Home of the Infantry Regiments of Berkshire and Wiltshire

Object of the Month

Hand Painted Decorative Ostrich Eggs

These were decorated by Sergeant Frederick Cook DCM while serving with the Wiltshire Regiment during the Boer War in South Africa – one for the 1st Battalion and the other for the 2nd Battalion (Wiltshire Regiment). Both of these battalions were involved in the Boer War between 1899 and 1902 and were formerly known as the 62nd Regiment of Foot and the 66th Regiment, hence numbers on the eggs. The Wiltshires fought in all major engagements during this War and the previous African war – the Zulu War in 1879.

Unfortunately we have no enlistment details for him, so he must have been transferred to the Wiltshire Regiment from either the Wiltshire Militia or the Territorials. What is fairly certain though is that he painted the eggs while serving with the 1st Battalion at Pietermaritzburg in South Africa between 1909 and 1913.

He was with the 1st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment in England on the outbreak of the First World War and arrived at Rouen in France with his Battalion on 14th August 1914, in the rank of Lance Corporal. He was wounded in action on 30th June 1915 when the enemy shelled the Menen Road at Hooge, Belguim and broke into the trenches. He was then promoted to Sergeant on 1st October 1916 while serving at Thiepval, France. He was wounded again in June 1917 at Wulverghem, Belgium with gunshot wounds to the left arm and left leg. Now a Sergeant he rejoined the Battalion later that month.

On 16th August 1917 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal ‘for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when held up by machine gun fire. He then, with a party of soldiers, captured the machine gun emplacement, bayoneting and grenading the occupiers of the gun emplacement, thus enabling the advance to continue’.

On 24th March 1918 he was reported as missing in action and presumed Killed in Action or a Prisoner of War. Nothing more is recorded until he arrived in Hull, England on 6th January 1919.

He was discharged on 6th April 1919.

For his war service he was also awarded the 1914 Star medal, together with the British War Medal and Victory Medal.