WW1 Personal War Diaries 1914-16 of Private 16861 Sam Cooke 1st
COOKE, Sam (Private 16861): Personal Diaries 1914-1916 (3 Volumes) 2nd Battalion - The York and Lancaster Regiment [The Battle of Armentieres; The Somme Campaign]
All three diaries have many condition issues in the main by being kept in Private Cooke’s pocket and among his personal affects during the three years he spent in active service. Quite a few of the pages have been rained on and in places the pen is smudged. The private has written only a few words each day and this is sporadic. So there is not a detailed narrative at any point. That said there are days during heavy fighting where he has committed to writing a bit more. More photos can be provided on request.
These are the personal diaries of Private 16861 Sam Cooke of the 2nd battalion of The York and Lancaster Regiment. He was a serving soldier when war broke and was stationed in Limerick. He arrived on the western front in September 1914 and was first engaged in battle shortly after, being involved in the battle of Armentieres (also called the ‘Race to the sea’) only a month later. He mentions Radinghem, a village the battalion (along with another) arrived in only for them to come under heavy machine gun fire. He describes being ‘shelled out’ by the opposing forces, as he and his fellow soldiers dig in a temporary trench. The fighting lasts for 11 days with the British holding the line throughout.
In his 1915 diary, later on in the year, Private Cooke mentions Hooge and heavy fighting. This is when the Battalion restore the line after heavy attacks from the German forces. The Battalion are awarded the battle honour Hooge for their work in keeping the line at this point.
In his 1916 Diary, Cooke again mentions fighting and his feelings towards this around the later battles of the Somme Campaign. The Battalion were involved in one of the first battles. They were then involved in some of the objectives of The Battle of Morval in September 1916, again part of the Somme Campaign.
For the most part Private Cooke is brief and to the point with his thoughts but even so these scarce surviving documents describe at first hand his feelings within the 2nd battalion during some of the key moments of the war as he helped his battalion keep the line in Hooge, survive The Battle of Armentieres and then also key battles within the Somme Campaign. Scarce to have original diaries from a private on the western front.