3055, Private, 8th Battalion, Australian Infantry Force
Gazetted 9 September 1916
For most conspicuous bravery. After a Lewis gun had been disabled, he was ordered to take his gun and gun-team to a dangerous part of the line. Here he did fine work, but came under very heavy fire, with the result that finally he was the only man left. He still stuck to his post, and continued to fire his gun. When assistance was sent he was found dead beside his gun. He set a splendid example of determination and devotion to duty.
British War Medal
Born 5 July 1881 Kaikoura, New Zealand
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.