Harry Charles Cooper in WW1

 

Walter and Emily Cooper family moved to Holywell sometime between 1891 and 1900. They had altogether 14 children of which three died before 1911. Walter, who had been a gentleman’s servant and coachman at Bartlow for many years, died in 1900 leaving his wife to bring up the younger children. In 1901 they were living in Holywell Rd where she was a laundress. In 1911 the address is Mill House and Harry was working as a farm labourer. His brother Hubert was invalided out and was living with his Mother and running the Manchester Arms when Harry was killed on the 18th April 1918.

He was a Lance Bombardier, number 741672, in 49th Battery, 40th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. This battery served on the Western Front throughout the war taking part in all the main battles from Mons through the Somme, all the Battles of Ypres and the retreats and advances of 1918. The use of artillery was critical throughout the war, softening up defensive lines before the infantry attacked, giving protective creeping barrages during the attack, breaking strongly held enemy defensive positions and delaying the advancing enemy during retreats. The artillery often found themselves ahead of the infantry and didn’t spend their war many miles behind the front line in safety. When in the rear they found themselves the target of enemy artillery.

It is estimated that during the war on the Western Front the British Artillery fired approximately 188 million shells of all calibres. The total for all sides was said to be 700 million.

The activity of the British Armies during the German advance was, to say the least, fluid and spontaneous. As an example the 3rd Division, of which Harry Cooper’s brigade was a part, during the month of April alone fought actions at Estaires, Hazebrouck and Bethune collectively known as the Battle of the Lys.

From 18th April Harry Cooper’s battery was located at the Southern end of the line of German Advance near Givenchy where the enemy were still trying to push through. The line however held, at a great loss to the British, including Harry Cooper.

British War Medal and Victory MedalPoppyHe died 18 Apr 1918 Age 30 (CWG Death 26/04/1918) and is buried at the Sandpits British Cemetery, Labeuvriere, near Bethune in France: grave 2, row B, plot 1 & St Ives Cross of Sacrifice. He received the Victory Medal and British War Medal.


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