The Last of the Cooks of Cook's Corner
Major Charles William Futcher COOK ERD TM CMILT MCIPR Royal Engineers
The Man Charles William Futcher Cook, was born on 1st March 1920 into a family of Master Builders and living at "Endeavour Cottage", 1 Parsons Street, Cook’s Corner, Hendon. He had three sisters. In 1928, aged eight Charles joined the Scout Movement, remaining a member for the rest of his life. In 1929 following the loss of his father he moved to Harrow, with his mother and sisters, thus becoming known “The last of the Cooks of Cook's Corner". Charles was educated at Kingsbury County School, on Edgware Road and it was during his last term that his sister brought him an application form for a job with the new national railway company. Despite “hopeless national unemployment” at the time, Charles now aged 15 was taken on, much to the delight of his head teacher who described the news as a “wonderful opportunity.” With war looming in the 1930s, Charles joined the Territorial Army Royal Engineers with service number 2041330, later 22783797. Following the Munich Crisis in 1938 he was embodied and on the outbreak of World War II on 3rd September 1939 called up. He was later posted to Egypt for the first major reinforcement of the War and wounded while taking part in the invasion of Sicily, though after recovering, went on to spend the rest of the war in the Middle East before returning to his career in the railway industry following VE Day and having been promoted to Staff Sergeant. He was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45 and Efficiency Medal ‘Territorial’. During the third quarter of 1945, Charles married Edith Cavell Perkins in Hendon. Charles’ life at British Rail sent him to York, following praise he had received for his engineering work on tunnels at Potters Bar and Hadley Wood. In York he became Public Affairs Manager for British Rail (Eastern Region) and Press Officer, British Railways Board. One of his first jobs in his new role was to organise celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the railway and, two years later, he handled the launch of high speed trains and later the modernisation and electrification of part of the East Coast Main Line.
On 11th May 1953 he was Commissioned as Lieutenant into the Royal Engineers Army Emergency Reserve, Movement Control Section, which specifically revolved around his work on the Railways, with service number 429284. He was promoted to Captain with his seniority backdated to 15th May 1954 and Major on 11th November 1959, seniority backdated to 6th June. Charles was awarded his Emergency Reserve Decoration in May 1965 and in July was transferred from the RE into the Royal Corps of Transport AER. Charles retired from British Railways in 1982 aged 62 after 47 years of service to the Industry and concentrated on his work with the Scout Movement, with which he was still involved having been a Cub, Scout, Rover Scout, Rover Scout Leader and District Commissioner for Kenton in Harrow. The latter years of his life were largely taken up by caring for his wife, Edith, who suffered the first of three major heart attacks in 1982 and died in June 2002. Charles died on 20th September 2009 aged 89 and his funeral held in All Hallows Church, Sutton-on-the-Forest, North Yorkshire on Friday 2nd October at 2pm. No flowers were requested but donations if desired to C Medd F.D., Market Place, Easingwold, York, YO61 3AB or at the ceremony for the division Railway Benevolent Institution and Army Benevolent Fund. It was said of Charles in the local press that “He will not only be remembered for his years of dedication to the railway industry both in York and throughout the UK, but also his life-long membership of the Boy Scout movement”.
The Story The group of medals awarded to Charles William Futcher Cook were acquired from Philip Burman at the Order & Medals Research Society annual convention on Sunday 25th September 2016. They were taken after some deliberation, and checks using the free internet available in the hotel reception to confirm the date and award of the Emergency Reserve Decoration in 1965. The group were of interest due to the unusual combination of the ERD and Efficiency Medal, and the plan had been to strip the medals down, clean them, re-ribbon and court mount in the same way other groups have been in this collection. However on return home from the convention, a quick search on the internet revealed a detailed obituary of Charles Cook, and a superb photograph showing him wearing the medals, exactly as they had been acquired, including the ERD brooch bar in the wrong position. After some thought it was decided to leave the medals a they had been worn, in testimony to Charles Cook. An interesting group and one where little information was expected to be discovered apart from the usual from Ancestry.UK and the London Gazette. However, once again, The Power of the Internet proved its worth in putting a face to the ‘Man Behind his Medals’ and giving his biography.
- 1929-45 Star: Unnamed as issued.
- Africa Star: Unnamed as issued.
- Defence Medal:: Unnamed as issued.
- War Medal 1939-45: Unnamed as issued.
- Emergency Reserve Decoration: 1965.
- Efficiency Medal: 2041330 SJT. C.W.F. COOK. R.E.
This page last updated 4 Oct 16