COOKE, Thomas
3055, Private, 8th Battalion, Australian Infantry Force

Victoria Cross
"On 24 and 25 July 1916 at Pozières, France, after a Lewis gun had been disabled, Private Cooke was ordered to take his gun to a dangerous part of the line. He did fine work, but came under very heavy fire, and finally he was the only man left. He still stuck to his post and continued to fire, but when assistance finally arrived he was found dead beside his gun."

Born 5 July 1881 Kaikoura, NZ
Died 28 July 1916 France, aged 35 years
Buried Villers-Bretonneaux Cemetery, France

Thomas COOKE was born in Kaikoura, New Zealand in 1881.  He was educated at kaikoura Demonstration High School and later moved to Wellington.  He married Maude Elizabeth in 1902 and in 1912, with his wife and three children he moved to Melbourne, Australia.  For the next three years he worked as a builder in the suburb of Richmond.  He had a love of music and played a good first cornet in a local brass band.

When war broke out in 1914 at the age of 33 years and he joined the Australian Imperial Force in early 1915 as a reinforcement to the 24th Battalion.  He rose to the rank of Corporal in this battalion but on his transfer to the 8th Battalion in 1916, he gave up his stripes

COOKE was a machine-gunner during the battles of the Somme in 1916.  During these battles, the village of Pozieres was fought over for most of the month of July.  On 25 July, the 8th Battalion was ordered to take the village.  COOKE’s citation for the Victoria Cross tells the story of his part in the attack.  Private Tom COOKE fought to the death after firing his last round of ammunition, and was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross ‘For most conspicuous bravery.