Cooke, Collins Alexander (Collins)
No. 158053, 4th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles
Killed in action on Saturday 16 September 1916 (aged 30)
Serre Road Cemetery No. 1, France (Grave IX. A. 19)
Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)
Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)
Collins Alexander Cooke was born on 22 January 1886 (in his attestation papers he declared 22 January 1887) and he was a son of Robert and Mary Anne Cooke (nee Greer) who were married on 29 October 1880 in Coalisland Parish Church of Ireland Church, Co. Tyrone. Robert Cooke, a Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) from Coalisland was a son of William Cooke, a merchant. Mary Anne Greer from Coalisland was a daughter of Robert Greer, a farmer.
Robert Cooke was a Sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary when he was stationed in Newtownards and the Cooke family lived at 11 Court Street.
Robert Cooke, who was born in Co Armagh, and Mary Anne Cooke (nee Greer), who was born in Co Tyrone, had twelve children:
William Robert (born 26 November 1881 in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone)
Anna Bella (born 4 June 1883 in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone)
Frances A B (born around 1884 in Co. Tyrone)
Collins Alexander (born 22 January 1886 in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone)
David Greer (born 28 December 1887 in The Barracks, Ballela, Banbridge, Co. Down)
Sarah Jane Greer (born 17 February 1889 in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone)
John Orme (born 16 March 1890 in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone; served in the Great War and survived)
Margaret Eliza Lindsay (born 12 May 1891 in Clough, Co. Down)
Male child, name not captured (born 9 May 1892 in Clough, Co. Down)
Mary Kathleen (born 10 September 1893 in Clough, Co. Down)
Madeline Maud Winifred (born 13 January 1897 in Court Street, Newtownards)
Alfred Rowan (born 15 September 1898 in Court Street, Newtownards)
Collins Alexander Cooke was a keen sportsman and an active member of both the Ards Lacrosse Hockey Team and the Ards Football Club. Collins was one of at least four Cooke brothers who moved to the United States of America, the others being William, David and John. For a time, Collins and David Cooke lived with their aunt, Miss Sarah J. Greer, at 5629 Stokes Street, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Collins Cooke was unmarried and before the outbreak of the Great War he worked as a supervisor in a jute mill. He travelled to Canada on Labour Day 1915 and he enlisted in Toronto on 9 September 1915. He cited his mother as his next-of-kin and she lived at 11 Court Street, Newtownards. In his attestation papers it was noted that he was 5 feet 7¼ inches tall with a fresh complexion, brown eyes and brown hair. He had a birth mark at the end of his spine. He joined the 4th Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles – the same Battalion that his brother John had joined earlier that year.
For several months after his enlistment Collins Cooke travelled throughout Canada with a recruitment officer giving exhibition drills. Since boyhood each of the Cooke brothers had been trained by their father in the use of firearms. Collins Cooke died on 16 September 1916 just one month after his brother David was killed in action.
After Private Collins Alexander Cooke died, his father placed a For King and Country notice in the Newtownards Chronicle. So too did Lord Londonderry’s Own CLB Flute Band Newtownards of which he had been a member.
In August 1917 Robert Cooke placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the Newtownards Chronicle in proud and loving memory of his two sons David and Collins Cooke. It contained the tribute:
They loved honour and duty more than they feared death.
Both Private David Cooke and Private Collins Cooke are commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM); in the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Mark’s).