Alan Cockeram



Dec 6, 1894

Born at Topsham, Devonshire England


Nov 3, 1914

Attested into the 21st Battalion at Kingston Ontario 

Ø      Number 59178

Ø      Next of Kin given as Miss Marjorie Cockeram (sister) of Woodbine Cottage, Cross Roads, Maldon Essex England

Ø      Occupation given as “Banker”

Ø      No previous military experience is given

o       Later claimed to have been a Lieutenant in the 41st Regiment, Brockville Rifles

Ø      Religion given as “Church of England”


May 6, 1915

Embarked the RMS Metagama at Montreal for England



May 15, 1915

Disembarked in England and proceeded to West Sandling Camp


Sep 14, 1915

Embarked at Folkestone and disembarked at Boulogne,  France


Jan 4, 1916

Attached to 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade as “Trench Warden”


Apr 3, 1916

Granted leave until April 11, 1916


Apr 16, 1916

SOS the 21st Battalion on transfer to the 39th Battalion


Apr 18, 1916

Attached to 39th Battalion for Pay, Quarters and Rations, later changed to read “TOS 39th Battalion”


Apr 19, 1916

Granted leave until May 3, 1916


Sep 25, 1916

Discharged in England on being granted a Commission in the Imperial Army as per London Gazette dated October 7, 1916 

Ø      Intended unit on re-attesting is the 3rd Battalion Devons at Devonsport


Sep 26, 1916

Granted a Commission in the 3rd Battalion, Devon Regiment of the Imperial Army as per London Gazette #29776



Oct 9, 1916

He waived any claim for transportation to Canada


Feb 20, 1917

Attached to 21st Battalion from the Devon Regiment for duty and to be Temporary Lieutenant as per London Gazette #29999



Mar 3, 1917

Joined the 21st Battalion in the field


Apr 3, 1917

Attached to Canadian Corps Light Railway


May 15, 1917

Officer’s Declaration 

Ø      No unit or location indicated on form except as “in the field”

Ø      Next of Kin given as Miss M Cockeram (sister) of 53 Fordwych Road, Brondesbury, London NW

Ø      Occupation given as “Banker”

Ø      Indicated that he is currently a member of the 41st Brockville Rifles as a Lieutenant

Ø      Religion stated as “Church of England”


Jun 3, 1917

Returned to duty from attachment


Aug 14, 1917



Aug 15, 1917

Wounded by GSW to head and arm and admitted to No 20 General Hospital at Camiers


Aug 17, 1917

Transferred to England with Gun Shot Wound to head, and right arm


Aug 19, 1917

Posted to EORD and invalided to England aboard the Hospital Ship Princess Elizabeth



Aug 20, 1917

Admitted to No 2 Eastern General Hospital at Manchester


Aug 22, 1917

TOS EORD from Overseas


Sep 14, 1917

Discharged from hospital


Sep 15, 1917

Medical Board at 13 Berners St, London 

Ø      Multiple bomb and shrapnel wounds to head and right arm

Ø      Declared to be unfit for one month


Sep 15, 1917

Granted leave for 1 month


Oct 16, 1917

Medical Board at 13 Berners St, London 

Ø      He has recovered from all wounds except the one to his right eye

Ø      He is declared unfit for service for an additional 2 months 

Granted 1 month extension to leave


Oct 18, 1917

Awarded the DSO per London Gazette # 30340



Nov 17,1917

Medical Board at 13 Berners St, London 

Ø      Noted that vision is still blurred in right eye

Ø      Declared unfit for general service for an additional month, but is fit for “Home Service”


Nov 19, 1917

Off leave and at duty at the Depot at Seaford


Dec 15, 1917

SOS 21st Battalion


Dec 21, 1917

Medical Board at Seaford 

Ø      All wounds reported healed

Ø      Declared fit for “General Service”


Dec 25, 1917

On Command of Headquarters at Shorncliffe


Dec 27, 1917

Attached to 1st Reserve Brigade HQ for duty


Dec 28, 1917

“Brought to Notice of the Secretary of State for War for valuable services rendered in connection with military operations in the field” 

Mar 7, 1918

London Gazette #30561 citation for the DSO award



Mar 28, 1918

Assumes Command of Instructional Details Headquarters of Canadian Reserve Troops, 1st Reserve Brigade


Apr 9, 1918

Ceases to be attached to Headquarters Canadian Troops to be attached to 1st Reserve Brigade


Apr 15, 1918

Off Command and on leave for 1 week


Apr 22, 1918

Off leave and SOS EORD on posting to 6th Reserve Battalion


Jun 3, 1918

SOS 6th Reserve Battalion on posting to 21st Battalion


Jun 4, 1918

Arrived at and TOS 21st Battalion at CIBD (Canadian Infantry Base Depot)


Jun 8, 1918

Left for CC Rein C (Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp)


Jun 24, 1918

Attended the 59 CCS (Casualty Clearing Station)


Aug 12, 1918

Left for unit in the field


Aug 13, 1918

Joined the 21st Battalion in the field


Aug 26, 1918

Admitted to No 4 CFA (Canadian Field Ambulance) with a shrapnel wound to right foot. 

The same day was transferred to No 33 CCS


Aug 27, 1918

Transferred to No 5 BRC (British Red Cross Hospital) at Wimereux with severe GSW to foot


Aug 30, 1918

Address of next of kin (Miss Cockeram, sister) changed to 56 Fortune Green Road, West Hampstead, NW 6


Aug 31, 1918

Discharged to duty


Sep 2, 1918

Arrived at CIBD


Sep 5, 1918

Arrived at CCRC (Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp)


Sep 6, 1918

Rejoined 21st Battalion in the field


Sep 22, 1918

To be Acting Captain replacing Temp Captain NJ MacCrimmon who was wounded


Oct 30, 1918

Granted 14 days leave


Nov 16, 1918

Rejoined battalion from leave


Nov 19, 1918

To be Temporary Captain in EOR (Eastern Ontario Regiment) as per London Gazette #51333


Mar 6, 1919

Admitted to No 6 CFA then transferred to No 53 CCS


Mar 24, 1919

Discharged to duty


Mar 29, 1919

Dispersal Certificate 

Ø      Shows rank as Temporary Lieutenant and Acting Captain with the 21st Battalion

Ø      On dispersal he will be proceeding to the Toronto Railway Station

Ø      Post discharge pay should be deposited to the Bank of Commerce at Bloor & Yonge Streets, Toronto Ontario


Apr 3, 1919

Proceeded to Canadian Embarkation Camp, England


Apr 4, 1919

TOS “P” Wing at CCC Witley, pending return to Canada


Apr 6, 1919

Admitted to No 53 CCS with a “debility”


Apr 18, 1919

Medical Report taken at “P” Wing, Witley 

Ø      Scars noted as follows

o       Near left eye

o       Right elbow

o       Right foot

§         All from wounds


Apr 24, 1919

Discharged from No 53 CCS


May 13, 1919

SOS “P” Wing and TOS CEF Canada on sailing to Canada


May 14, 1919

Embarked the SS Caronia at Liverpool for Canada



May 26, 1919

SOS the CEF on General Demobilization 

Ø      Proposed residence on discharge

o       c/o Bank of Commerce, Bloor & Yonge Streets, Toronto Ontario

Ø      Address changed June 4, 1920 to read “Woodstock Ontario”


Oct 5, 1920

Dental exam completed at Woodstock Ontario


Dec 19, 1989

A Statement of Service is prepared as a result of a request for information by his daughter, Mrs EM Plumb, of Toronto




Toronto Daily Star July 25, 1940 


Wiped Out Gun Crew One Day—In Hand-to Hand Fight the Next 



            Of the 245 seats in Canada’s House of Commons, one is held by a woman, one by an officer serving overseas, and eight by officers who are mobilized but not yet abroad. 

            Of these nine statesmen in khaki, only one commands a battalion, and that one not only commands one battalion but is second in command of another. 

            Before this month ends, this colonel will resign his command and take major’s rank and pay as second in command, because the unit where he is second is on the active list and the other is not. 

            Step up then folks and meet Lt-Col Alan Cockeram, DSO, who holds two of the biggest military jobs in Toronto……and one in Ottawa. 

            The colonel is at present commander of the second battalion, Toronto Irish Regiment, and second in command of the Toronto Irish Regiment in the Canadian Active Service Force…..and when people call him “cocky” it’s not altogether a nickname.  It might be a pretty good description. 

            In civil life Alan Cockeram is a mine executive and his growling laugh has been heard up and down the north woods from the Arctic circle to here and back again. 

            Yesterday we had to confess that the commander of the Irish Regiment, Lieut-Col HB Duthie, was not Irish, but a Scotch Canadian.  Now it’s horrible to repeat that the second in command is English; straight English, with no Irish mingled in at all.  D’Arcy Hinds must be blushing. 

            Alan Cockeram was born in Topsham Devonshire, came to Canada in 1913 and immediately joined the Canadian Bank of Commerce at Bloor and Yonge.  The next year…the fateful year of 1914…Cockeram was transferred to Brockville and there he got a commission in the 41st Brockville Rifles, a unit still in existence but not yet mobilized. 

Enlisted as a Private 

            That commission came along in midsummer, a few weeks before the outbreak of war, and just as soon as war did come, Cockeram chucked it up and enlisted in the 21st battalion (Kingston), as a private. 

            Cockeram quit the commission because that was the quickest way of getting overseas and he did get overseas in May 1915.  Four months later the battalion was ordered to France and through the ranks came the colonel to order that Cockeram stay behind and study for a commission. 

            He refused.  Maybe that was mutiny or treason or what not, but anyhow Cockeram said he didn’t want a commission because that meant delay in getting into the big show and delay was the one thing he couldn’t tolerate. 

            “If I am alive six months from now I’ll apply for leave to study for a commission,” he said by way of compromise. 

            He actually waited seven months, was just as lively as he is now…if not more so… and went back for that commission in April ’15.  By the end of August Second Lieutenant Alan Cockeram was back in France with the First Devonshire Regiment, but the 21st didn’t like that a little bit.  They complained that one their bright young men had been hijacked and it was time he came back home. 

            “But Cockeram is an Englishman” somebody said.  “so what…we saw him first.”  Cockeram returned to Canada’s 21st Battalion in February 1917, and at both Vimy Ridge and Hill 70 things began to pop for both himself and the outfit. 

How He Won the DSO 

            If this war has proved nothing else, it has established that the best you can get is the worst of it when asking an officer how won his medals.  It’s known that Cockeram was recommended for the Victoria Cross, but wound up with the Distinguished Service Order, and the citation for that order follows: 

            “To Lieut Alan Cockeram, 21st Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in leading his platoon in an attack.  On reaching his objective he came under heavy fire from a machine gun.  Taking two men with him, he immediately rushed forward, personally killed the gun crew and then noticing that a booby trap was attached to the gun, he threw it backwards, on which the trap exploded (a booby trap is a bomb left to catch the unwary).  During this operation Cockeram was wounded but refused to leave his platoon.  Later in the day while on reconnaissance with two non commissioned officers, he met a party of the enemy, all of whom were killed. 

            On the following morning this officer led his platoon in the open against a strong enemy counter-attack and after hand-to-hand fighting in which he personally accounted for several of the enemy, he was severely wounded.  (A bomb hit him in the face).  The attack was repulsed.  Cockeram’s fearlessness throughout was most marked.” 

            So that’s the way it all reads in the King’s records…but it would be fun to hear the colonel say it in his won way. 

            Later during the war Cockeram was wounded again and mentioned in dispatches.   He was demobilized as captain, and company commander in May 1919, and except for acting as staff captain to the infantry brigade headed by Col HJ Dawson of Kingston, Cockeram had no further military connection until 1929. 

            The Irish Regiment claimed him at that tiem as major and company commander.  This fighting regiment, war born and with the swank motto in Garlic “We clear the way,” had been dormant 10 years. 

Reverts in Ranks Again 

            When it was reorganized, Cockeram went in immediately, but was about to retire in 1936 when the commander, Lieut-Col WH Stanley, MC, was killed by a Toronto street car.  Cockeram took over the regiment with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.  He was succeeded by the present commander, Lieut-Col Duthie in 1938, and put in charge of the reserve battalion. 

            As soon as war came along Col Cockeram hollered to get in…but fast.   He reverted in rank to major to become second in command and when the order recently came to raise a new battalion, Cockeram was the man to do it. 

            Already he has his officer personnel pretty well lined up and more than 200 men have been signed on.  In connection with this battalion, Cockeram runs the show…and we mean runs it.  He has the appointments under his personal control…all of them.   Among other things he suggested Lieut-Col LH Nelles, DSO, to succeed him in command and this change will be effected Monday. 

            We asked the colonel about ambition.  What did he aim to do with this battalion?  What did he aim to do about himself? 

            “For the battalion I want…and I’ll get…a unit any man can be proud of.  I want to recruit, train and equip this unit in kilts and then turn it over, intact and in good spirit, to my successor.  Then I want to go back to the original battalion.” 

            A tall order but the odds are 20 to one it will be accomplished by Thanksgiving day, or sooner.



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