Walter Cooke, a labourer at a gas works, and Nancy Elliott had married in 1898 in a civil ceremony registered at Ashton under Lyne. Three years later, when the census was taken, they and their one year old son, Harold, were living at 5 Old Road, Dukinfield. Nothing else is known of Harold's early life except, that by the time of the Great War, the family had moved to Marple and was living at 18 Hollins Terrace. Harold will have conscripted into the army when he became 18. He joined at Chester and was originally assigned to the East Surrey Regiment.
After training and on arrival in France, he was transferred to the 23rd Battalion of the London Regiment. The Regiment had two battalions with a similar designation - the 1/23rd and the 2/23rd. The records of the War Graves Commission show him to have been attached to the 2/23rd but research suggests this is an error probably dating back to the immediate post-War period. On the day he was killed, the 2/23rd was fighting near Wulverghem - not far from the border between Belgium and France. The 1/23rd, however, was fighting much further south, in the Somme area where his name is commemorated on the Artois Memorial to the Missing.
The end of August saw a period of almost constant advance for the British forces. The Londons had been in action on 1 September suffering two officers killed and 13 other men wounded. The advance resumed next day, with Harold and his mates in support of the leading units. It was generally successful although Harold was amongst 7 men killed. Another 29 had been wounded.
Some further information about Harold, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.