Date of birth: 1897
Date of death: 7.6.1917
Regiment: Yorkshire (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own)
Family information: Husband of Annie Cookson nee Tomlinson
Service number: 41993
Due to the absence of his service record, it is not known when Richard Cookson joined the army. However, he was initially posted to the Royal Field Artillery and allocated the service number 174584. Sometime afterwards he was drafted to the 8th Battalion, Alexandra Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment), the Green Howards.
The 8th Battalion, was formed in October 1914, part of Kitchener’s Army and attached to 69th Brigade, 23rd Division. The 8th Green Howards sailed for France on 26th August 1915, landing at Boulogne.
For several months, the battalion was deployed to front line duties south of Armentieres. During the Battle of the Somme, in 1916, the 8th Battalion was involved in all phases of the battle, with assaults on the German lines at Contalmaison and at Munster Alley.
The 23rd Division had moved north, to the Ypres area, in October 1916 and at the beginning of June 1917 was preparing for the forthcoming battle at Messines. At 03.10 hrs, on 7th June 1917, nineteen huge mines were detonated under the German front line along the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge. These explosions signalled the commencement of the infantry assault on the enemy lines.
The 8th Green Howards moved up towards the front line during the night of the 5th/6th June and, after having a reasonably quiet day, had moved into their assembly trenches by 02.30 hrs on the 7th June. At 03.00 hrs, the battalion climbed out of their trenches and lay down in front of them, to await the detonation of the two mines near Hill 60. These two explosions signalled the start of the infantry advance. Although the advance was difficult due to the darkness, the battalion’s objectives were soon seized and were consolidated during the day. Most of the 8th Green Howards was relieved during the night of 10th/11th June and moved to the copses near Zillebeke. Although there was only slight resistance from the enemy infantry, the enemy artillery had been active. The result was that the battalion incurred over 250 casualties during the attack, one of whom was Private Richard Cookson.
Private Richard Cookson was reported to have died from his wounds, however, his body was lost to the battlefield and he has no known grave. Consequently his name is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, at Ypres. This Memorial commemorates the names of more than 54000 officers and men, who died on the Ypres Salient, and whose graves are unknown.
Born in 1897, Richard Cookson was the eldest son of Richard and Lizzie Cookson, of Hardicroft, Wakefield. He was baptised on the 7th April 1897, at Holy Trinity Church, Wakefield. Richard and Lizzie had further children, William and Kathleen and for a time lived at Poplar Terrace, Sandal. His father, Richard Cookson Snr. was a master baker. At the time of the 1911 census, the family was living at 149 Kirkgate, Wakefield, with Richard Cookson Jnr, being employed as a baker’s apprentice.
During the summer of 1916, Richard Cookson Jnr. married Annie Tomlinson, the daughter of Herbert and Maria Tomlinson of Roker Terrace, Outwood. Their son, Ronald Cookson was born in late 1917, after the death of his father, Private Richard Cookson