Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 26, 1887
Place of BirthSandwith, Cumberland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs Sam Cooke, mother, Moosomin, Saskatchewan
Trade / CallingFarmer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number875464
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion78th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentMoosomin, Saskatchewan
Date of EnlistmentMay 6, 1916
Age at Enlistment29
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathFebruary 15, 1973
Age at Death86
Buried AtProvost, Alberta

Cooke, Joseph

Joseph Cooke was born on 26 March 1887 in Sandwith, Cumberland, England. His father Samuel Cooke, a coal miner, and mother Sarah Bell married on 28 November 1874 in the parish of St Bees, Cumberland. It appears that Sarah already had a son at the time of the marriage, John Bell who was born in 1874. Samuel and Sarah had a number of children: Elizabeth Jane (1876-1877), Jane (1878), Isaac (1879-1879), Ruth (1880), Elizabeth (1882), Sarah Hannah (1883), Mary Ann (1885), Joseph, Esther (1888), Isabella (1889), Eleanor (1890-1890), Margaret (1891-1896), Robert (1892), and Eleanor (1897).

With the exception of Ruth and the children that died in infancy or childhood, all of the Cooke children as well as their mother Sarah were to immigrate to Canada over the years. It is likely that Elizabeth immigrated first, arriving in Canada in March of 1906 aboard the Pretoria on her way to Whitemouth, Manitoba. She had an aunt and uncle as well as cousins living in Whitemouth, her mother’s sister Jane Ann Henderson and family. Although an immigration or marriage record were not found, Joseph’s sister Mary Ann had married James Aitkenhead around 1903 and by 1907 were living in Moosomin in Saskatchewan. Joseph and his sister Esther immigrated in 1907, arriving in Quebec aboard the Empress of Britain on 21 June, the passenger list indicating that Joseph was on his way to Whitemouth.

After the death of Joseph’s father Samuel in 1912, his mother Sarah immigrated to Canada in 1913, on her way to Whitemouth but eventually settling in Moosomin. When Joseph signed his attestation papers on 6 May 1916 in Winnipeg he had been living in Moosomin. His occupation was given as farmer and his mother in Moosomin as next of kin. As a Private with the 184th Battalion, Joseph arrived in England aboard the Empress of Britain on 11 November 1916.

Once in England Joseph was transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion. In early January of 1917 he was admitted to Moore Barracks Hospital with a sprained knee. He was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park in Epsom a week later, discharged on 29 March. In May he was struck off strength to the 78th Battalion, joining the unit in the field on 10 June.

That September the 78th Battalion was in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge. On the evening of the 9th, in the YMCA tent at Zouvave Valley, Joseph had been sitting by himself writing letters. On entering the tent he had picked up what he thought was a pencil cover and later pushed his pencil into it. As it actually was a detonator there was an immediate explosion, blowing off some of Joseph’s fingers. He was admitted to the No 22 Casualty Clearing Station on the 10th and then to the No 11 General Hospital in Camiers the next day. He was discharged to Base Depot on 11 December. As with any accidental or self inflicted injury, an investigation was held with a request for a trial but as the witnesses were injured by the time of the proposed date of the trial it was decided that it was not possible to take action, the wounding labeled as negligently self inflicted, and that Joseph had been sufficiently punished by his injuries.

Reclassified as medical category B2, Joseph was transferred to the Canadian Labour Pool on 12 December. In January of 1918 his injuries resurfaced and he was admitted to the No 7 Canadian General Hospital in Г‰taples and then on to the No 72 General Hospital in Trouville on 1 February. On the 22nd he was transferred to the No 15 Convalescent Depot in Trouville, discharged on 23 March to the Canadian General Base Depot.

Granted permission to marry, Joseph married Elizabeth Aitkenhead on 14 September 1918 in St John’s Parish, Hensingham, Cumberland, England. Born on 26 September 1891 in Goosebutts, Whitehaven, Cumberland, Elizabeth was the daughter of James and Frances Ann (née Benson) Aitkenhead. Joseph’s sister Mary Ann had married Elizabeth’s brother James and his brother Robert had married her sister Margaret in 1916. In December of 1918 Joseph was transferred to England from the Labour Pool, and with the end of the war embarked for Canada on 4 March 1919 on the Grampian, arriving in Saint John, New Brunswick on the 14th. Elizabeth had already arrived in Saint John on 1 March aboard the Scotian.

Joseph and Elizabeth were to make Whitemouth their home where they farmed. Children born to the family in Manitoba were Evelyn (1919-2004), Myrtle (1920), Frances Anne (1921-2007), Andrew (1922-1981), Joseph (1923-1944), William Edward (1925-1925), Alice (1926-2007) and Kenneth Raymond (1927-2007). Along the way the family relocated to the Kenora, Ontario area to farm. In 1941 son Joseph enlisted in Kenora and as a Private with the Essex Scottish Regiment he was killed in action on 16 October 1944. He is interred in the Bergen op Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, Bergen op Zoom Municipality, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Joseph is commemorated on the Kenora Cenotaph and on the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion Cenotaph. Son Andrew also enlisted in Kenora in 1941 and served as a Bombardier with the Royal Canadian Field Artillery in the United Kingdom and continental Europe, discharged in Winnipeg in January 1946. Not only did Joseph and Elizabeth’s daughter Evelyn lose her brother Joseph in the war but also her first husband. Lance Corporal Benjamin Parmeter died of his wounds, high explosive shell wounds left calf and abdomen and compound fracture right femur and mandible, on 20 February 1944. He is interred in the Moro River Canadian Cemetery in Ortona, Provincia di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy. He is also commemorated on the two cenotaphs in Kenora.

Joseph and Elizabeth moved to Provost, Alberta later in life where Joseph died on 15 February 1973. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife and daughters Evelyn (Copeland) Hendricks, Myrtle, Frances Ann (James) Duncan, Alice (Graham) Thorpe, and sons Andrew and Ken as well as his sister Isabella Jenkinson who died in Winnipeg later that year. He was predeceased by his mother Sarah in 1925 in Moosomin, sister Eleanor Matthews in 1936 in Moosomin, sister Ruth Vincent in 1938 in England, sister Jane Telford in 1945 in Winnipeg, sister Elizabeth Henderson in 1960 in Whitemouth, sister Mary Ann Aitkenhead in 1960 in Moosomin, brother Robert in 1965 in England, and sister Esther Horsburgh in 1969 in Moosomin. Elizabeth moved to Prince George in British Columbia where daughter Alice Thorpe and family were living and died there on 3 April 1981. Joseph is interred in the Provost Cemetery while Elizabeth is interred in the Prince George Cemetery.

By Judy Stockham

Joseph’s grandson Glen Hendricks’ research on this family was very valuable in the writing of Joseph’s story. The family photos are courtesy of Glen.

Cooke-Joseph-2 Cooke-Joseph-3 Cooke-Joseph-4 Cooke-Joseph-4b Cooke-Joseph-5a Cooke-Joseph-5 Cooke-Joseph-6 Cooke-Joseph-6a Cooke-Joseph-6b Cooke-Joseph-6b Cooke-Joseph-7 Cooke-Joseph-8 Cooke-Joseph-9 Cooke-Joseph-10

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