CWG: Private Samuel Cook

Private Samuel Cook

Samuel Cook was born in Bedfordshire, the eldest of two children to Alfred and Phoebe Cook.

Alfred was a forester, which saw the family move around the country; the 1881 census found them living in Rutland, ten years later the family was recorded in Northamptonshire and by the 1911 census, they were in Dorset.

Samuel was quick to follow in his father’s footsteps, supporting his mother and sister after Alfred died in 1906.

The war was underway when Samuel was called up. His Devonshire Regiment service records show that he enlisted on 11th December 1915. His fitness seemed to have determined the path his military career would take.

Initially Private Cook was classified as C1 (free from serious organic diseases and able to serve in garrisons at home, able to walk 5 miles, see to shoot with glasses, and hear well), but was upgraded to B2 within six months. This identified that he was free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service on lines of communication in France, or in garrisons in the tropics and able to walk 5 miles, see and hear sufficiently for ordinary purposes.

Samuel was first enrolled in 13th (Works) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, before being transferred to the 311th (HS) Labour Company in Plymouth.

Private Cook was one of the thousands of soldiers who contracted influenza and subsequently died of pneumonia on 1st November 1918.

There seems to be some dispute over how and when Samuel fell ill. A request for a detailed medical report was sent, “as he appeared to have contracted the disease from which he died whilst on leave for the purpose of getting married”. The same request confirms that he was never admitted to hospital while in the company. (There are no records oh Samuel having married, so I am assuming that his leave may have been for wedding preparations, of normal leave.)

The report came back confirming that he has died from “pneumonia complicating influenza which was contracted whilst on service at Beaulieu”.

However and wherever it happened, the disease claimed Private Samuel Cook’s life; he lies at rest in Sherborne Cemetery, Dorset.

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