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Major John Cook VC, 5th Gurkha Rifles, 1879

Photograph, 2nd Afghan War (1878-1880), 1879.

On arriving in India in 1861, Cook (1843-1879) was posted to the 3rd Sikhs. He was mentioned in despatches for his services in the Umbeyla Campaign of 1863-1864 and then served as adjutant of his regiment in the Hazara Expedition of 1868. After being promoted to captain in 1872 Cook transferred to the 5th Gurkhas. He won the Victoria Cross (VC) in Afghanistan in December 1878. According to 'The London Gazette' of 18 March 1879:

'For a signal act of valour at the action of the Peiwar Kotal on the 2nd December, 1878, in having, during a very heavy, fire, charged out of the entrenchments with such impetuosity that the enemy broke and fled, when, perceiving, at the close of the melee, the danger of Major Galbraith, Assistant Adjutant-General, Kurum Column Field Force, who was in personal conflict with an Afghan soldier, Captain Cook distracted his attention to himself, and aiming a sword cut which the Douranee avoided, sprang upon him, and, grasping his throat, grappled with him. They both fell to the ground. The Douranee, a most powerful man, still endeavouring to use his rifle, seized Captain Cook's arm in his teeth until the struggle was ended by the man being shot through the head'.

Cook was later promoted to major but was killed in action at Sherpur on 19 December 1879.

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1975-04-73-1


National Army Museum Copyright


National Army Museum, Study collection

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