48173 Private Alfred  (Alf)  William Cook   – New Zealand Medical Corp

Alfred William Cook was born in Masterton on 9th November 1899 the youngest of three and only son of
Louisa (nee Judge) and William Cook[i].

The family move to the Wellington Region and Tawa Flat prior to 1910, his mother Mrs Cook, nurse is listed in Wises Directory from that year[ii]. It is possible that Mrs Cook worked at the Porirua Mental hospital.

In  April 1916 Alfred was involved in a ‘scuffle’ at the Porirua Mental Hospital.  There was a dispute between Hospital and Village ‘boys’ over girls who worked at the institute. Alfred William Cook is noted in the newspaper as a Post Office clerk, Wellington North[iii].

On 5th March 1917 Alfred enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary force, his enlistment papers list his date of birth
as 9th November 1896 making him the required 20 years old. Alfred is listed as a clerk working for the New Zealand Government living on Somes Island where he was a guard for the interned Foreign Aliens. Arthur lists his mother
Mrs L Cook, Tawa Flat as his next of kin[iv].

48173 Private Alfred William Cook, 26th Reinforcements was promoted to Lance Corporal Cook on the 16th March 1917 and then transferred to the 25th Reinforcements on the 18th April 1917 and following basic training on 26th April 1917
left New Zealand as part of F Company, 25th Reinforcements on HMNZTS 83 (Tofua). Lance Corporal Cook was admitted
to the ships hospital three times during the voyage to England.

Lance Corporal Cook arrived in England in July 1917 and as was standard practice reverted to Private Cook when he was ‘marched’ into the Sling Military Camp. Private Cook was attached to the Reserve Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment
but was only in training for a month as on 27th August 1917 he was declared medically unfit and repatriated to New Zealand. There is nothing on file except a later 1918 medical examination that notes rheumatisms in cold weather.
Private Cook was discharged on his arrival in New Zealand.

The news of Alfred’s brief military service was swapped in letters  between 50095 Gunner James Wilfred Mexted, NZ Field Artillery writing to his mother in Tawa.

                ‘. . . so Rusty and Alf Cook are home, Cooky wasn’t long getting back.’

Alf re-enlisted on 4th November 1917 and is listed as a single man working as a clerk for the NZ Defence Forces in Wellington. Alf’s medical noted the discharge on medical grounds but he was passed as fit for duty within New Zealand[v].

48173 Private Alfred William Cook, NZ Medical Corp entered camp on the 17th April 1918 and three months later was shipped to England with the 40th Reinforcements.  Private Cook is listed as part of Head Quarters Staff, Ship’s permanent medical staff. On arrival in England Private Cook was employed in records before returning, leaving England on Christmas Eve 24th December 1918.

Private Cook after landing in New Zealand was employed at a number of Military Hospitals in the North Island before returning to Featherston Camp and then Base Records on 8th May 1919. On 13th May 1919 Private Alfred William Cook
was discharged from the NZEF ‘no longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service.’

The 19 year old returned to his mother’s house in Tawa Flat.

Alfred William Cook married Phyllis Melva Humhrey in 1922[vi] the couple had moved to Invercargill by 1925 where he signed for his British War Medal[vii].

In 1940 Alf again volunteered for service and was appointed to the 20th Company (Bluff) National Military Reserve.
Private Cook is listed with a Invercargill address with his wife Phyllis and two children under the age of 16. Interestingly
Alf’s date of birth is listed as 1895. 601147 Private Cook served a year with the Home Guard.

Alfred William Cook died in Auckland on the 31st January 198.

It is possible that Alf’s father William Cook died in 1915 and is buried in the old Porirua Cemetery.

Paperspast Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files.

Somes Island Internees – Alexander Turnbull

[i]    NZ BDM
[ii]   1910 Wises Directory for Wellington, Taranaki and Hawkes Bay
[iii]   Parochial Porirua, 8th April 1916, NZ Truth
[iv]   Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 48173 Private Alfred William Cook
[v]    Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 48173 Private Alfred William Cook
[vi]   NZ BDM
[vii]   Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 48173 Private Alfred William Cook
German internees Somes Island, Wellington