Date of birth: 1876
Place of birth: Southampton
Service 1: private in 5th battalion Hampshire Regiment (3779) between 19th November 1915 and 12th August 1916
Service 2a: private in 13th battalion Royal Berkshire regiment (31213) between 12th August 1916 and 9th May 1917
Service 2b: private in labour corps (97941) from 9th May 1917 until his death
Died: 5th July 1917 aged 41
The service record of Edwin James Cooper has survived in full, if not a little damaged. He signed up for service for the duration of the war aged 39 on 19th November 1915 in Southampton. He was 5ft 4 inches tall and weighed 136 lbs (8 ½ stone). He was earning a living as a labourer but has slight varicose veins. At the time he was living at 157 Priory Road with his parents.
On enrolment he was a private in 5th Battalion of the Territorial Force Hampshire Regiment (service number 3779) between 19th November 1915 and 12th August 1916 deployed in Mesopotamia and Persia.
Between 12th August 1916 and 9th May 1917 he transferred as private to 13th (Labour) battalion Royal Berkshire regiment (31213). The 13th Battalion was formed in Cosham in July 1916 and moved to France on 21 September 1916. From 9th May 1917 his battalion became the 164th Labour Company of the Labour Corps (service number 97941) where he remained until his death on 5th July 1917 aged 41. He served for a total of 1 year and 102 days.
On 28th September 1917 His parents received 1 letter being his personal effects. He was posthumously awarded the Victory medal and the British medal in recognition of his services to his country and is inscribed on the cenotaph at Southampton “lest we forget”. He was amongst the first to be buried in the newly opened Gwalia British Cemetery, Belgium which was opened at the beginning of July 1917, in the period between the Battle of Messines and the Third Battle of Ypres. There is only 1 burial recorded against the labour corps. His grave reference is I A 2.
The British War Medal was awarded for service in World War One. Also called the British Empire campaign medal. The medal was automatically awarded in the event of death on active service. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Squeak’.
The Victory medal, also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal was awarded to those who received the British War Medal. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Wilfred’.
Life before the war
Edwin James cooper was born in 1876 in Southampton, 3rd child of Cecil W Cooper a carman born 1852, and wife Selina nee Chalcraft born in 1853. His parents had married in the summer of 1871. Their marriage was registered in South Stoneham, Hampshire district vol2c page114.
They had a total of twelve children but by 1911 three had died in infancy.
The following children of Cecil and Selina Cooper are confirmed from parish records:
- Elizabeth was born in 1872 (not on any census after 1881, no confirmable death found)
- John was born in 1874
- Edwin James was born in 1876
- Alice was born in 1879. (not on any census after 1881, no confirmable death found)
- Lydia was born in 1881. In 1903 she married Henry Singleton in Preston.
- Cecil William was born in 1883.
- Daisy Selina was born in 1885. In 1907 she married Herbert Ward.
- Florence E was born in 1890. In 1911 she married George C Penny.
- Agnes Kate was born in 1893. By 1917 she was married to Mr Goblins.
- Nelly was born in 1896
- Dorothy was born in 1900.
In 1881 the family lived at 29 Amoy Street. Father Cecil was employed as a ‘fly awed?’ (handwriting difficult); Edwin James was at school.
In 1891 the family lived at 4 Thatcham Cottages, Ivy Road. His father was a baker; Edwin James was not yet employed.
In 1901 the family lived at 133 Priory Road, Southampton. Father Cecil was employed as a general carman for the corporation; Edwin James was employed as a labourer.
In 1911 the family lived at 157 Priory Road (they may have been in the same house, just numbered differently as the area was developed and more homes built.) Father Cecil was a carman for Southampton corporation, Edwin (Edward) was a self employed jobbing labourer.
His father Cecil died in Southampton in 1926 aged 74.
His mother Selina died in Southampton in 1932 aged 79.