The Naval Brigade in Egypt and the Soudan
Naval Brigade at El Teb & Tamaai

William Jasper Cook was born on 1 Jun 1851 in Ipswich Suffolk. He entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 1st class on board HMS
Irresistible on 27 Nov ’67.  He was 16 ½ yrs of age & he was able to read and write.  He first ships were  HMS Terror (for passage) &
HMS  Aboukir, Cook being rated Ordinary Seaman on his 18th birthday 1 Jun ’69 whilst Aboukir. He joined HMS Philomel on 1 Sep ’70
& was rated Able Seaman on board her on 10 Aug ’72.

After a brief stint on board Duke of Wellington & is drafted to HMS Devastation for most of 1873, until he joined HMS Active on the
coast of Africa on 5 Oct.

Cook must have had some exceptional ability as promotion now came very quickly for him, for the Victorian navy. Whilst on board
Active Cook is promoted to Leading Seaman on 23 Nov, granted his first GCB (Good Conduct badge) on 10 Aug ’74 & then promoted
to PO2nd cl on 1 Oct, & 2 months later, on 1 Dec, to PO 1st cl.

Whilst on Active Cook saw active service & action ashore as part of Active’s Naval Brigade. He was one of 118 ships company of Active
that rec’d the Coomassie clasp. To receive the clasp they had to be present at the battle of Amoaful (21 Jan ’74) & the smaller actions
on the march to Coomassie, including the capture of Coomassie (4 Feb) & be on shore north of the Prah River.  The Prah River was
quite a hike in from the Gold Coast, approx 125 miles thru thick jungle.

22 CGM’s were awarded to members of the Naval Bde for the Ashantee campaign.  This was Cook’s first taste of a shore action.
Artist rendition on the Naval Brigade at Battle Amoaful (Coomassie) 31 Jan
Cook returned to UK, left Active on 12 Apl ’77, & was drafted to Duke of Wellington, briefly to Active again, & then to Achilles on 29
Jun, as Captain’s Coxswain.

For a Victorian seaman/rating the appointment of  Captain’s Coxswain was very desirable. Not only did it entail a raise in pay but also
in prestige, however coming with that was a position entailing a fair amount of responsibility.  He had to be a 100% competent
seaman & absolutely trusted by his Captain.

HMS Achille’s Captain at the time was Capt William Hewett, VC.   Hewett was to remain in command of her until he was promoted to
Rear Admiral in Mar ’78.

How Cook came to be noticed by Hewett is unknown, possibly during the Ashantee campaign.  Cook may have been at the time on
the Commodores boat’s crew. Hewett was Commodore on the west coast of Africa, flying his flag in Active, at the time & was also a
senior officer in the Naval Brigade during the expedition to Coomassie.

Cook had previously rec’d his 2nd GCB on 1 July ’77.  On 2 Apl ’78  Cook moves  briefly to HMS Sultan, then to Simoom.   After Cook
leaves Simoom he is drafted to Duke of Wellington until he is appointed to HMS Excellent on 9 Jun ’78, to qualify for Seaman Gunner
1st cl, which he does on 1 Dec ’78.

He is then drafted to HMS Hector  on 12 Dec ’78 & remains on her until Apl ’82. Hector at the time was Coastguard ship in
Southampton Water & Queen’s Guardship at Cowes during the summer months.

During his time on Hector Cook was appointed Captain’s Coxswain to Captains Cortland, Simpson, & Richard Carter.

Cook is about to become very lucky again, for on 24 Apl ’82 he gets drafted to HMS President where he is promoted to CPO &
appointed Admiral’s Coxswain to Rear Admiral William Hewett VC.

How Hewett & Cook met up again I don’t know, but I suspect Hewitt likely selected to Cook as his coxswain. Cook had been Hewett’s
Coxswain on Achilles & was obviously pleased with his service. Admirals in the day were permitted to select their own personal staff to
accompany them to a Flag appointment.

To be appointed as a Admiral’s Coxswain Petty Officer Cook had to be of superior ability, a superb seaman & have the  complete trust
of Admiral Hewett. The appointment of Admiral’s Coxswain was ‘the top of the naval ladder’ appointment for a Seaman rating.

In any event, for Cook it was to be a prime appointment & he was to remain with the Admiral for the greater part of the rest of
Hewett’s career.

Admiral Hewett was subsequently appointed to HMS Euryalus, Flag Ship East Indies station, & Cook accompanies him.  
Admiral Hewett
participate in the Naval brigade for the battle of
El Teb on 29 Feb ’84. Admiral Hewett had been
appointed Commander in Chief in the Red Sea
during Naval operation in the Eastern Soudan in
1884, & was appointed Governor General of
Suakin on 10 Feb ’84, & participated in the
battle of El Teb.

During this time Hewett was promoted to Vice
Admiral on in July ’84.

Hewitt’s time as Commander East Indies was up
& he struck his flag 17 Apl ’85 & returned to UK.

Cook’s Egypt medals bears the clasps for El Teb
& Suakin ’84.& is named to him as Admiral
Coxswain. Unfortunately HMS Euryalus missed
the bombardment of Alexandria by one day.
Cook also returned to UK in HMS Philomel, served briefly(2 wks) on HMS
Turquoise, & then returned to HMS Excellent to requalify in gunnery, which
he did on 10 Feb ’86.

Cook’s next appointment, on 20 Mar ’86, was to HMS Minotaur, Flagship of
Vice Admiral  Hewett,  Admiral Commanding the Channel Squadron, Cook
again being Adm Hewett’s Coxswain.  Hewett’s flagship was changed to
HMS Northumberland in Nov ’87.

Whilst on Northumberland Cook rec’d his Naval Long Service medal & it is
named to him as:  “Admiral’s Coxswain, HMS Northumberland.”

Admiral Hewett remained on board Northumberland until striking his flag in
Apl ’88.  Hewett by this time was quite ill & went to Haslar hospital for
He did not recover & died on 13 May ‘88.  Presumably Cook was in
attendance at his funeral.

Cook, meanwhile was drafted to Excellent on 18 Apl where he was
appointed Chief Quartermaster of  Whale Island, & Gunnery Instructor.

He is next appointed on 28 Oct ‘88 to Duke of Wellington as Chief
Quartermaster, & was appointed as Admiral’s Coxswain to the Commander
in Chief Portsmouth, Admiral Sir John Commerville & was to serve as his
Coxswain until Commerville hauled down his flag on 21 Jun ’91.
Cook’s time was up on 1 Jun 1889 but he was permitted to sign on again
for a further 5 years service, likely due to his appointment.

Cook was then drafted to HMS Victory 1 Aug ’91 & again appointed as
Chief Quartermaster & Admiral’s Coxswain to the new Commander in Chief
Portsmouth, Admiral The Right Honourable Earl of Clanwilliam.  

This was Cook’s last appointment in a long & varied career.  Cook had
done very well for himself in the RN, he started with next to nothing as a
Boy Seaman & progressed up the ladder to achieve one of the most
sought after & prestigious appointments for a rating in the Victorian Navy.
He  finally went to pension after a very eventful career of 27 years on 20
July 1894.
Some of Cook’s family information from
what I have been able to obtain from the
10 yearly Census :

Cook was married to Emily & in the 1891
census he is shown as Commander In Chief’
s Coxswain, Portsmouth. Their address was
21 Northcote Rd, & have 2 sons, William(3)
& Albert(1).

In 1901 their family now consisted of three
daughters - Lily(8), Evelyn(6),  Eliza(1), &
one son, George(3).  Presumably his first
two sons had died within the 10 yrs
between census.  Cook was then aged 49 &
Emily 38.
Now the Cook family was living at 15 Harold
Road, & Cook was employed in the
Portsmouth Dockyard as a skilled labourer.

Cook died in Portsmouth in the 1st quarter
(Jan, Feb, Mar) of 1930, aged 78.
Left: HMS Euraylus