Cyril was born in Barking, Essex in 1899; in 1911, then aged 3, he was living at Ivy Cottage, Long lane, East Finchley in North London, with his father Arthur, who was a ‘Manager’ Butcher, his mother Florence, 3 brothers, Ernest, Albert and Victor and sister Ethel all of whom were still at school. Cyril enlisted into the Army at Lambeth, London, his Army number (9612) dates to August 1914, which means he was a early volunteer and probably no older than 16 when he joined (A recruit had to be aged between 18-38 to join and 5 feet, 23 inches in height, but couldn’t be posted overseas until 19), Cyril’s employment prior joining the army is listed as’ Office Boy’.
After his basic training, Cyril a Londoner joined the 5th Battalion (Duke of Edinburgh’s) Wiltshire Regiment, which was formed at Devizes in August 1914 as part of Kitcheners ‘New’ K1 Army and is attached as Army troops to the 13th (Western Division). The Regiment moved firstly to Tidworth and in October 1914 to Chiseldon, followed by subsequent moves to Cirencester, Woking and finally Bisley in May 1915. On the 1st July 1915 the 5 th Battalion (Duke of Edinburgh’s) Wiltshire Regiment sailed from Avonmouth for Gallipoli landing at Cape Helle, 17th July 1915, but then moved to the Anzac Cove Area on the 4th August 1915.
Over the next five months the Allies carried out a number of large offensives and small skirmishes to push through the Turkish lines for little gain or to counter attack against Turkish actions at great cost to life, of which the Wiltshire’s were heavily involved in.
During the 27th November 1915, severe rain and thunderstorms, turned into blizzards, hit Gallipoli, more than 280 men died due to the weather and there were a further 16,000 cases of frost bite. On the 7th December 1915, the British government gave final approval for the evacuation of Anzac and Sulvla Positions on the night of the 19-20th December 1915.
On the 14th December 1915, up in the cold and snow of the forward trenches Cyril was with still with the Wiltshire’s, preparing for the evacuation he knew would be coming. Normally soldiers would spend eight days in the front line and four days in the reserves trench, Cyril and his mates were due to come out of the front line soon, however the Wiltshire’s were still keeping the pressure on the Turkish forward trenches by carrying out small offensive patrols, as the War Diary for the 12th December 1915 states:
Regiment. 5th Wiltshire, Location Gallipoli, Suvla, Entry Fire trenches 2/Lt O'Brien and party of 6 men attached to Bde H.Q. for duty as guides etc. during evacuations. Lt Brown proceeded with Div. Advance party inspection by Brigadier General of Bn. in full marching order. Patrol 2/Lt Webb and 2 grenadiers went out and approached within 30 yards of Turkish Trenches on which they threw 3 bombs and retired under fire. Remarks: Patrol.
On the 15th December 1915, the 5th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment was relived in place by the 4th South Wales Borderers and the Battalion withdrew to the Reserve Lines, sometime later that day Pte Cyril Cook whilst on Brigade Fatigues, was killed. The 5th Wiltshire War Diary for the day simply states "The Battalion relieved by 4/SWB and proceeded to reserve lines Pte Cook killed while on Bde. Fatigue". Unusually, the war diary, which normally would only mention officer’s names that had been wounded or killed or those put forward for bravery awards, specifies Cyril’s name, .
Cyril Edward Cook is remembered on the Helles Memorial, Turkey, on Panel 156 to 158, The Helles Memorial serves the dual function of Commonwealth battle memorial for the whole Gallipoli campaign and place of commemoration for many of those Commonwealth servicemen who died there and have no known grave, and the memorial bears more than 21,000 names.