conditions at Dimra at that time: “At 3:50 am on 1st May the men of the 2/48th stood-to to await the outcome of the battle which had raged all through the night. In thick mist, darkness, and bitter cold they snatched a quick breakfast of bully beef and hard biscuits.”
The remainder of that day was chaotic, information scant, the men weary and under heavy fire and a sandstorm raged. The 2/48th Battalion suffered huge casualties. The next morning there was a terrific dust storm but a foot patrol set out to find their soldiers who had not returned. For a few of those missing men it was some time before their fate was confirmed and this was the case with Ray. Mark Johnson in his recent book, ‘Derrick In His Own Words’ explained that ‘On 1 May the 2/48th suffered 51 casualties, including 16 killed. Besides Ray, these included Herbert Neumann SX8014 from Aldgate, Robert Carey SX7943 from Portland, John Christerson SX7791 from Yorketown, John Marshall SX7759 from Hawthorn, William Gates SX6867 from Brompton and Allan Glanville Porter SX7315 all from the 2/48th Battalion. A tragic day.
Accurate news took time to reach Australia. The Advertiser reported the known casualties on the 21st May ‘41. SOUTH AUSTRALIA Abroad Killed in Action— Pte. George M. Best. SX1391, 2/10th Murray Bridge; Pte. Robert H. Carey, SX7943, Inf., Portland; Pte. John W. Christerson, SX7791. Yorketown; Pte. William T. Gates, SX6867. 2/48th Brompton: Pte. John H. H. Marshall. SX7759. 2/48th Hawthorn; Pte. P. R. Miller, SX9101, 2/8 Field Med., Lucindale; Pte. Allan G. Porter. SX7315, 2/48th, Kent Town. The News carried the report at the time that ‘Pte. R. J. Cooke, 28, who was reported missing believed killed, on May 4, is the only son of Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Cooke, of Chain of Ponds. He lived at Chain of Ponds all his life, and was well known in cricket and football circles in the district. Pte. Cooke left Australia in November.’ However, his was quickly qualified in The Chronicle and Advertiser on the 29th May reporting ‘Missing, Believed Killed.— Pte. R. J. Cooke, SX8862, Inf., Chain of Ponds.’ The next week the Advertiser was quick to correct their wording on the 7th June ’41 tempering their previous report, saying ‘The word "late" appeared inadvertently under the photograph of Pte. R. J. Cooke in "The Advertiser" on Thursday. He is reported missing.’ The family continued to hope he had survived, or at wore was a Prisoner of War, but two years later in June ’43 more reports appeared in the Advertiser stating that ‘Previously Reported Missing, Believed Killed, Now Reported Killed in Action SX8862 Pte R J Cooke. Inf., Chain of Ponds.’ It was not until 1946 that his family changed the wording of their tribute to him each May from ‘Missing believed killed’ to ‘reported killed in action’.
Raymond and his fellow 2/48th soldiers were re-buried on the 17th May ’44 at the Knightsbridge War cemetery, Acroma, Raymond in Grave 7, A, 10 and surrounded by others from the 2/48th Battalion including Sergeant Leslie K. Tonkin, SX6911, Private Raymond J. Cooke SX8862, Pte Douglas E. Bagshaw SX7468, Private John H Marshall SX7759, Private Walter A. Birrell SX6060, Private Robert Carey SX7943 and Private Raymond G. Young SX6607 all of whom lost their lives on May 1st. Ray has a simple cross but no inscription on his headstone.
With peace being declared and troops returning home, faint hopes of Ray returning were gone. His father resigned as the curator of the Chain of Ponds cemetery in June ’44. The family had moved from Chain of Ponds but in February ’47, James was hospitalised. ‘COOKE - On February 4, at hospital, James Alexander, late of Chain of Ponds, dearly beloved husband of Beatrice Amy, and loving father of Dora, Rita, Trix and Ray (deceased); late 2/48th Battalion, 2nd A.I.F. Aged 71 years. Beautiful memories left behind Of a husband and father always gentle and kind.’ He was buried at Centennial Park Cemetery, then located in Springfield.
His family continued to remember Ray each year on the 4th May whereas his army records indicate he was killed on the 1st May ‘41.
Advertiser Tuesday 5 May 1942, COOKE. R. J.—Not only today but every day we are lovingly and anxiously thinking of our dearly loved and only son and brother Ray, 2/48th Btn missing, believed killed May 4 1941. Inserted by his loving mother, father and sisters. Dora, Rita, and Trix.
Advertiser Tuesday 4 May 1943, COOKE, R. J.—A tribute of love to our dearly loved and only son and brother, Ray believed killed in Tobruk. May 4. 1941.—Remembered always, mother and father (Chain of Ponds), and sisters Dora, Rita and True.
Advertiser Thursday 4 May 1944, COOKE, R. J.—A tribute of love to our only son and brother Ray, missing, believed killed Tobruk. May 4. 1941. We will always remember. —Mother and father, sisters Dora. Rita. Trix.
Advertiser Friday 4 May 1945, COOKE. R.J.-A tribute of love to our only son and brother Ray. Missing believed killed. Tobruk, May 4. 1941 Hearts that loved you never forget. Mother and Father- sisters Dora, Rita, Trix
Advertiser Saturday 4 May 1946, COOKE. —in loving memory of Ray, SX8862, 2/48 Bat, reported killed in action at Tobruk on May 4, 1941. Ever in our thoughts. —inserted by father, mother and sisters, Dora, Rita and Trix.
Advertiser Monday 5 May 1947, COOKE. — Loving remembrance of Ray, 2/48th Bat., presumed killed Tobruk. May 4, 1941. Cherished memories of one so dear. Treasured deeply from year to year. — Mother and sisters. Dora, Rita, Trix.
Advertiser Wednesday 4 May 1949, COOKE. —Cherished memories of dear Ray, 2/48th Batt., presumed killed, Tobruk, May 4, 1941. —Ever remembered by loving mother and sisters, Dora, Rita and Trix.
Advertiser Thursday 4 May 1950, COOKE, R. J. — Cherished memories of dear Ray, 2/48th Batt., presumed killed, Tobruk, May 4, 1941. — Ever remembered by loving mother and sisters Dora, Rita and Trix.
Advertiser Friday 4 May 1951, COOKE. — Loving remembrance of Ray 2/48th Batt. killed in action Tobruk. May 4. 1941. His sacrifice was our shelter. — Mother and sisters.
Advertiser Monday 5 May 1952, COOKE, Raymond. — Treasured memories of our dear son and brother, k.i.a.. Tobruk. May 4. 1941.— Always remembered by his mother and sisters.
Advertiser Monday 4 May 1953, COOKE. —Cherished memories of our only son and brother Ray, 2nd/48th Batt., presumed killed Tobruk, May 4, 1941. —Ever remembered by mother and sisters. Dora, Rita and Trix.

Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion.

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