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Sergeant Edward Cooper



12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps

Born:
4 May 1896, Portrack, Stockton on Tees, Co Durham.

Died:
19 August 1985, North Tees Hospital.

Buried:
Cremated 23 August 1985 at Teeside Crematorium.
Ashes scattered in August Plot

Enlisted:
3 September 1914.

CITATION

For most conspicuous bravery and initiative in attack on the 16th August 1917 at Langemarck, Flanders. Enemy machine guns from a concrete blockhouse, 250 yards away were holding up the advance of the battalion on his left and were also causing heavy casualties to his own battalion. Sergeant Cooper, with four men, immediately rushed the blockhouse though heavily fired on. About 100 yards distant he ordered his men to lie down and fire at the blockhouse. Finding this did not silence the machine guns, he immediately rushed forward straight at them and fired his revolver into an opening in the blockhouse. The machine guns ceased firing and the garrison surrendered. Seven machine guns and forty-five prisoners were captured in this blockhouse. By this magnificent act of courage he undoubtedly saved what might have been a serious check to the whole advance, at the same time saving a great number of lives.

Gazetted: 14 September 1917.

Investiture: 26 September 1917.
His Majesty the King at Buckingham Palace.

Other Decorations: Medaille Militaire (French) 10 September 1918.

Other Medals: 1914-15 Star, BW, VM, DM.
King George VI Coronation
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation.
Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee.

Location of Medals: Preston Hall Museum, Stockton on Tees.

Record of Service: 1914 - 1919.

Personal:
The son of William Edward Cooper and his wife Annie. He was educated at Bailey Street Council Schools and played football for the school team for two years and in local teams on leaving school. He was also fond of swimming. He was occupied as Assistant on a distributing fruit cart of the local Co-operative Society on the outbreak of the War but on 3 September 1914, enlisted in the Army and in the following July was drafted to France with the 12th King's Royal Rifle Corps. He was promoted Sergeant 13 March 1917. Langemarck, Flanders was the scene of the brave action which gained him the Victoria Cross. His own account is as follows: "When the advance was held up by concrete blockhouses in the village of Langemarck, I, along with a Lance-Corporal, who was wounded on reaching the blockhouse, rushed forward a distance of about 250 yards and forced the garrison of forty-four men and an officer to surrender, along with seven machine guns; and came out of the attack uninjured, after being buried on the 17 August 1917, along with five men, one of whom was dead when dug out." Major-General W. Douglas-Smith CB., wrote as follows: "The Major-General 20th (Light) division has received a report of the gallant conduct of R.2794 Sergt E. Cooper, 12th Battn K.R.R.C. On 10 August 1917, in silencing the enemy machine guns and helping to capture seven machine guns and forty prisoners near Langemarck, and he wishes to congratulate him on his fine behaviour." On the announcement of the award, Sergt Cooper's mother was asked if he had told her anything about his doings. "Oh no," she said, "he would never do that. He is not that kind of boy; he would be too much afraid that anyone would make a fuss about it. He writes regularly, but all we get to know from him is that he has been very busy." He was a good son and brother, conscientious and a lover of his home and was very popular among his friends. He was decorated by His Majesty the King, 26 September 1918. A local newspaper says: "Stockton is proud of its VC. It is claimed that in no part of the country has any particular locality responded more loyally to the call of the King than has the district of Portrack, Stockton, where whole streets of households represented in either the Army or Navy - nore particularly the Navy - and it is, therefore, most fitting that this high distinction should come to that part of the town." Nine out of the twelve VC's awarded in this Honours List fell to north-country men.

Commemoration:
1.  Bronze Plaque Stockton Library.
2.  Name on The King's Royal Rifle Corps Roll of Honour, Winchester Cathedral.

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