Private 11449 William Cooper

Cooper William 11449 96 414x600

Killed in Action on Saturday, 23rd March 1918, age 34.
Buried in Grave C. 14. at Beaumetz Cross Roads Cemetery, Beaumetz-Les-Cambrai, Pas De Calais, France.

10th Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment. 57th Brigade of 19th Division.

Son of Thomas Cooper.
Born: West Bromwich, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Horseley Heath.

First landed France & Flanders, 31st July 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/267165/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
39 Sheepwash Lane, Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Cooper (43, Ironworks Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Eliza (38, born Tipton), and their 1 child: William (16, born Newtown, West Bromwich).

1911 Census
2 Leech Street, Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs.
Lodging with Joseph and Mary Haycock and their 6 children was:
William Cooper (26, Lodger, Bolter-down in Ironworks, born West Bromwich).

Personal Data

After WIlliam's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £8/17/0d (8 pounds and 17 shillings); this was paid to his aunt, Sarah J. Coley, in June 1920. His War Gratuity was £17/0/0d (17 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his aunt in June 1920. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that WIlliam had enlisted in August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

On 21st March 1918, at the commencement of the German Spring Offensive (Operation Michael), the 10th Warwicks were near Barastre, some 3 miles south-east of Bapaume. The Germans advancing west along the Cambrai-Bapaume road took the villages of Louverval and Doignies; 57th Brigade was ordered to re-take the villages. 57th Brigade of 19th (Western) Division consisted of the 10th Royal Warwicks, 8th Gloucesters and 10th Worcesters.

On the 21st, Doignies was entered by the 8th Gloucesters but it could not be held; further British attacks followed on the 22nd but without success. The 10th Royal Warwicks had been holding trenches east of Beaumetz-les-Cambrai facing Doignies.

On the 23d March, after heavy German barrage fire, great waves of the German infantry advanced to attack from Doignies in the direction of Bapaume. Outnumbered, 57th Brigade began a fighting withdrawal. With the advancing Germans threatening to envelop 57th Brigade on both flanks, the battalion commanders decided to fall back to a railway embankment east of Velu. After midday, this new position was again almost surrounded and further defence was considered pointless. 57th Brigade withdrew by companies as best they could with the enemy pressing in upon them from three sides. The withdrawal continued for another mile until they reached trenches west of Beugny where other troops of 19th Division were able to stem the tide for the remainder of that day. One complete platoon of the 8th Gloucesters and one of the 10th Royal Warwicks had been cut off and overwhelmed.

Captain Julian Gribble of the 10th Royal Warwicks won the Victoria Cross on March 23rd, his citation reads:
"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. Capt. Gribble was in command of the right company of the battalion when the enemy attacked, and his orders were to ' hold on to the last.' His company was eventually entirely isolated, though he could easily have withdrawn them at one period when the rest of the battalion on his left were driven back to a secondary position. His right flank was ' in the air,' owing to the withdrawal of all troops of a neighbouring division. By means of a runner to the company on his left rear he intimated his determination to hold on until other orders were received from battalion headquarters - and this he inspired his command to accomplish. His company was eventually surrounded by the enemy at close range, and he was seen fighting to the last. His subsequent fate is unknown. By his splendid example of grit, Capt. Gribble was materially instrumental in preventing for some hours the enemy obtaining a complete mastery of the crest of ridge, and by his magnificent self-sacrifice he enabled the remainder of his own brigade to be withdrawn, as well as another garrison and three batteries of field artillery." London Gazette, 25 June 1918.

Capt. Gribble was taken prisoner and died in Germany of his wounds, aged 21, on 25th November 1918.

William Cooper was killed in action on 23rd March, possibly as the Germans surrounded Gribble's Company of the 10th Warwicks. He is buried at Beaumetz Cross Roads Cemetery, Beaumetz-Les-Cambrai.

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