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LIVES OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
The E.J. Boys Archive

Amended 14.5.11. Minor edits 17.2.14, 21.7.14.

1048, Private Thomas COOK - 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Northgate, Canterbury.

He may have been a relative of 999 Philip Cook, 13th Light Dragoons, also born here.

Enlistment

Enlisted at Canterbury on the 13th of October 1840.

Age: 20.

Height: 5' 7.

Trade: Servant.

Features: Fresh complexion. Grey eyes. Dk. brown hair.

Service

1851 Census

Piershill Barracks, Leith South, Midlothian.

Thomas Cook, 31, Private Soldier, born Canterbury.

Received a severe gun-shot wound in the chest at Balaclava during the Charge and was taken prisoner of war by the Russians.

At the time of his death in 1884 it was recorded that:

"some considerable time after the campaign Cook had to be ordered into hospital, as he complained very much of pain in his chest, in the region of a wound he had received, and the skill of the surgeon resulted in the extraction of an old Light Dragoon button. This had evidently been driven into his body by the bullet with whch he was wounded, thus saving his life. The old man had saved the bullet for many years, but lost it in 1882."

Re-joined the regiment by exchange of prisoners on the 30th of October 1855. He was shown on a nominal roll of men of the Regiment made out at the Cavalry Depot, Scutari on the 9th of November 1855 as being a Prisoner of War there from the 4th of November.

Discharge & pension

Discharged from Aldershot on the 25th of April 1864 a result of:

"Injury to knee joint. Caused by accidentally falling down-stairs whilst descending from the barrack-room to the stables. He is an old soldier and was severely wounded at Balaclava. He is quite unable to earn his own livelihood as he is very lame and will never fully recover the use of his leg."

Served 23 years 79 days. In Turkey and the Crimea, 2 years.

Conduct, "good". In possession of four Good Conduct badges.

Forty-six times entered in the Regimental Defaulter's book. Never tried by Court-martial.

Tried and imprisoned, 4th-10th of September 1846, 3rd-10th of December 1847, 5th-12th of January 1848.

Medals

Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma, Balaclava, Sebastopol and the Turkish medal.

Documents confirm the award of the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma and Balaclava (there is no mention of Sebastopol) and the Turkish Medal.

He was awarded a pension of 1/6d. per day. Living in the Canterbury Pension District in 1875.

Commemorations

Attended the first Balaclava Dinner in 1875.

Life after service

Admitted to In-Pension at Chelsea Royal Hospital on the 1st of December 1868. Recommended to be "dismissed for drunkenness" on the 4th of October 1870, but was cautioned by the Board and allowed to remain on promise of amendment.

Dismissed for "drunkenness" on the 21st of February 1871.

At the time of his admittance as an In-Pensioner at Chelsea Royal Hospital he was shown as being 47 years of age, a "single man", and of "good character". His address at that time was 1, St. Gregory's Place, Northgate, Canterbury.

1881 Census

45, New Ruttington Lane, St Mary Northgate, Canterbury.

The 1881 Census showa him as living as a Lodger at the home of Ellen Foster, a Field Worker. He was described as a Chelsea Pensioner, aged 61, born at Canterbury.

Death & burial

Died at Canterbury on the 8th of May 1884.

Death registered

Thomas Cook, aged 62 years, June Quarter 1884, Blean.



(Click on image to enlarge)

According to Burials in the Parish of St. Gregory the Great, he was buried in the churchyard on the 12th of May 1884, aged 62 years, by the Revd. W.H. Gibbons, in Plot No. F. 206. He was most probably buried in the Military portion of St.Gregory's churchyard at Canterbury, of which nothing but a few stones now remains, having been made (post Second World War) into a children's playground.

The Cathedral Archives, which holds the registers for St. Gregory's, does not include that for the military extension. There was also another cemetery behind the "Royal Dragoon" public house in Military Road, now partly destroyed by road widening and being made into a pub "garden".

Here again, only a few stones remain, none of which are legible. Both were in the area of the Barracks. (See photograph of the former St. Gregory's cemetery in its present form as a children's play-ground, in the 13th Hussar file.)

(See the report of his death and funeral in St. Gregory's Cemetery, taken from the Kent Gazette, 13th of May 1884, in the 13th Hussar file.)

References & acknowledgements

Census information for 1851, registration and newspaper notices of death kindly provided by Chris Poole.


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