Arthur Henry Joseph Cook

By November 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm0 Comments

This is my mother and father’s wedding photograph on the 20th October 1917 at St. Barnabas Church, Islington

This is my mother and father’s wedding photograph on the 20th October 1917 at St. Barnabas Church, Islington

Mr Michael Cook of Taunton kindly donated his research on his father who served in WW1 and Ww2 and scribed his dad’s WW1 diary for us to see some of the daily life he endured during WW1. Written from Mr Cook’s perspective.

My father, Arthur Henry Joseph Cook, war started when enlisted into the army for World War 1, in the autumn of 1917, as Cook, Arthur H. Pioneer 259810 Royal Engineers. He started in the army based at Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire, from where he went of to France on the 8th November 1917.

The following extracts from his diary are set out into the places referred to.

The Beginning for Pioneer Cook

But first let’s go back to the 1914 – 1918 period and look at experiences through the diary of 259810 Pioneer Arthur Henry Cook, Royal Engineers, my father.

S.S. Viper

S.S. Viper

He set sail from ‘Blighty’ on the 8th November 1917 in the S.S. Viper to land at Le Harve later that day.

SS Viper was built at the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co.’s yard in Govan in 1906 and was 315 feet in length. She had three steam turbines powering the triple screws, making her one of the company’s fastest ships with a top speed of 22 knots. The steamer worked the Ardrossan-Belfast route from 1906 to 1914. She served as a troop carrier in the English Channel during the First World War but returned to operation on her pre-war route in 1919. However the unrest in Ireland resulted in the decline in passenger traffic with Scotland and Viper was sold to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co in 1920 and renamed Snaefell.

map1Left Blighty on the evening of the 7th November 1917 on the S.S. Viper, disembarked at Le-Harve at 7o/c on the morning of the 8th. Left Le-Harve at 6pm 9th November went up the river to Rouen where we disembarked at 7am on the 10th and marched to the camp in the pouring rain. Spent four awful days there, glad to see back of that place. Left there mid-day 14th November and had a 24 hour railway journey to St. Omer.

map2Dads first visit to Rouen was on the 10th November 1917 and lasted until the 14th November 1917.

He again returned to Rouen on the 21st April 1918 for a short spell after leaving hospital after being gassed. He was doing guard duty at the POW camp and at No. 10 Hospital.

He left Rouen on the 1st May 1918 to go to the Royal Engineers (Gas Coy) Helfaut.

map3He left Rouen at mid-day on the 14th November and had a 24 hour railway journey to St. Omer, at which place we arrived at 3pm on 15th November and had 2 hours march with full packs to Helfaut. Spent about 3 weeks at Helfaut forming fours by numbers and such like. He then left there to join No.3 Coy.on the 6th December 1917, who were stationed at Baillealmont, arrived there at 2am in the morning.

He again returned to Helfaut on the 2nd May 1918, arriving at 6 pm from Rouen where left on the 1st May 1918.

We left Helfaut on the 6th December 1917 to join No.3 Coy. who were stationed at Bailbeaumont, arrived there at 2am in the morning.

First night at Bailbeumont, jerry tried to bomb us, he nearly got the canteen. Second day saw an observation balloon attacked and the aviator came down on a parachute, they pulled down balloon and sent it up again about an hour after.

Left there after a few days, on the10th December 1917, we went on to Arras.

Arrived at Arras on the 10th December 1917, where I clicked a guard first night. Stayed in Arras for a week and had a fairly decent time.

map4Left Arras on Monday the 17th December 1917 for Sailly-au-Bois.

Left Arras on Monday morning 17th December 1917 for Sailly-au-Bois in a motor lorry, got snowed up and arrived there at 6o/c in the evening, taking 6 hours to do 18 miles.

Stayed there exactly a week getting out some old gas cylinders then left there at noon of the 24th December 1917 to go on to Wandonne.

We left Sailly-au-Bois at noon on the 24th December 1917 for that never to be forgotten journey to Wandonne, where we arrived at 9-30 pm on the 26th December 1917, it took nearly three days travelling in cattle trucks and ‘bully and buiscuits’ for Xmas dinner

The first few days spent at Wandonne lazy days, no parades,so I got fed up with life owing to this sleepy hole and rotten rations.

So along came the new year, 1918.

Tuesday 1st January 1918.

Received Lylie’s Xmas parcel and football togs from Mother. Had the section dinner in the evening and had a good feed.

Wednesday 2nd January 1918.

Felt contented with the world thanks to Lylie’s parcel, nothing doing.

Thursday 3rd  January 1918.

Started parades came as a bit of a shock to get up early, went for a route march. 

Friday 4th January 1918.

Forming four by numbers and such like.

Saturday 5th January 1918.

Same as Friday until dinner time then finished. Received another parcel from   Lylie also woollen helmet and mittens. Had a loaf in the parcel which came as a God send as we were on short rations.

Sunday 6th January 1918.

Nothing doing so had a lay-in. Got paid at 11o/c. (20 F)

Monday 7th  January 1918.

Rifle drill all morning. Played football for M & L, lost 3 – 1, didn’t play a very good game.

Tuesday 8th  January 1918.

Had a fall of about 3″ of snow in the morning, parades cancelled, that’s the stuff to give-em.

Wednesday 9th January 1918.

Aiming practice in billets, snowing all afternoon and started thawing in evening.

Thursday 10th January 1918.

Billet orderly. Didn’t wake up until 8o/c when breakfast was ready.

Arthur Henry Joseph Cook

Arthur Henry Joseph Cook

Friday 11th  January 1918.

Went for a route march and got lost, snow disappeared. Supposed to go on night operation but was washed out.

Saturday 12th  January 1918.

Kit inspection then route march until dinner, afternoon off. Week passed pretty quick for once, roll on next week – end.

Sunday 13th January 1918.

Nothing doing so went to Radinghim and had a bath which cost a franc, first since I left Helfaut. Survived the shock.

Monday 14th  January 1918.

Practicing with gas cylinders all morning. Played 31, Sub at football, afternoon, rotten game owing to snow.

Tuesday 15th January 1918.

Aiming practice in Billets all morning, then gas mask drill in afternoon. Pouring with rain all day.

Wednesday 16th  January 1918.

Pouring with rain all day. Lectures in billets, fed up. Old Tom made a jam pudding. Bon.

Thursday 17th January 1918.

Raining again, more lectures on mustard gas. Had a sultana pudding for supper.

Friday 18th January 1918.

Working on gas cylinders all the morning.  Played K and drew with them in the afternoon.  Got paid at 4 – 30  (15F). No supper tonight but the boys came in and kept us awake until about 10o/c. Plenty vin blanc.

Saturday 19th January 1918.

Kit inspection, then an hours arms drill. Did nothing in the afternoon, never felt so fed up in all my life. Received photo from Ern on Friday which was very good, he also sent me a 5/- P.O.

Sunday 20th January 1918.

Nothing doing so had a lay in until about 9o/c. Still feeling fed up.

Monday 21st January 1918.

Aiming and arms drill all morning. Went to see rugby match in afternoon. Made some porridge for supper.

Tuesday 22nd  January 1918.

Testing gas cylinders in morning, had afternoon off for night operation which were cancelled.

Wednesday 23rd  January 1918.

Route march, afternoon off. Night operations on gas cylinders for an hour. Made some porridge for supper.

Thursday 24th January 1918.

Went down to rifle range near Fruges, fired 5 rounds, got a washout.

Friday 25th January 1918.

Working on gas cylinders all morning. Football match in afternoon.

Saturday 26th January 1918.

Working on gas cylinders all morning. Rugby match in afternoon.

Sunday 27th January 1918.

Billet orderly.  Played football in afternoon, won 8 – 0.  Went to service in village schoolroom in evening.

Monday 28th January 1918.

Went down to rifle range, made 15 out of possible 20.

Tuesday 29th January 1918.

Infantry drill, fed up with it.

Wednesday 30th January 1918.

Went to Fruges for a bath. Night ops at 5.30 for two hours.

Thursday 31st January 1918.

Went down to rifle range, got a wash out. Properly fed up in the evening.

Friday 1st February  1918.

Digging trenches for cylinders.

Saturday 2nd  February  1918.

Gun cleaning then pay parade. (20F).  Played J and lost 2 – 0.

Sunday 3rd  February  1918.

Nothing doing all day, another week – end wasted.

Monday 4th  February  1918.

Infantry drill all morning.  Went to see football match in afternoon.

Tuesday 5th  February  1918.

Working on cylinders all morning.  Played 35 Sub and beat them 3 – 0 in afternoon. Night operations at 8.30.

Wednesday 6th  February  1918.

Went to Fruges for a bath.

Friday 8th  February  1918.

Received Lylie’s parcel.

Saturday 9th  February  1918.

Kit Inspection. Indented for Putties and slacks and knife.

Sunday 10th  February  1918.

Played football in morning. Went to church in evening.

Monday 11th  February  1918.

Usual monkey motions.

Dad-4Tuesday 12th  February  1918.

Billet orderly.  Played 35 and 36 and beat them.  Went to see concert at Fruges in evening.

Wednesday 13th  February  1918.

Firing cancelled owing to rain.

Thursday 14th  February  1918.

Paid out (15 F).

Friday 15th  February  1918.

Went to Fruges for bath.

Saturday 16th  February  1918.

Had letter from Aunt with 2/- in it.

Sunday 17th  February  1918.

Received books and socks from Lylie.  Band played to us in afternoon.

Monday 18th  February  1918.

Gun drill.

Tuesday 19th  February  1918.

Firing, got 13 out of 20.

Wednesday 20th  February  1918.

Trench Mortar firing.

Thursday 21st   February  1918.

Full marching order for inspection.  Gun cleaning.

Dad-3Friday 22nd   February  1918.

Went to Fruges for bath.

Saturday 23rd   February  1918.

Trench mortar firing.  Paid out (10F).  Had photos taken in afternoon.

Sunday 24th  February  1918.

Nothing doing.

Monday 25th  February  1918.

Raining, inspection in billet.  Played HQ and beat them 2 – 1.

Tuesday 26th  February  1918.

Received watch from Lylie.

Wednesday 27th  February  1918.

T.M. firing.

Thursday 28th  February  1918.

Went to Fruges for bath.

Friday 1st March 1918.

More snow.

Saturday 2nd  March 1918.

Billet orderly.  Packing up guns etc, ready to go away.

Sunday 3rd  March 1918.

Left Wandomme at 12o/c, travelling all day,  some Sunday.

Monday 4th  March 1918.

Arrived Baillieu St Mark 1.30am, clicked for fatigues and got to bed about 4am.

Tuesday 5th  March 1918.

Nothing doing.

Wednesday 6th  March 1918.

Paid first visit to trenches. (old Hindenburg line).

Thursday 7th  March 1918.

Got back from line 4am.  Day off.

Friday 8th  March 1918.

On fatigues all morning.  Went to line to carry out guns.

Saturday 9th  March 1918.

Nothing doing, standing by for line.  Washed out.

Sunday 10th  March 1918.

Took shells up the line.

Monday 11th  March 1918.

Went up to fire, wind wrong, brought out guns and base plates. (These were the mortars that fired the Gas shells, so the direction of the wind was important.)

Tuesday 12th  March 1918.

Returned from line 3am.  Left Bailleux St Mark 2pm, arrived at Saultg 4pm, travelled by motor lorry.

Wednesday 13th  March 1918.

Nothing doing, had a look round.  (Saulty is on the old Hindenburg Line.)

Thursday 14th  March 1918.

Went for a route march.

Friday 15th  March 1918.

Went to Hebuterne to salvage gas cylinders, old  Somme front.

Saturday 16th  March 1918.

On fatigues in morning.  Played L. Sec. draw 1 – 1.

As mentioned in 22nd March entry [Pioneer 130121 James Park, aged 36 is buried in Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux,  France. Grave Ref. No. V1. K. 2.]

As mentioned in 22nd March entry [Pioneer 130121 James Park, aged 36 is buried in Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux, France. Grave Ref. No. V1. K. 2.]

Sunday 17th  March 1918.

Nothing doing.  Went to see football match on RFC ground, company lost     3 – 1.

Monday 18th  March 1918.

Gun cleaning.

Tuesday 19th  March 1918.

Billet orderly.

Wednesday 20th  March 1918.

Left Saulty for Boisleux au Mont by motor lorry.

Thursday 21st   March 1918.

On fatigues all morning, standing by to move off.  Johnny shelling all night, didn’t get much sleep.

Friday 22nd   March 1918.

Johnny still sending them over, pretty near.  E.F.C. burnt plenty of everything. Parks died.

Bucquoy Road Cemetery is situated on the D919 heading south from Arras to Ayette. The Cemetery is on the right hand side of the road, 9 kilometres from Arras, just before a crossroads with the D36 between Ficheux and Boisleux-au-Mont.

In November 1916, the village of Ficheux was behind the German front line, but by April 1917, the German withdrawal had taken the line considerably east of the village and in April and May, the Vll Corps Main Dressing Station was posted near for the Battles of Arras. It was followed by the 20th and 43rd Casualty Clearing Stations, which remained at Boisleux-au-Mont until March 1918, and continued to use the   Bucquoy Road Cemetery begun by the field ambulances. From early April to early August 1918 the cemetery was not used but in September and October, the 22nd, 30th and 33rd Casualty Clearing Stations came to Boisleux-au-Mont and extended it. By the date of the Armistice, it contained 1,166 burials but was greatly increased when graves were brought in from the surrounding cemeteries in the neighbourhood.

The cemetery now contains 1,901 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 168 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 23 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate 21 casualties buried by their comrades in Henin-au- Cojeul Cemetery, whose graves could not found on concentration.

The cemetery was used again in May 1940 for the burial of troops killed during the German advance. There are 136 burials and commemorations of the Second World War, 26 of the burials are unidentified and special memorials commemorate 39 soldiers whose graves in the cemetery could not be specifically located.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens.

Saturday 23rd   March 1918.

Went up digging trenches, came back to Fisheux at 3 – 30am, had to sleep in the open.

Sunday 24th  March 1918.

Went up trench digging again.

Monday 25th  March 1918.

Went out on working party, then marched full pack to Aellacourt, still sleeping in open.

Tuesday 26th  March 1918.

Went out trench digging, got back at midnight.

Wednesday 27th  March 1918.

Marched to Halloy, got here 5pm.

Thursday 28th  March 1918.

Nothing doing, had a rest and wasted it.

Friday 29th  March 1918. (Good Friday)

Went to Mondicourt to shift dump, left here 1am got back 9am.

Saturday 30th  March 1918.

Working in dump from 7-30 to 4-30, got wet through. A hard week.

Sunday 31st   March 1918.

Working on dump all day.  Sent my first green envelope.

Monday 1st April 1918.

Excused dump for bad boots.

Tuesday 2nd April 1918.

Working on dump from 3am to 9am,  left Halloy at 12o/c and arrived 1-15,  went to dump again at 9-30pm.

Wednesday 3rd April 1918.

Got back from dump 3-0am.  Left by motor at 12-0am,  arrived Erauinghim at 7-30.

Thursday 4th  April 1918.

Billet orderly.

Friday 5th  April 1918.

Nothing doing.

Saturday 6th  April 1918.

Kit inspection.  Got new pair of boots. Erauinghim, about 3 miles from  Arminteers.

Sunday 7th  April 1918.

Left here for line at 5o/c,  got  back 12-30,  got a little gas.

Tuesday 9th  April 1918.

Went sick with gas.

Wednesday 10th  April 1918.

Admitted into Australian C.C.S.

Thursday 11th  April 1918.

Left Australian C.C.S. in afternoon in Red Cross train.

Friday 12th  April 1918.

Arrived at St. John’s A.B. Hospital,  Etables at 2-30am.

Saturday 13th  April 1918.

In bed all day.

Sunday 14th  April 1918.

Got up after dinner.

Monday 15th  April 1918.

Up all day.

Tuesday 16th  April 1918.

Drew all new Khaki and underclothes.

Wednesday 17th  April 1918.

Left Hospital and went to No. 6 Coy. Depot.

Thursday 18th  April 1918.

1 hour physical jerks, messing about all rest of day.

Friday 19th  April 1918.

Left C.D for I.B.D.  rotten show.

Saturday 20th  April 1918.

Standing by in snow all day, worse than last show.

Sunday 21st  April 1918.

Left I.B.D. 2am, arrived Rouen 9pm. Slept in Y.M. all night.

Monday 22nd  April 1918.

Reached base 9am,  nothing doing.  (Dads second visit to Rouen)

Tuesday 23rd April 1918.

Drew equipment.

Wednesday 24th  April 1918.

On fatigues all day loading lories.

Thursday 25th  April 1918.

Guarding Germans at No. 10 Hospital

Friday 26th  April 1918.

On fatigues.

Saturday 27th  April 1918.

On fatigues.   Paid out (10 F)

Sunday 28th  April 1918.

On fatigues in morning, afternoon off.

Monday 29th  April 1918.

On fatigues at P.O.W. camp.

Tuesday 30th  April 1918.

Put on draft, easy day. (Left Rouen on the 1st May 1918 )

Thursday 2nd May 1918.

Arrived Helfaut at 6pm.  (Dads second visit to Helfaut, RE Headquaters)

Friday 3rd May 1918.

On fatigues all morning,  on guard at 5pm.

Saturday 4th  May 1918.

Came off guard 9am, rest of day off.

Sunday 5th  May 1918.

On fatigues in morning, afternoon off.

Monday 6th  May 1918.

On fatigues in morning,  put on draft.

Tuesday 7th  May 1918.

Left Helfaut and arrived back with the Coy. at Petit Servins behind Veimy.

Wednesday 8th  May 1918.

Day off.

Friday 10th  May 1918.

Got paid (20 F).  Standing by.

Saturday 11th  May 1918. til  Thursday 16th  May 1918.

Digging trenches.

Friday 17th  May 1918.

Standing by,  paid out (25 F).  Went up the line 6o/c.

Saturday 18th  May 1918.

Got back from line at 3am.  Went up line and got slightly shelled, a bit too lively for this child.

Sunday 19th  May 1918.

Got back from line at 4-30am.

Monday 20th  May 1918.

Went up line.

Tuesday 21st  May 1918.

Got back from line 3am.

Thursday 23rd  May 1918.

Nothing doing.

Friday 24th  May 1918.

On guard.

Saturday 25th  May 1918.

Off guard 10am.  Went up line and got back 12-30am Sunday morning.

Sunday 26th  May 1918.

Kit inspection.

Wednesday 29th  May 1918.

Left Petit Serviens 9-30, arrived Lealvillers 4-30 by lorry.

Sunday 2nd June 1918.

Paid out (30 F).  On fatigues all afternoon.

Monday 3rd June 1918.

Went up line 8o/c got back 6am after an eventful night.

Tuesday 4th  June 1918.

Went up line 8o/c,  got back 2-30am.

Friday 7th  June 1918.

Went up line 8o/c.  Sent home watch.

Saturday 8th  June 1918.

Fired gas 3am.

Wednesday 12th  June 1918.

Went up line 8o/c.

Thursday 13th  June 1918.

Got back from line 3am.

Sunday 16th  June 1918.

Paid out (20 F).

Tuesday 18th  June 1918.

Went up line 7o/c, got back 2-30am.

Wednesday 19th  June 1918.

Went up line 8o/c.

Thursday 20th  June 1918.

Fired gas in Hornet Trench, 2am, with artillery bombardment.

Saturday 22nd June 1918.

Went up line to bring guns out.

Thursday 27th  June 1918.

Company guard.

Monday 1st July 1918.

Paid out 20 Francs.

Tuesday 2nd  July 1918.

Went up line 7-30.

Wednesday 3rd July 1918.

Got back from line 7am.

Sunday 7th  July 1918.

On guard up line.

Monday 8th  July 1918.

Got back from line 9pm

Tuesday 9th  July 1918.

Went up line 8-30.

Wednesday 10th  July 1918.

Got back from line 4am.

Friday 12th  July 1918.

Went up line, got caught in a raid.

Saturday 13th  July 1918.

Fired gas 2am.

Wednesday 17th  July 1918.

Paid out, 35 Francs.

Thursday 18th  July 1918.

Kit inspection, indented for trousers and putties.

Saturday 20th  July 1918.

Left  Lealvillers and marched to  Terrameanil.

Wednesday 24th  July 1918.

Lylie’s day.

Monday 29th  July 1918.

Company guard.

Wednesday 31st July 1918.

Carried in base plates,   Hot job.

Thursday 1st August 1918.

Paid out 30 Francs.

Thursday 8th August 1918.

Went up line to carry out guns etc.

Friday 9th August 1918.

Shell fatigue at Louvencourt.

Monday 12th August 1918.

Went up line to carry in shells and guns.

Thursday 15th August 1918.

Paid out 20 Francs.

Friday 16th August 1918.


Tuesday 27th August 1918.

Left Seremesnel,  slept at Coigneux.

Wednesday 28th August 1918.

Arrived Hebuterne.

Thursday 30th August 1918.

Started making sleeper road from Hebuterne to Bucqony.  Paid out 20F.

Tuesday 3rd September 1918.

Started on second part of road nearer Bucquony.

Thursday 5th September 1918.

Billet orderly.

Friday 13th September 1918.

Paid out 20F.

Saturday 21st September 1918.

Coy. Left Hebuterne, I and 6 others left behind.

Monday 23rd  September 1918.

Left Hebuterne for Villers au Flos.  Went up line 6pm.

Tuesday 24th September 1918.

Got back from line at 3am, got no sleep for shelling.

Sunday 29th September 1918.

Kit inspection, indented for tunic.  Paid out 20F.

Monday 14th October  til  Wednesday 16th October 1918.

Working at Bapaums unloading stuff from dump.

Saturday 19th October 1918.

Left Villers au Flos, arrived and dumped in field outside Marcoing.

medals-cookSaturday 2nd November 1918.

Left Marcoing for Caudry.

Sunday 3rd  November 1918.

Went up line 12-30 noon.

Monday 4th November 1918.

Fired smoke on Le – Quesnay, got back 2-30pm. (This was to be the last gas attack of WW1)

Tuesday 5th November 1918.

Left Caudry for Marcoing.

Wednesday 6th November 1918.

Issued with  winter clothes.

Friday 8th November 1918.

Left Marcoing  went through Perrome.

Saturday 9th November 1918.

Roames camp.

Monday 11th November 1918.

Stayed in siding at St. Dazier.  (The day.)

Wednesday  12th November 1918.

Arrived at Pont-a-Mausson. (This was part of the American sector.)

Saturday 16th November 1918.

Had day out at Nancy.

Record of Medals for Arthur Henry Joseph Cook From National Archives Catalogue Reference :-  WO/372/4.

Record of Medals for Arthur Henry Joseph Cook From National Archives Catalogue Reference :- WO/372/4.

About the Author:

This Taunton WW1 borough wide project has been bought to the community by Creative Innovation Centre CIC, Taunton (also known as CICCIC). With support from Heritage Lottery Fund and many other partners we are proud to work with all in the community to produce this website and other project related activities.


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