Genealogists' Forum - We have branches everywhere!

Go Back   Genealogists' Forum - We have branches everywhere! > Research > Family History Stories

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-02-13, 14:26
AndyHoldcroft AndyHoldcroft is offline
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 32
Default Family transcript 9: "Great War Diary" pt 1

Excerpts from the Great War Diary 1915-1916 of my maternal Grandfather, Ernest Walter Cooke (1895-1949)
NB The Diary is written in soft pencil on poor quality paper in a French “Agenda” (diary)(hence the saints’ days for each entry), and some entries are, nearly a century later, somewhat challenging to decipher. Some were also in shorthand. I have excerpted the more interesting entries for posting. The notes were added by me. The first section represents a list inside the front cover and presumably is a list of presents received at Christmas 1914 during his service in the Royal Medical Corp . ( Army Number 33527)

Christmas Pres
Parcel Cake & Tin Gold Flake Percy Iddon
Black Cat Cig Box Uncle Tom1
Parcel Preserved fruit & Gold Flake Rev C St G Toole
Cake, mince pies Cigs etc
Pants, helmet, mitts, socks, Handkerchief, chocolates, peppermints, Flea powder, Vaseline, (indecipherable word) Powder Gold Flake, Oxo, Night Lights, cake & Triumph
Papers & 2 Books Home
1 Possibly (George) Thomas Edmands (1875-1938), younger brother of his mother Fanny Cooke (née Edmands) 1867 -1938).


12. MARDI Ste Césarine
Tozer, Daniels, Jeffrey, Allom, Lupiniere, Freeman, Venables, Johns, Baylis. S & Read set sail for France. W.N. Monck rejected for teeth.


5. VENDREDI S. Adrien
Went to Le Touquet by Motor Amb. With S M Tryman & QMS Springett2
2 Presumably “Sergeant Major” and “Quartermaster Sergeant”

13. SAMEDI Ste Euphrasie
Commencement of advancement near Ypres causing great stress of work over 300 admissions3.

3. In fact the action was a limited British Expeditionary Force offensive at Neuve-Chapelle in north-eastern France, some 20 odd miles south of Ypres. Ernest, a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC, ) was, as will become clearer in later entries, working at a base hospital near Boulogne to which troops able to be moved for treatment were evacuated. This “limited” offensive cost 11,500 British casualties over the four days it lasted.

Although Ernest does not mention precisely where he was based at this time, his reference to Captain Fairley (see November 9th 1915 note) and the entry for 1st March 1916 and the note in Appendix 3 suggest that he served with the said Captain at 11th General Hospital in Boulogne which occupied the Imperial Hotel.

16. MARDI Ste Octavie
L North called in on his way back from St Omer (?)
(next comment written in shorthand: “where he went to join a field ambulance”)
12 deaths.

17. MERCREDI S. Patrice
Saw French Destroyer Yatagan
Armed Liner Jehanne
H.S Valdovia

22. LUNDI Ste Léa
Lantern Lecture St Jons (sic) Ch Boulogne4
(next comment apparently written in shorthand “Life on rather placid low”)
4 St John the Evangelist was one of the Anglican churches in Boulogne sur Mer: no longer in existence.

29. LUNDI S. Eustase
Saw H.M.S. Cruiser “Venture”5
Lantern Lecture St Johns

5 Must refer to ‘HMS Adventure’ which was a British scout cruiser of this period.


2 VENDREDI Vendredi-Saint
Good Friday
Arrival of Lt Col J.H. Campbell

5. LUNDI Ste Irène
Departure of Col Starr to 7 Div A D M S6

6Assistant Director Medical Services

18 DIMANCHE S. Parfait
Capture of Hill 607
7Hill 60, located around three miles south-east of Ypres, is not a natural feature, but was made from the spoil removed during the construction of the railway line nearby. Its relative height above the flat landscape gave it great strategic value. It was re-taken by the Germans three weeks later using gas.

21. MERCREDI S. Anselme
Moved to New Hut.

25. DIMANCHE S. Marc
Canadian Attack
Second Battle of Ypres8

8The 1st Canadian Division in fact rather than attack as such, actually beat back a massive German attack (improvising gasmasks soaked in water or urine) in the battle which lasted from 22nd April to 25th May. The well known poem “In Flanders Fields” was written during the battle by a Canadian medical officer Lt Col John McCrea MD.

26. LUNDI S. Glet
Put in application for move to Clearing Hpl.9

9The application if successful, would have moved Ernest from the comparative safety of a base hospital to just behind the fighting front & as such much more vulnerable especially to artillery fire.


17. LUNDI S. Pascal
Arrival of Pte Iddon from 14 Genl11
Departure of Cpl Amies (Von Tup)
Am now Senior Clerk.

11Ie 14th General Hospital, based at Wimereux

18. MARDI S. Venant
Arrival of new draft including 4 new clerks.
Pte Miller
“ McElliott
“ Malyon
“ Verran
Pte McElliott went on night duty.

20. JEUDI S. Bernardin
Take up quarters in Clerks Barrack Room over Officers Mess.

28. VENDREDI S. Germain
Miller went on Night Duty.


4. Vendredi Ste Emma
Went on River12
Adm. 33

12The River Liane presumably, which flows through Boulogne-sur-Mer.

6. DIMANCHE S. Claude
King Albert’s arrival13
3 Admissions.

13King Albert I of Belgium (1875-1934 r1900-1934)

12. SAMEDI Ste Olympe
Arrival of Sgt Green from 16 Genl Le Trepot15

15ie 16th General Hospital at Le Tréport: passed over to US Army in 1917.

14. LUNDI S. Rufin
Departure of Sgt Webberley
Received wristlet watch from Home for 20th Birthday.16

16His actual birthday was 16th June: see entry below

15. MARDI S. Modeste
Verran’s Birthday.
Had rough house in Clerks Mess.
Had letters from home saying Mother17 was not well.
Number in Hpl 119

17Fanny Cooke (née Edmands) (1867-1938)

My 20th Birthday.

22. MARDI S. Alban
Gramophone in Office.

23. MERCREDI S. Jacob
Sgt Barron got mentioned in Despatches.

28. LUNDI S. Irénée
Departure of Younger (steam?)& Nobby Clark to 4. Divn.


1 JEUDI S. Thibaut
Bathe 6.0
Just begun to float

2. VENDREDI Visit. De N.-Dame
Sea bathe 6.0 am bon
Sea bathe 3.0 pm tres bon
Saw hydroplane
Was paid 10 francs18
S.H. 19 for Tea with Pte Iddon
Just swimming.

18At this date 10 francs was worth very roughly 7/6 or 37 ½ p. Its purchasing power in 2012 is very approximately £16.20
19Soldiers Home (see below Sunday 4th)

4. DIMANCHE Ste Berthe
Swim @ 6.0 am & 2.30 pm tres bon
Iddon ill. Soldiers Home for tea. Weather hot about 100o shade. Saw a fight between German sub & French Patrol Boat. Sub sunk.

6. MARDI Ste Colombe
Swim 6.0 am
Rough sea
Soldiers Home 4.0 pm avec Iddon

Swim 6.0 am
Very Rough Sea
Lt Woolfenden made Captain.
Pte Stewart 21 to-day.

8. JEUDI Ste Virginie
First day of isolation
No patients admitted or discharged.
Too rough for swim.
S.H. etc
Col Campbell S.F. Harrold & Bartley go on leave. Lt Ferguson appointed San. Officer.

9. VENDREDI S. Cyrille
Still isolated. No patients admitted or discharged.
Swim at 6.0 am
Inoculated (Full dose)
Parade 9.0 am
130 in Hospital.

10. SAMEDI Ste Félicité
Sick with inoculation.
Off duty from dinner time.
Went to S.H. @ 7.0 pm
Parade at 12.15

11. DIMANCHE S. Norbert
Still a bit seedy
Parade at 9.0 am
Still isolated

14. MERCREDI Fête Nationale
Bathe 6.0 am & 1.0 pm
Route March 3.0 pm (Raining)

15. JEUDI S. Henri
No Bathe
Parade 9.0 am
Started taking Nephritis cases only
Still isolated
Harrold returns
S.H. @ 6.0 pm
Oxo(?) Malyon & McEllyott inoculated

16. VENDREDI S. Simon
No Bathe
9.0 am Parade
Paid 10 francs.
Good tea at S.H. with Iddon @ 3.0 pm (Raining)
Still isolated
Return of Col Campbell from 7 days leave
Lincolns20 passed through.

20Presumably a Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment

17. SAMEDI S. Alexis
Parade 12.15 pm (raining)
Som L I21passed through

21Presumably a Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry(Prince Albert’s). These & the Lincolns were possibly moving into position for the Battle of Loos which was launched about 8/9 weeks later and in which both earned battle honours.

19. LUNDI S. Vincent de Paul
6.0 am Bathe
9.0 Parade
Worcesters23 passed through
S.H. @ 7.0 pm

23See note above: the Worcestershire Regiment also gained Loos battle honours.

20. MARDI Ste Marguerite
6.0 am Swim
9.0 Parade
Canadians passed through also Wilts24
S.H. @ 3.0 pm
Iddon wrote Thompson.

24The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh’s) again had Loos battle honours. However the Canadians were more likely to be on their way into the Ypres sector at this point as they were not involved at Loos.

22. JEUDI Ste Madeleine
Bathe 6.0 am
Saw British Destroyer “F” Type
Discharged first lot of patients
S.H. 3.0 pm
Canteen & Waterbottle Parade 9.0 am

23. VENDREDI S. Apollinaire
Bathe 6.0 am
S.H. 7.0 pm (shorthand phrase)
Sgt Barron went on leave
Parade 9.0 am

24. SAMEDI Ste Christine
Waterproof sheet parade 12.15 pm

25. DIMANCHE S. Christophe
7.0 am duty
British Aeroplane passed over.
No 9.0 am Parade

27. MARDI Ste Nathalie
No swim
S.H. 7.0 pm & Stewart & Iddon
Weighed 10 stone 2 lbs

28. MERCREDI S. Samson
No Swim
Fire Practice @ 11.30 am
Carrying patient etc
Pte Bailey ad (shorthand phrase follows “carrying crabs” (?)) etc

Saw Wainwright (shorthand phrase follows “going on leave”)
29. JEUDI Ste Marthe
No Swim
General Inspection by Major General Sawyer DDMS25 Boulogne @ 10.45 am
French Military Band (shorthand phrase follows) @ 3.0 pm
Oxo ad to Hospital

25Deputy Director Medical Services

30. VENDREDI Ste Juliette
Swim 6.0 am
No scrubbing out
Swim 12.0 noon
S.H. 3.0 pm Paid 10f.
Sgt Barron returned from leave 12.0 m/n
Height 6.0 feet
Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-13, 15:02
AndyHoldcroft AndyHoldcroft is offline
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 32

Have posted a picture of Ernest Cooke in 1915
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Grandad C c1915.jpg (6.1 KB, 1 views)
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 04:25.

Hosted by Photon IT

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7 PL3
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.