Sutton pensioner traces uncle’s war grave in Mansfield

Brian Wright at his great uncles grave in Mansfield cemetery.
Brian Wright at his great uncles grave in Mansfield cemetery.

A pensioner who was shocked to learn he had a relative who died in The Great War has spent months tracking him down, only to find him in nearby Mansfield Cemetery.

Brian Wright, who lives on Farndale Road in Sutton, was stunned when he was recently handed two photographs of serving soldier, Private Joseph Cooke, by his elderly cousin.

Pte Cooke (26) was a member of the Northumberland Fusiliers who served his country in Belgium but died close to the end of the war.

But for 73-year-old Brian, it was the first he had heard about his great uncle.

“He was my grandmother’s younger brother but I had no idea I was related to him,” he said.

“I was surprised to get the photographs, it’s never been mentioned before.

“I think the photos may have been just put in a drawer and forgotten about, but my cousin Ken asked me to look after them because if something happened to him they wouldn’t be thrown away.”

But after deciding to delve into the history books, he unearthed details which allowed him to track the war hero to the Derby Road cemetery.

He contacted the Fusiliers Museum in Alnwick Castle who were able to provide details, while Brian studied the 1901 and 1911 census in an effort to glean further scraps of details.

And after inquiring at Mansfield Cemetery, he was directed towards the grave.

Brian added: “He is more or less at the side of my mother, but I think that’s just coincidence!

“I’m really pleased that I’ve found it, but I’m not sure if there’s much more I’ll be able to find out about him.”

Brian found that Pte Cooke had , at some point, lived on Victoria Street in Mansfield, and was married to a woman named Emily Stokes.

Pte Cooke was injured in France, but returned to the frontline after recovering, in 1918, to fight on the battlefields of Flanders, where he was mortally wounded.

He was brought home to Bagthorpe Hospital in Nottingham, now known as the City Hospital.

He died on 11th October, 1918 exactly a month before the war ended.

Anyone who may have information on Pte Cook, or any descendants, is being asked to contact Brian Wright on 01623 461359.