Harold COOPER
Rank: Private
Number: 39782
Unit: 5th Battalion SOUTH WALES BORDERERS
Date of Death: 6 May 1917
Age: 21
Cemetery: Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery, Vlamertinge, Belgium

Harold and his two older siblings, Elizabeth and Sydney, were born in Hyde, the children of Wright and Francis Cooper. Wright was a successful coal dealer and, when the census was taken in 1901, the family was living at Peel House, Peel Street, Godley.

Some time later, Mr Cooper sold his business and moved to High Lane where he bought Lomber Hey Farm. He intended to spend his retirement in a house he had built there, whilst Harold ran the farm. They worshipped nearby at the Windlehurst Wesleyan Chapel. As a young adult, Harold spent much of his social time at the High Lane Liberal Club where he was a noted billiards player.

Harold enlisted into the army at Stockport in May 1916 and was assigned to the Monmouthshire Regiment for training (service number 4194). In the August, whilst still in training, he married Emily Bridge in a civil ceremony registered at Stockport and, the following month, went overseas on active service. It is probable that he was transferred to the Borderers within days of arrival in France as they will have been in greater need of replacements for casualties incurred during the early weeks of the Battle of the Somme.

The 5th Battalion of the Borderers was a Pioneer unit - comprised of men trained to fight as infantry but whose main role was in construction. During an attack, they would follow immediately behind the main waves of troops and undertake the process of consolidating the gains - building strongpoints and repairing damage to trenches. In quieter times, they would be involved in more general projects. On the day he was killed, Harold was serving with either "A" or "B" Company. They were working at the cavalry barracks near Ypres, improving and strengthening billets. The Battalion's War Diary, held at the National Archives, records that they were heavily shelled between 9am and noon and 21 men, including Harold, were killed.

In the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information. Emily Cooper had moved to 83 Welcomb Street, Hulme, Manchester.

Further information about Harold, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

   
           
   
     
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