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200643-csm-edward-cookson-mmEdward Cookson was born on the 29th June 1886 at 8 Alma Street in Preston to Thomas and Rachael Cookson (nee Carlton). His parents married in St Paul`s Church in Preston on the 31st October 1883 and Edward was the second of nine children born to the couple, the others being;

  • Charles (1884)
  • Thomas (1888)
  • Walter (1890)
  • Richard (1894)
  • Alice (1895)
  • Edith May (1899)
  • Emily (1902)
  • Gilbert Carlton (1904)

In both the 1891 and 1901 Census Edward and his family were living at 50 Kent Street. His father`s occupation was described as a `wire drawer`, elder brother Charles was an apprentice rope maker and younger brother Thomas was a labourer in a biscuit works whilst Edward had gone to work in Paul Berry`s boot, shoe and slipper works as an apprentice slipper maker.

On the 13th February 1909 Edward married Theresa Parkinson at St. Jude with St. Paul`s Church in Preston and after their marriage they went to live with Theresa`s sister Margaret Parkinson at 81 Ellen Street. In the Census taken in 1911 Edward and Theresa were still living with Margaret Parkinson in Ellen Street and they also had a son, Joseph (1909). Edward was also still employed at Berry`s factory as a boot maker/repairer and Theresa was working as a weaver in one of the local mills. Two years later Edward and Theresa had a second son and they named him Edward after his father.

At the outbreak of war Edward enlisted into the 4th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was issued with the service number 2591 which would later become 200643.  None of Edward`s service papers appear to have survived so unfortunately precise information is fairly limited. Prior to his enlistment he was still employed by Berry`s and working in their slipper factory in Preston. Edward embarked for France with the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915.

Later information states that Edward managed to come through the Battalion`s first major action at Festubert on the 15th June 1915 unscathed and it was after this that the Preston Guardian printed an article with photographs of Edward, his mother Rachael and three of his brothers, Charles (R.A.M.C.), Thomas (King`s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment) and Richard (West Lancs R.F.A.).


A week after landing in France the 1/4th Battalion became part of the 154th Brigade of 51st (Highland) Division but in January 1916 they transferred to the 164th Brigade of 55th (West Lancashire) Division. Edward continued to serve with the Battalion and as far as we know he came through all of the major battles that they were involved in on the Somme including; Guillemont, Ginchy, Flers-Courcellette and Morval.

During June and July 1917 the weather had been fairly dry but on the 29th July a thunderstorm arrived and the amount of rain that fell filled the shell holes with water and made the roads almost impassable due to the amount of mud. On the 31st July 1917 the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) began and it was during the Battalion`s involvement in the first phase known as the Battle of Pilckem (31st July – 2nd August 1917) that Edward, along with several other men were awarded a Military Medal for gallantry in action.

“At 03:30hrs on 31st July 1917 the British opened up a heavy artillery barrage on the enemy. Later, the 1/4th Bn, part of the 164th Brigade were tasked to seize and secure the Gheluvelt-Langemarcke line.

Midway into their advance to secure their objective, casualties began to get particularly heavy, owing to enemy sniper fire, machine gun-fire and shelling from two sides. A number of Officers had also been killed. The Battalion continued to push forward and succeeded in securing their objective by 11:40hrs. The line was held up until around 14:30hrs, until the enemy successfully counter-attacked and forced the Brigade to fall back.

Casualties had been high, just over 50 men from the 1/4th Bn killed; and another 250 men were wounded or missing during the attack”

News of Edward`s Military Medal award was covered by the local paper, the Preston Guardian;


During the course of his service Edward attained the rank of Colour Sergeant Major. He survived the war and by the 6th December 1918 he was back in Preston for the presentation of his Military Medal, the ceremony taking place during the official handing over of the Battalion `Colours` by the Mayor of Preston, the Lancashire Evening Post reporting;

6th December 1918

“The Colours of the 4th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Territorials, which were deposited at the Town Hall, Preston, in August 1914 for safe custody during the war, were handed over to a colour party from France this morning to be taken back to the regiment for the March to the Rhine. The members of the colour party were; Captain Bruden, M.C. and Bar, CSM J.E. Cookson, Sgt. J. Cookson and Sgt. H. Parkinson.

The picturesque ceremony of the parading of the Colours was witnessed by a large crowd in the Town Hall Square. Just below the balcony an armed escort from the Depot of the Regiment was drawn up, and the band of the East Lancashire Regiment (under Lieut. Fryer) was present, and also the trumpeters of the 2A Reserve Brigade R.F.A. On the balcony the Mayor and Mayoress, accompanied by (District Command), Colonel Costobadie (L.N.L. Depot Command), Staff Captain Crowe, and Officers of the Regiment who had been invalided home, including, Major Ord, Captain A.T. Houghton, Captain Entwistle and Captain Norwood. Many Aldermen, Councillors and leading citizens were also present. Prior to the ceremony the Mayor presented medals to two members of the colour party, both of whom had been with the Battalion on active service throughout the war. Sgt. J. Cookson, (Croix de Guerre) and C.S.M. J.E. Cookson (Military Medal).

After the medals had been presented the Mayor continued……”The depositing of the Colours in the Square on the Sunday following the declaration of war, with the full Battalion of over 1,000 men formed in a solid square, was an unforgettable memory. All the men were drawn from our own homes, and a score of Officers, with familiar faces, had volunteered for service, almost to a man, and in due course passed over to France and took part in many famous engagements.

Amongst the names that would be emblazoned on the beautiful colours presented to the Regiment by the town would be the following; Festubert 1915, Guillemont, Givenchy and Delville Wood (Somme 1916), 3rd Battle of Ypres, Menin Road, Guillemont Farm, Cambrai, Defence of Vaucellette Farm 1917; Defence of Givenchy, Taking of La Bassee, Heute Deule Canal and Ath. 1918.

Whilst the prevailing sentiment was one of exultation, added the Mayor, the thought of the heavy toll that war had taken could not be banished from our minds. Of that noble band of a 1000 men he feared that only a very small remnant would answer the roll call now, and if all the survivors could be got together an effaceable impression of the ravages of war would be gained”.

The Mayor then went on to name a number of Officers who had been killed and then stated; “it would be impossible to name all the rank and file who had laid down their lives, but they all died gloriously. We salute them and will never forget their memories”. (Cheers from the crowd),

As the Colours were handed over the trumpeters sounded the `general salute` after which the band played the National Anthem. Rounds of cheering for the `Duke of Lancaster and for the 4th Battalion` concluded the impressive ceremony.

Edward was finally discharged from the Army on the 1st May 1919. For his war service Edward was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to go with his Military Medal.

In 1920 Edward and Theresa had another son, naming him Thomas Allan Cookson.

After the war Edward seems to have returned to his job at the slipper works and in 1939 he was still a slipper maker and was living at 29 Old Lancaster Lane in Preston with Theresa and two of their sons, Joseph and Thomas.

Edward passed away in his hometown of Preston in 1955 aged 68 years and Theresa twenty years later in 1975.

Note; Some of the newspaper articles refer to Edward as J.E. Cookson, however, his christening record, Census records and his Medal Index card all refer to him as Edward.

Janet Davis
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