Topic: Walter Evan Cookson

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A soldier of the Great War killed in action near Armentiers.

Corporal Walter Evan Cookson - 6/28 

Walter was born 29 Apr 1890 at Templeton, son of Arthur and Agnes Cookson and brother of Clement Frank.  He was 5ft 6in tall with a fair complexion, brown eyes and brown hair. He also had a scar on his left upper arm.  He was educated at Christchurch Boys' High School. Before enlisting he worked as a Mechanical Engineer for John Anderson, Lichfield St. He was a well-known New Zealand swimmer, winning several Canterbury championships and even, once defeating  Malcolm Champion, New Zealand’s first Gold medal winning swimmer. He also won the New Zealand breast-stroke championship and was for five years a member of the champion water-polo team.  He was also a member of the Old Boys' Junior Football fifteen.

He enlisted on 16 August 1915 at Christchurch and was assigned to the Canterbury Infantry Regiment.  He embarked with the Main Body on 16 October 1914. He was wounded in action at Gallipoli on 31 May 1915, with a bomb injury to arm and hand. He was treated on the Hospital ship Clacton, re-joined his unit and later sailed for France on the Franconia. The New Zealand forces were tasked with the defence of the Armentieres section of trenches. It was reported that on the night of July 19th he was in charge of a post, when the trench was enfiladed by German shellfire. Although he was also wounded it was the concussion that killed him. He was buried in the Cite Bonjean Cemetery, Armentieres, France.  Walter is remembered on the Lincoln Roll of Honour and the New Brighton Surf-Bathing and Life-Saving Club, Roll of Honour.

His name also appears on the New Zealand national blue ensign flag which was flown at Quinn's Post, Gallipoli, in 1915. Quinn's was the most famous post as it was the salient of the Anzac line and the nearest point to the Turkish forces. The flag was brought back to New Zealand by Private John Taylor, Canterbury Battalion. In the top left hand corner the flag has been signed by members of the Canterbury Battalion. The names include: J. Taylor; R.A. Humm CQMS; T. Gardiner; D. Dobson; C. Jenkinson; W.E. Cookson; and J. Seary. Although the names are very faded, Cookson's appears to  be annotated 'killed in action' (Corporal Walter Evan Cookson was killed in France on 19 July 1916).  'New Zealand flag from Quinn's Post', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 3-Apr-2014

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 CWGC Cemetery locale history: Armentieres is a town in the Department of the Nord, on the Belgian frontier, 14.5 kilometres north-west of Lille.  Armentieres was occupied by the 4th Division on 17 October 1914 and it remained within the Allied lines until its evacuation ahead of the German advance on 10 April 1918, after a prolonged and heavy bombardment with gas shell. It was occupied by the Germans next day, and was not recovered until 3 October 1918. CITE BONJEAN MILITARY CEMETERY was begun (Plot IX) in October 1914 and during the winter of 1914-15 it was used for civilian burials (later removed), the town cemetery at Le Bizet being too greatly exposed. The cemetery continued to be used by field ambulances and fighting units (particularly the 4th, 6th, 21st, New Zealand, 17th and 57th (West Lancashire) Divisions and the Australian Corps) until April 1918. Plots V, VI, VII and X were then used by the Germans. The cemetery now contains 2,132 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. In 1925, 455 German graves were removed from Plots V and VI, but more than 500 remain in the cemetery.  Within the cemetery stands the CITE BONJEAN (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL, commemorating 47 officers and men of the New Zealand Division who died in the neighbourhood of Armentieres and have no known grave. This is one of seven memorials in France and Belgium to those New Zealand soldiers who died on the Western Front and whose graves are not known. The memorials are all in cemeteries chosen as appropriate to the fighting in which the men died. The cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

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Walter Evan Cookson

First Names:Walter Evan
Last Name:Cookson
Date of Birth:29 April 1890
Place of Birth:Templeton
Date of Death:19 July 1916
Place of Death:Somme, France
Memorial or Cemetery:Cite Bonjean Military cemetery, Armentiers
Age at death:28
User Name:Selwyn Library
Other names known by:BDM, Evan Walter
Occupation before enlisting:Mechanical Engineer
Marital Status:Single
Nominal Roll:147
Regiment or Service:Canterbury Infantry Regiment
Enlistment details:219 Barbadoes Street, Christchurch, New Zealand
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of Arthur and Agnes Cookson, of Methven, Canterbury.
Service Number:6128
Rank last held:Corporal
Embarkation:16 October 1914
Place of Embarkation:Lyttelton
Transport:Tahiti or Athenic
Theatres of War:Gallipoli, France
Cause of Death:Killed in action
Other biographical information:NOK Arthur Cookson, Lincoln, Canterbury,