Walter COOKE
Rank: Private
Number: 46173
Unit: 8th Battalion ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 25 January 1917
Age: 32
Cemetery: Basra Memorial, Iraq

Walter was the son of Thomas and Harriett and may have been their only child - no other is mentioned on the family's entry on the 1910 Census. He worked as railway porter. In 1910, Walter married his fiancée, Florence Kate Jennings, at St Mary's Church, Stockport. They set up home at 43 Grimshaw Street and would have a child together.

Walter's service number suggests he enlisted into the army in 1916 and can only have been at the front for a short while before he was killed.  The last draft of replacements joined the Battalion in November 1916, so it is probable Walter was with them. This month was spent at Amara, undertaking various training exercises. Amara is now a town of some 200, 000 people in south eastern Iraq. During the war, it was a major hospital and rest area for the troops fighting in Mesopotamia

On 28 November, they left camp and moved towards the front line near Sinn Abtar and Bassouia. On 20 December, there was an attempt to cross the River Tigris, but this seems to have been half-hearted as minimal Turkish sniper fire seems to have deterred the whole Division and orders for a withdrawal were given. Christmas Day was spent in the front line. It was reported that there was intermittent enemy artillery which did no real damage. During the night, a patrol was sent forward some 2000 yards but there was no sign of the enemy positions. On 30 December, 40th Brigade was withdrawn from the front line and returned to reserve camp at Bassouia.

The War Diary records that the first week of 1917 was spent in "straightening out" the Battalion after it had been constantly on the move for over a month. Fatigue parties worked daily cutting brushwood to make a road. On 12 January, the period of "rest" was over and the Fusiliers were ordered back into the front line to prepare for an attack on the Turkish positions. On arrival, they found that there was no real trench network and digging started immediately. At this point, the Turks were only 350 yards away, across flat ground with very little cover. They were able to continually snipe at the British troops. But, by 24 January, the work was complete and a proper front line, 1200 yards wide, had been prepared, together with communication trenches to the rear area. A total of 5 miles of trench had been dug and 8 men had been killed

The attack took place next morning, with the Fusiliers assaulting a 500 yard wide section of the enemy trench. The attack was success, although there were a number of casualties during the charge across No Man's Land. As soon as the position had been taken, Captain Farrar (the officer in charge of the attack) reorganised the troops and pushed forward some soldiers, whilst others consolidated the gains. Whilst the consolidation was underway, the other men had captured the Turkish second line of trenches. By dusk, consolidation was complete and preparations were in hand for a further advance the next day. By that time, Walter and 26 other men had been killed. Amongst the 26 were two other local men, William Jones and Stephen Isherwood. Joseph Holland had been badly wounded and died later the same day.

   
           
   
     
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