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Cocks, Samuel John

Samuel (Sam) John Cocks was born in 1870 in Wandsworth, Surrey, and was the third of nine children to Samuel Cocks and Ellen (Grace).

In Sam’s early years the family were living at 2, Ann’s Cottages, Wandsworth and Mr Cox was employed as a beater at a paper mill. Then, by 1881, they had migrated to Oakenholt to live at Crystal Terrace. Mr Cox was employed by the North Wales Paper Mill in Oakenholt doing the same job he did before. Sam was still a boy and attended the Flint Church of England School. They were to move again to 4, Marine Terrace, Oakenholt before eventually settling at 100, Marine Terrace.

Sam’s first occupation was as a railway goods clerk, and on 5th August, 1896 at the Holy Trinity Church, Chester, he married 26-year-old Alice Jones. Their address was given as Watergate Street, and Sam was an office clerk with the London and North Western Railway Company, Chester. Their first child, a daughter named Edith Marjory, was born in Chester in 1899.

That same year, on 27th August, Sam’s Putney-born mother died of heart failure at the residence of her daughter, 494, Glossop Road, Sheffield, aged just 51.

When Ronald, their second child, was born, c.1902, they were living in Dublin, Ireland where their next two children, daughters Lily and Maud, were also born. The Irish census of 1911 found them living at 8, Faughart Terrace, Dundalk; Sam had gone up in the world and had become General Manager of the Dundalk and Newry Steam Packet Company, Dundalk.

Samuel John Cocks

Samuel John Cocks

Life must have seemed rosy for Sam but tragedy was just around the corner, as his wife Alice died. The exact date of her death is not known but on the 28th December, 1915, at the Register Office, Liverpool, Sam married 46-year-old widow Jane ( Jennie) Davies of 9, Groes Road, Cressington, Liverpool. She was the daughter of the late William Williams, a hotel proprietor.

Sam’s younger brother, William Gladstone Cocks, who was on the clerical staff at the head office of the London and North Western Railway Company, Dublin, commenced his railway career at Flint, and various local stations on the North Wales Coast, in about 1899. He was transferred to North Wall, Dublin in 1905 and died at his residence in Dublin on 6th October, 1918 of acute pneumonia aged 33.

The funeral took place at the Welsh Church, Flint on Wednesday afternoon, 9th October, the remains having been brought over from Dublin the previous day. A memorial service was held the following Sunday morning at the Presbyterian Church. The Pastor (Reverend D James, MA) took as his text Psalm 49, verse 15, and in his discourse referred to the life of the deceased as full of cheer and brightness wherever he went, and his kindness of disposition, with his generous heart, made him beloved by all. There was a large congregation, who listened with rapt attention to the able discourse. At the close, the Dead March in Saul was rendered on the organ by Mrs Robert Jones, of Park Avenue.

The SS Dundalk was torpedoed and sunk on the evening of Monday, 14th October, 1918, off Anglesey, by UB123 and UB90

The SS Dundalk was torpedoed and sunk on the evening of Monday, 14th October, 1918, off Anglesey, by UB123 and UB90

Both Sam and Jennie attended the funeral and on Saturday, 12th October Sam set out without Jennie to return to Ireland, and left Liverpool on the SS Dundalk on the evening of Monday, 14th October. She was a victim of German U-boats (UB) and sunk five miles north-north-west of the Skerries, off Anglesey, by UB123 and UB90. Nineteen of her crew, including the captain, who left a widow and five children, were killed on the way across. The Daily Telegraph gave the following account of the tragic occurrence: “Five members of the crew of the steamer Dundalk, of Dundalk, all Irishmen, were landed at Douglas (Isle of Man) last Tuesday evening, having been picked up in a half-clothed condition from a boat in which they had spent sixteen hours in a heavy sea. They stated that their vessel was torpedoed at twenty past eleven on the previous night without warning, and sank in four minutes. The ship’s company numbered thirty two. There were two raft boats on deck, which floated off when the vessel foundered, but most of the crew were left struggling in the water. A collier steamer appeared on the scene, but the men are uncertain whether she rescued any of their comrades. The submarine, which was described as a large and powerful one, came to the surface while the men were struggling in the water, and, without offering assistance, headed south and west out of sight. The five men in the boat had to be continually baling out water to keep her afloat. They were starved with hunger, suffered greatly from exposure, and were exhausted when rescued. They were provided with food and clothing, and a collection was made for them on board the rescuing vessel. Another message states that twelve of the crew have been saved, and eighteen are missing. The missing include the general manager of the company (Mr S J Cocks), Captain O’Neill (master of the Dundalk), and the chief engineer.”

Captain Hugh O'Neill

Captain Hugh O’Neill

The Irish Telegraph, Belfast, stated: “The affair has created a general wave of indignation. One public official remarked to a representative that it was up to the young men of the town to have revenge for this cruel outrage, and he observed that this did away with the myth of Germany’s love for Ireland. Five members of the crew have arrived in Dundalk, showing signs of hardships they have undergone.”

Sam is remembered on his brother William and sister Fanny’s headstone in the Northop Road Cemetery, Flint (Grave 8, Line 36, South Side).

Sam is remembered on his brother William and sister Fanny’s headstone in the Northop Road Cemetery, Flint (Grave 8, Line 36, South Side).

Sam’s body was not recovered but he is commemorated on a memorial plaque in St Patrick’s Church, Dundalk (above), and is remembered on his brother William and sister Fanny’s headstone in the Northop Road Cemetery, Flint (Grave 8, Line 36, South Side).

Sam’s body was not recovered but he is commemorated on a memorial plaque in St Patrick’s Church, Dundalk

Sam’s body was not recovered but he is commemorated on a memorial plaque in St Patrick’s Church, Dundalk

Sam’s father was born in Wandsworth, Surrey and died on 16th October, 1928, aged 83, and buried with his wife in the Northop Road Cemetery. He had been a member of the Presbyterian Church, Chester Road, for 45 years and a memorial service was held there on the Sunday following his death and was conducted by the Pastor, the Reverend J Martin Davies. He referred to the great loss which the church had sustained, to the deceased’s great faithfulness and the keen interest which he took in the work of the management committee of the church, of which he was a life member. References to Mr Cock’s death were also made at the Sunday School, in which he had been deeply interested.

canister main photo

In the summer of 2004 divers (see below) Steve Cowley and Dave Copley, assisted by Adrian Corkill, dived the wreck of the steamship Dundalk 17 nautical miles south off Port St Mary. The wreck lies in approximately 60 metres of water so the divers were using trimix to safely dive this sort of range. The shot landed about midships and despite the dark and low visibility condition, the two divers made a complete inspection of the wreck. She was so shattered by the torpedo attack that she sank instantly. The wreck is largely upright and intact but aft of the boiler the hull is split, caused by the massive torpedo explosion and the stern section is angled at 45 degrees. The ship’s gun was seen to one side, lying on the seabed. The boiler was large – more than 6 metres in diameter. The cargo holds are empty and the bow section is quite flat. Large lobsters and congers were noted; but the most notable feature was the abundance of marine animals attached to the wreck, which appears white out of the gloom.

The dive team

The dive team


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Flint Memorial

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