Ninety-six years ago, Eddie Cook is dying of a gun shot wound to the abdomen. In the morning he will be found to be dead on admission at Mendinghem Casualty Clearing Station.
Second Lieutenant R.E. Cook had joined the 11th
Suffolk’s Battalion just
in time to endure the Kaiser’s battle in March 1918. Having been fortunate
enough to survive he and the remnants of his battalion were moved to the Armentieres sector little
suspecting that this would be where the next German hammer blow would fall on 9th
The Suffolks were sent out into a cornfield and told to dig in and keep the enemy at bay to the last man. Somehow some of the battalion escaped and various war maps and diaries show the 11th Suffolks withdrawing over the Armentieres-Bailleul railway line on the 10/11th April.
On the 11th of April Haig issued his famous “Backs to the Wall” proclamation. The 11th Suffolks war diary says that the battalion was not involved in any major fighting on that day but did set up outposts and sent out patrols. My best guess of what actually happened to Eddie Cook is that he was shot whilst leading a patrol to reconnoitre.
Tomorrow my family and I will be thinking of him. We remember.