Frederick Thomas Cooker

First World War victim

Frederick was a cousin (strictly a half cousin) of my grandfather,  Reg Ware. He was the son of Walter Cooker and his wife, Mary Susan Ware. Mary Susan was, in her turn, the daughter of John Ware and his first wife, Mary Susan Ward. Mary Ware didn’t know her mother for she died the year that Mary was born. John Ware died in the 1884 train crash at Sevenoaks, so Frederick Cooker never knew his Ware grandparents at all.

Walter Cooker, a resident of Maidstone, married Mary Susan Ware (who may have been known as Susan) in 1889. By the time Frederick arrived, there were already two older brothers and two more brothers and four sisters followed. Walter Cooker lived all his life in Maidstone and worked as a cocoa fibre matting weaver. In 1901 the family, including Frederick, lived at Tassell Row, London Road East in Maidstone.

To give something of the family character, I include a newspaper report on Walter, when he died.

from the Kent Messenger

OLD RESIDENT PASSES. Employed by Messrs. James Clifford and Son Ltd., of Maidstone for more than 59 years Mr. Walter Cooker, of 69, Melville Road, Maidstone, was buried at Maidstone Cemetery on Monday. Aged 86. he died at his home the previous Thursday. Mr. Cooker had lived in the town all his life. He was a member of the Maidstone Old Folk’s Club, and was a keen amateur gardener. Three sons and four daughters are bereaved. The service at St. Philip’s Church was conducted by the Rev. W.J. Wright, Vicar, and mourners were Mr. And Mrs. G. Cooker, Mr. And Mrs. J.Cooker, Mr. and Mrs. A. Cooker (sons and daughters-in law), Miss R. Cooker, Miss A. Cooker, Mr. And Mrs. A, Brown, Mr. And Mrs. F. Dadson (sons-in-law and daughters), and Mr. W. Clifford and Mr E. Clifford of Messrs. James Clifford and Son, Ltd. Funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. J.T. Pickard, of 88, Lower Stone Street, Maidstone. The sons and daughters of the late Mr. Walter Cooker wish to thank relatives and friends for sympathy and flowers sent in their bereavement.

This was 1953, long after the death of Frederick, but seems to portray a solid, ordinary sort of family. Mary, Frederick’s mother, does not get a mention so presumably she had died earlier. This report also carried a photo of Walter.

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But back to Frederick. Frederick joined the local West Kent Regiment and in 1916 he was on The Somme. He was obviously a capable young man for he had become a sergeant in the 6th battalion. No doubt they were part of the Somme offensive in the summer and autumn of that year – summarised below.

On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter.

For Frederick, the end came on October 7th. At that time his parents lived at 69, Melville Road, Maidstone. I presume that Frederick’s body was never recovered for he is commemorated on the huge Thiepval Monument (Pier and Face 11 C.)

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The memorial and a school party laying a wreath.

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5 Responses to “Frederick Thomas Cooker”

  1. Geoffrey Cooker Says:

    Frederick Thomas Cooker is my great uncle. I know that he was awarded the DCM for heroic actions he took during the war. I have been trying to find information on what he did to deserve such a high honor.

    My grandfather, John William Cooker, also had an interesting experience during the great war as he was captured in early 1918 and was a POW until the end of the war.

    I am interested in ANY information you have about my ancestors. I would also be willing to share any information I have that may interest you.

  2. Lynda Dadson Says:

    My husband is Andrew John Dadson. His mother was Doris Ada Dadson, her mother was Mary Susan Ware and Frederick Thomas Cooker was Doris’s brother. Lynda

    • locksands Says:

      Hi Linda

      I’ll contact you by email. Give me a day or two!

    • Cara Waterer Says:

      Hi Lynda,
      Doris Ada Dadson was my maternal Great Grandmother, Your husband Andrew is my Nans brother (Alma). My Mum (Dawn) and I are trying to piece the Cooker/Dadson side of the family together. Thanks to Tom Cooker emailing the family tree over a few years ago, we have that part. Would love to get in touch and compare information etc.
      Kind regards,
      Cara

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