Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Edmund David Cook


Edmund David Cook is my first cousin twice removed. His father Joseph was the younger brother of my great grandfather John.

Edmund was born on 10 April 1893 at Pontllanfraith in Monmouthshire. His parents were Joseph and Lydia Cook. Joseph and Lydia had married at the end of 1891 in Pontllanfraith. Edmund was the eldest of their eleven children, of whom eight have been identified so far. The next baby to survive was Frederick born in 1899.

When the 1901 census was taken, the family were living at Railway Terrace, Tredegar Junction, Pontllanfraith. Joseph was a coal miner as were his father and brothers. A week or two after the census night, the family welcomed Elvert Leslie (always known as Leslie) then a baby girl Brenda Augusta just over a year later. She was followed by Cyril Kenneth in 1905, Rachel Muriel in 1906, Jack Byron in 1907 and finally Desmond Ellion at the end of 1911.

In 1911, the family were living at 6 Station Road Pontllanfraith, which may well have been the same house as ten years previously, as the road was renamed. Also living with Joseph and Lydia in 1911 were Lydia’s sister Rachel and brother David. In 1912, Joseph and Rachel had a son Joseph Augustus.

Edmund’s memorial gives his battalion as the 2nd which means he was a regular soldier in the South Wales Borderers before World War 1. I have no record of the date he joined but if he was already serving in 1914, he would have been on the other side of the world when war was declared. In August 1914, the 2nd battalion were stationed at Tientsin in northern China and at the end of September were sent to Shandong to fight with the Japanese against German positions at Tsingtao. On December 4th they left China to return to England. In January they went to Rugby and joined the 87th Brigade of the 29th Division leaving for Gallipoli via Egypt in April. Assuming Edmund was with them, he would have been part of the battles in Gallipoli and evacuated with everyone else in January 1916. They went to Egypt and from there orders were received in February to embark for France where the division arrived in Marseilles on March 15th.

On April 3rd, they went into the trenches in the front line. The trench which they were allocated, known as The Mary Redan, had been badly damaged by previous bombardment. The following days were recorded in detail in the war diary;

“The 4th and 5th April were without incident but on 6th April at about 9.0 pm, a very heavy bombardment was opened by the enemy. This bombardment was concentrated on the right half of ‘C’ Company commanded by Capt F.S. Blake, on communication trenches leading up to it and on the portion of trench further north from which the front of ‘C’ Company’s trench could be enfilladed. The bombardment lasted until 10.30 pm when it ceased as suddenly as it had begun. It is not an exaggeration to say that the bursting of shells was so frequent that the communication trench from Bn H.Q towards the front line was lit up continuously. The trench held by the right half of ‘C’ Company was demolished…” He goes on to say that the force of bombs on either side of the trench closed it completely and men were crushed between the walls. In that hour and a half, 5 officers and 78 other ranks were killed. One of these was Edmund Cook. He, with his fellow soldiers, had only been in the front line for three days and they are buried together at Mesnil Ridge Cemetery. In the row containing Edmund’s grave are six others from the same regiment with nine more in the row behind, all killed on the same day. In all twenty seven men from the South Wales Borderers are buried here.

Back home, Edmund’s family grew with the birth of another son to his father Joseph and aunt Rachel in 1919. He was named Edmund David. Lydia died in 1938 and Joseph married Rachel in 1942. This meant that he had children by his wife and his sister-in-law and his eldest and youngest children were both called Edmund David.

24970, 2nd Bn., South Wales Borderers
who died age 23 on 06 April 1916
Son of Joseph and Lydia Cook, of 24, Newbridge Rd, Pontllanfraith, Newport, Mon.
Remembered with honour

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission for the day to day commentary.
The Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh at Brecon.
My brother, Bob Price (pictured above) for photos of Edmund's Grave taken on his visit to France and Belgium in 2014.


  1. Edmund is my great uncle, my grandfather was Jack Cook, Edmunds younger brother. The family are going over in June to pay respects. Two of us are ex armed forces so going suitably attired.

    1. That is lovely to hear. I am descended from Jack's uncle John Cook so we are distantly related somehow. I do not have much information about Jack's family, expect that he had a daughter called Anne.

    2. He most certainly did, I'm sat opposite her as I type. Ann was Jack's only child and is my mother.

    3. Which means your grandparents were my (Great) Aunty May and Uncle Jack? I'm Ted & Mary's Granddaughter, Rhia and I lovingly remember Uncle Jack's green houses and Victoria plums in the garden and Aunty May teaching me Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the electric organ in the lounge. Would the house I remember them living in on Newbridge Rd be the one that Joseph, Rachel & Lydia lived in?
      Do you remember / know of "Gramma Cook"? She would have been my father (Lyndon's) Grandmother and I pesume that means she was actually Rachel?

    4. Hi, yes, Gramma Cook was Rachel and yes, the house that May and Jack lived in was originally Jospeh and Lydia's home. We were over to Mesnil Ridge Cemetery again in August of this year to take my children to see Edmund's Grave and lay a wreath

    5. Hi Rhia,
      When did you play the organ in the lounge? What sort of year? I used to play that fact if the time fits, my mum and dad bought that for her

  2. Hi
    I've posted a blog post at about the same event at Mary Redan where my Grand uncle Paddy Maher was also killed. I hope you don't mind but I lost the War Diary notes I'd taken of the night and found your blog post and copied out the excerpt. If you'd like me to remove it please revert to me at declan (at) I've put a link up to this post and credited your blog in my post.


    Declan Moore

  3. I was so pleased and surprised to discover this page, as my father was Cyril Kenneth Cook. The only information I'd had previously about my Uncle Edmund David Cook, was from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
    I am also grateful to see details of the Cook family, although I had always thought that my Grandfather Joseph Cook only had children with his first wife Lydia.
    If any of my relatives would like to get in touch with me, I would love to hear from them, my E-mail address is:-

    All the best
    Kenneth James Cook - born 1941

    1. Hi Kenneth,

      You would be direct cousin to my paternal grandmother and her sister Hilda and Marie!

      Do you ever remember meeting them?


  4. I should perhaps also have mentioned, that my Great Uncle, David John Waters, was also with the 1st Bn South Wales Borders, a Private, Service number 13075.
    Sadly Uncle David died on the 26 September 1915, aged 25 and is "remembered with honour" at the Loos Memorial. I have a photo of Uncle David wearing his uniform, if anyone is interested.

    Ken Cook

    1. Hi Ken, I would love to see that pic. I can find no photos of Edmund anywhere. If anyone wishes to see it, I have a tree gang on imaginatively called "Jeremy thomas family tree"

  5. It's me again.

    I have set out below the various inscription on the gravestone in Mynyddyslwyn Churchyard, Pontllanfraith, which may be of interest.


    Ken Cook

    Beloved son of
    Pontllanfraith who fell in action
    in France April 6 1916 Aged 23 yrs
    Worthy of Remembrance
    Also DESMOND ELLION their
    son Died Jan 6 1931 Aged 19 years
    Sometime we'll understand
    Also of their 8 children died in infancy
    Also LYDIA COOK above named
    Died July 12 1938 Aged 66 yrs
    Peace perfect Peace
    Also above named JOSEPH COOK
    Died Feb 24 1955 Aged 86 yrs

    1. I've read this and visited the older part of MynyddIslwyn cemetery many times with my Gramma (Mary) when I was young. She was my Grampa (Ted / Edmund David II)'s wife ang they are both now reunited in the newer part of the cemetery across the road.
      I'd love to hear from more generational Cooks! I live in Australia now and since losing Gramma, I'm really keen to make sure I don't forget the stories she's told me over the years.

    2. It seems it seems that various members of the family referred to a "gramma" cook with possibly different identities!

  6. Hi everyone. Quite a gathering of the Cook clan here.
    I don't know if any of you remember Edna Bryant who lived in Newbridge Road. She was the younger daughter of Margaret (Cook) and Alfred Thomas Price. She passed away last weekend aged 97. So I heading back to Pont the week after next for her funeral. It will be good to be back, even for a sad occasion.

  7. Hi all! Another Edmund / Joseph / Lydia Cook relative here!
    My name is Sarah Williams and my paternal grandmother, Hilda (Leslie)Jukes nee Cook (Edmund's niece) still lives in the area that the Cook family did over a century ago!

    Edmund is my 2nd great uncle, with his younger brother Leslie Cook being my Great Grandfather. When Joseph married Rachel after the death of his mother Lydia, Leslie became estranged from the family and very rarely spoke about them until his later years. It's great to hear from other family linages though.

    And I have access to a picture of Edmund Cook if anyone would like to see it. I also have an family tree which has quiet a detailed line for the Cook name.

  8. Also as a an addition to the information you have about Edmund, I have found through my research that he disembarked from the UK for the war in Oct 1915, although I don't have a registration date for his service.
    I also have copies of the financial return received by Lydia and the family in the years after his death, from the Army, totalling approx. £14 over a few years.

  9. Hi Sarah. What a lot of Cooks this story is finding! I am in the process of moving house but once we are settled I hope to revisit all the family WW1 stories and tidy them up a bit so will be in touch again then if that is ok. I am related to Edmund as a 1st cousin, twice removed. His older brother John was my great grandfather and John and Ann's daughter Margaret was my grandmother. Margaret and her daughters lived in Pont all their lives but my father moved away and so I have never lived there although we were frequent visitors. On my tree I have four children for Leslie (Elvert Leslie?); Brenda, Joseph, John and Marie but I have not explored those lines further down yet. I presume you are descended from one of the four. From listening to family stories, mostly from my aunt Margaret (dad's sister) Joseph's marriage and indeed his whole life was a bit controversial. Aunt Margaret always referred to him as "wicked Uncle Joe". By chance, or maybe karma, my brother's youngest daughter is named Lydia. He did not know about the extended family at the time and was astonished when I told him. Good to hear from you and hopefully we can be in touch again