William Cook

22068 Private William Arthur Cook, Bedfordshire Regiment

Born 3rd June 1894 in Berkhamsted
Died of Wounds 27th September 1916 in France

Family and Home 1, 2, 3

William Arthur Cook was born in Berkhamsted, the sixth of the seven children of William George Cook and Sarah Ann née Pooley. His father was a Coal Carter. His elder siblings were: Beatrice Daisy, b. 1881; Frederick James, b. 1885; Florence May, b. 1887; Herbert George b. 1889 and Edith Mary, b. 1891. His younger sister Sarah Ann was born in 1898; her birth and the death believed to be that of their mother were both registered in Berkhamsted in the 3rd Quarter of that year.

The family lived in Bridge Street, Berkhamsted. In 1901, William lived at 12 Bridge Street with his widowed father and his siblings. His eldest sister Beatrice, 19, was Housekeeper and his second sister, Florence, 14, was helping at home.

William’s father is believed to have died in mid-1904.

Education & Moving to Little Gaddesden 4, 5

It is not clear exactly when William moved to Little Gaddesden but he was admitted to Standard 3 at Little Gaddesden School on 16th Janaury 1905. He left on June 4th 1908, having reached Standard 7 and being over 14 years of age.

From 1907 to 1909, Jesse Blake, husband of William’s eldest sister Beatrice, was registered to vote “in the Park”, Ringshall, Great Berkhampstead. They lived at 41 Ashridge Park, which is now part of Witches Hollow and William may have lived with his sister and brother-in-law at that time.

Employment 6, 7

In 1911, William was a 16 year old Farm Labourer, a boarder living at the Reading Room, Little Gaddesden (now John o’Gaddesden’s), where Widow Annie Whitman was Caretaker. William also taught in Little Gaddesden Sunday School.

Military Service 8

William enlisted in Bedford in March 1915 while resident in Little Gaddesden. Although his entry on the Little Gaddesden War Memorial gives his regiment as the Bedfordshire Yeomanry, he served in the 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment by the time of his death.

Wounded in Action 9

On 26th September 1916, William was admitted to No 34 Casualty Clearing Station, Grovetown, Meaulte, with a gunshot wound which had caused a fractured left femur. He had been 1 year 6 months in the army and 4 months with the Field Force. On 25th September his battalion had been engaged in the Battle of Morval (Somme).

Death in France 10

On 27th September 1916, the day after his admission to hospital, 22 year old Private William Arthur Cook died of his wound in No. 34 C.C.S.

Burial in France 10

William was buried at Grove Town Cemetery, Méaulte, Somme, France.

Photo of Grove Town Cemetery
Grove Town Cemetery, Méaulte, courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Grave Reference is I. G. 31. His CWGC Casualty Record noted that he was “Son of the late William George and Sarah Ann Cook, of Berkhamsted, Herts.”

The inscription on his headstone reads:

22068 Private
W. A. Cook
Bedfordshire Regiment
27th September 1916 Age 22

The badge of the Bedfordshire Regiment is engraved within the cross.

We will remember them 11

William Arthur Cook is commemorated on the War Memorials on the village green and in St Peter & St Paul’s Church Little Gaddesden.

He is also named on the Roll of Honour in the church. As noted under Military Service above, on both the village green War Memorial and on the Roll of Honour his regiment is given as the Bedfordshire Yeomanry.

William was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. His next of kin would also have received a memorial plaque and scroll; an example of the scroll and covering letter can be seen in William Mayling’s entry.

Postscript: From the Little Gaddesden Parish Diary 12

In Autumn 1918, the Rector of Little Gaddesden, the Revd. Edward Clark, noted William’s Sunday School teaching and his death in the Parish Diary:

Before the war, beside Mr Green (the Schoolmaster), who always took a class of older boys, there were four young men teaching in the Sunday School and all four joined up at an early date. Two of these – William Fenn already mentioned in these pages, who died in hospital in France in March 1916 and William Cook, who died of wounds later in the same year, are no more. Walter Tearle is a prisoner of war since March 1918. Horace Ruffett, who proved himself a fine soldier has been given a commission. The families of the two last have left Little Gaddesden so that the Sunday School, with so much reason to be proud of them all, will not have the pleasure of welcoming any of them back.


1. https://www.findmypast.co.uk England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions

2. https://www.findmypast.co.uk England & Wales deaths 1837-2007 Transcriptions

3. https://www.findmypast.co.uk 1901 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcription

4. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906

5. https://www.findmypast.co.uk England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1832-1932

6. https://www.findmypast.co.uk  1911 Census for England & Wales

7. The Little Gaddesden Parish Diary 1877 – 1918

8. https://www.findmypast.co.uk Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919

9. https://www.findmypast.co.uk  British Armed Forces, First World War Soldiers’ Medical Records

10. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/30872/cook,-william-arthur/

11. https://www.ancestry.co.uk  British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920

12. The Little Gaddesden Parish Diary 1877 – 1918

Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at war-remembrance@littlegaddesdenchurch.org.uk.

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Research: Jane Dickson and David Heard. Text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson