|Source||CWGC Archive, 23286, Cockerell D.B., 31/12/1919 - 29/11/1945; CWGC Archive, SDC 18, Cemetery Registers, 10/2/1919 - 30/9/1920; CWGC Archive, SDC 6, Letters From Commissioners and Advisers, 10/9/1917 - 3/1/1922; WG 1866, Canadian Book of Remembrance, 5/12/1931-22/1/1943|
|Biographical Note||Douglas Bennett Cockerell MBE RDI was an English bookbinder, teacher and the Commission’s Technical Adviser on Cemetery Registers and Joint Director of Records.|
He was born on 5 August 1870 in Sydenham Hill, London. He was the younger brother of Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell (1867-1962), a museum curator and collector. Douglas Cockerell was educated at St. Pauls and was first married to Florence Arundel in 1898 but she passed away in 1921. He remarried in 1914 to Bessie Marion Gifford.
Following the early death of his father, Cockerell and his four brothers had to leave St. Paul’s School. Douglas worked in the Imperial Bank of Canada between 1885 and 1890. He went on to manage a branch in the Far West, in shirt sleeves and with a revolver on his desk.
From 1893 until 1898, Cockerell went into bookbinding under T.J. Cobden-Sanderson in bookbinding, spending first two of the five years at the Doves Bindery where he was brought into contact with William Morris, to whom his brother, Sydney, was secretary. Douglas worked on many bindings of rare manuscripts, especially for the libraries of Oxford and Cambridge. Douglas Cockerell then opened his own bindery firstly in London in 1898 and then in Ewell. In 1904, he was Controller of W.H. Smith and Son’s binding workshops and moved his own bindery to Letchworth. He then worked for the Ministry of Munitions in 1914, handing out the sundry components that made up Handley-Page bombers, which he had to ensure were resupplied to new temporary aerodromes. He was made an M.B.E.
After the First World War, Cockerell was appointed as Technical Adviser on printing and binding to the Imperial War Graves Commission and oversaw the task of printing and binding the registers found in each cemetery. Cockerell was determined that a register should be more than mere lists of names: the names should have a context. Each register was to include an illustration of the cemetery, a map of the area, and an account of the fighting which had produced the graves and a description of the cemetery and its setting.
Cockerell also contributed the idea of using a machine to rough out lettering and designs on headstones, similar to those used for duplicating wood carving.
Between the wars, Cockerell was renowned for repairing and binding the Codex Sinaiticus ("Sinai Bible") at the British Museum.
During the Second World War, Cockerell worked on binding the Commission’s draft lists of Civilian War Dead. He brought his son Sydney M. Cockerell into partnership and Roger Powell, who succeeded in keeping the bindery open during the war and then bound the Commission’s Civilian War Dead Rolls of Honour which are now held at Westminster Abbey.
Cockerell was also a teacher for the L.C.C. Central School of Arts and Crafts, Lecturer to School of Librarianship, University College, and teacher at the Royal College of Art until his retirement in 1944. His publications on bookbinding included 'Bookbinding and the Carer of Books' (1901) and 'Some notes of Bookbinding' (1929).
Douglas Cockerell MBE RDI died on 25 November 1945 in Letchworth, Hertfordshire.