Cooke, David Greer (No. 159661)

Cooke, David Greer (David)

Private

No. 159661, 4th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles

Killed in action on Wednesday 16 August 1916 (aged 28)

Buried:

Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Belgium (Grave VI. K. 18)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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)

Brother of Private Collins Alexander Cooke (No. 158053)

BIOGRAPHY

David Greer Cooke was born on 28 December 1887 in The Barracks, Ballela, Banbridge, Co. Down 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)

Around 1904 David Cooke moved to the United States of America where he worked as a machinist before the outbreak of the Great War.  He took out his naturalisation papers and became an American citizen.  David was one of at least four Cooke brothers who moved to the United States of America, the others being William, Collins and John.  For a time, Collins and David Cooke lived with their aunt, Miss Sarah J. Greer, at 5629 Stokes Street, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

David Cooke was unmarried when he enlisted in Toronto on 7 January 1916 and in his attestation papers it was noted that he was 5 feet 7 inches tall with a reddish complexion, grey eyes and red hair.  He cited his brother John as his next-of-kin and he lived at 64 Grange Avenue, Toronto.

David Greer Cooke joined the Canadian Mounted Rifles and on 28 April 1916 he set sail from Halifax to England aboard the SS Olympic.  His brother Collins was in England at the same time and the brothers asked for home leave to visit their parents in Newtownards.  David hadn’t seen them for seven years.  The urgent need for more soldiers to fight at the Front meant that their request was denied and they were compelled to sail for France without visiting their parents.

When Private David Cooke completed his first period of trench warfare and was back in rest camp he wrote a letter to his brother William who lived at 321 Wister Street, Germantown, Philadelphia.  David was dead by the time the letter was delivered.  On the first day of his second period of duty in the trenches David was struck down by a shell and died of shrapnel wounds to his left lung.  Collins Cooke saw his brother fall and he was a member of the burial party.  One month later Collins Cooke was also killed in action.

When Private David Greer 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 in Newtownards of which David had been a member.  David’s brother William wrote a letter of tribute to Messrs Henry Brothers Newtownards Chronicle.  The letter stated that David had been a member of the Masonic Fraternity and also the Stonemen’s Fellowship in America.  The founder of this Order, the Rev. H.C. Stone paid glowing tribute to David Cooke in a speech delivered in the Grand Opera House of Philadelphia to an audience of more than 5,000 people.

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).