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gilly100

Brig Gen Cuthbert Lucas with CEW Bean and a story told

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gilly100   
gilly100

I was trawling the Beans Diaries and notebooks and came across the very interesting account told by Brig Gen Lucas concerning a man in his brigade, the 87th. A great story and wondering if anyone can verify it. Bean wrote this on 12 November 1915 while at Imbros where Lucas then was, waiting to return or go to Helles.

 

"While waiting for the trawler at Imbros the other day I noticed a young staff officer with magnificent broad shoulders and fine open face -with generals crossed swords on his shoulders. He was going to Helles. I was told he was Brig Gen Lucas commanding 87 Brigade (29 Div). He can't have been more than 40, possibly 35 (actually 36 at time my words). And he is exactly the stamp of man for a brigadier. He told another officer (in his brigade) of an adventure that occurred two days before of a man in a Scottish Regt (KOSB or Border Regt?) who had his wife and 2 children sunk in the Lusitania. He jumped out of the trenches in the early morning and walked across to the Turkish trench and got in on top of the Turks all having their breakfast or otherwise engaged. They were too slow to shoot him: He shot three, one came at him from behind and he bayonetted him. He then seemed to have decided that he can't be meant to die and so began to get out. In doing so he had a rough and tumble with two more Turks and killed them. Then somehow he despatched a third. He was then getting out of the trench. He walked to his own trench - the Turks firing wildly at him and exposing themselves so that four more are said to have been shot by the Scotsmen who were covering his retreat.... He was then run in. They can't well punish him, but I don't think he'll get a VC because soldiers not in orders in getting out of trenches and attacking Turks unless they are told to do so."

 

A fair old yarn I would be interested in knowing the veracity of. It must have happened in early November. 

 

Cheers

Ian

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michaeldr   
michaeldr

Good morning Ian,

 

Westlake relates the following for the 1st Battalion, The Border Regiment, in his British Regiments at Gallipoli - see p.132

 

"War Diary notes action (8th November 1915) of Sergeant J. Cooper who having instructed the men on his right and left to cease firing, climed over the parapet and ran towardes the enemy. Having covered some 120 yards to the Turkish parapet, he. . . . 'coolly emptied his magazine into the trench below him.' Sergeant Cooper returned to his line unhurt and reported that he had shot five of the enemy."

 

Perhaps there are more details in a battalion history?

 

A great story which I do not recall hearing before: thanks for bringing it to our attention

 

best regards

Michael

 

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michaeldr   
michaeldr

The 87th Infantry Brigade WD has some further details including

 

November 8 – 08:35

“Sergt Cooper 1st Border Regt who was in the firing line suddenly told the men on either side of him to stop shooting and jumping over the parapet ran quickly over to the enemy's trench about 120 yards. He was then seen to stand on the enemy's parapet and cooly empty his magazine into the trench below him. He then ran quickly back to our trench and jumped in unhurt. He was out in front 3 or 4 minutes. His retreat back was covered by our own men firing rapid at the Turks who had by then manned their trench and several were seen bobbing up waist high. Sergt Cooper reports having shot 5 Turks, 3 of them being at breakfast just below him and 2 a few yards to the right. The Coy. Covering Sergt Cooper's retreat claim several hits in addition.

 

It transpired later on enquiries being made that Sergt. Cooper lost his family in the sinking of the SS Lusitania. He had been brooding on this, and in his own words he had been up in the trenches for the last four days, and not having killed a Turk he wanted to get a bit of his own back.”

 

see WO/95/4311 image ref 406 [p.123 of the NA's pdf]

Edited by michaeldr

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michaeldr   
michaeldr

The Battalion WD has pretty much the same story

“No. 18799 Sgt J Cooper, a Sergeant in our right Company in the Firing Line suddenly told the men on either side of him to stop shooting leapt over the parapet and ran quickly over to the enemy's trenches about 120 yards away. He was then seen to stand on the Enemy's parapet & coolly empty his magazine into the trench below him. He then ran quickly back to our trenches & le4aped in quite unhurt. His retreat to our trench was covered by the men firing rapid at the Turks who had by then manned their Trench, several bobbing up waist high. Sergt Cooper reports having shot 5 Turks in their trench, 3 of them being at breakfast just below him and 2 a few yards to his right.”

 

WO/95/4311 image ref 407 [p.49 of NA's pdf]

 

edit to add: there is also a note saying that Lt Col A E StJ Pollard took over the brigade until 9th Nov

which would coincide with the Brigadier being off the peninsula and on Imbros as related in your op

 

Edited by michaeldr

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michaeldr   
michaeldr

I can't find 18799 Sgt J Cooper on the CWGC site, so it looks like he survived the war

I wonder if he got an award?

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johnboy   
johnboy

Would an officer had had a bayonet?

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alantwo   
alantwo

The MIC has 18799 Private James COOPER 1/Border Regiment DCM and MM

 

Regards

Alan

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michaeldr   
michaeldr

Many thanks for checking that Alan

Gongs are no substitute for a drowned family

but nevertheless he was obviously a very brave man 

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gilly100   
gilly100

Thanks so much Michael and Alan. I'm chuffed Bean got the story and chose to put it on paper. Great work on the research as always. I was just too lazy and knew someone good would bob up. Too busy finding more mg stories at the Landing! More to come in due course naturally.

One has to hand it to Bean, he was everywhere! And of course Cooper. Quite a soldier!.

Cheers

Ian

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helpjpl   
helpjpl

James Isaac Cooper:  Son of Anthony Cooper and Jane Willis Cooper nee Daniels.

Born:  15 January 1881, Burnley, Lancashire.

Baptised:  20 March 1881, Holy Trinity

Arrived in New York:  04 February 1910 (Mauretania)

Married: 22 April 1914, New Bedford, Massachusetts

Spouse:  Nellie Elizabeth Thorpe (32), born England. Daughter of Joseph Thorpe and Harriet Thorpe nee Watts.

Son:  Joseph Ernest Cooper. Born 16 January 1915, New Bedford, Massachusetts.

 

Nellie and Joseph travelled 3rd class on the Lusitania. Their bodies, if recovered, were not identified.

http://www.rmslusitania.info/people/lusitania-victims/

 

JP

Edited by helpjpl

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gilly100   
gilly100

Thanks JP

That adds the other dimension that seems to have triggered the event taking place. I just marvel at what Charles Bean managed to record during the Great War. When one reads through his diaries, with so many individual soldiers mentioned, it really was a remarkable effort, as was Cooper's of course. Am sure more will turn up. I know he spoke to Allanson of the Gurkhas and various other officers outside the AIF.

cheers

Ian

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alantwo   
alantwo
4 hours ago, michaeldr said:

Many thanks for checking that Alan

Gongs are no substitute for a drowned family

but nevertheless he was obviously a very brave man 

 

Michael

 

I could not agree more.

 

Regards

Alan

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Stebie9173   
Stebie9173

I have just got back from a WFA meeting where Steve Warburton spoke about Brigadier Lucas (about Cambrai, though he has done one on Lucas as a whole). Lucas kept copious diaries which survive. See Steve's posts from the diaries here:

 

https://plus.google.com/103339968404326982458

 

Lucas mentions Cooper in his diaries (apparently one of the few occasions that individuals were mentioned). 

 

http://gallipolifirstandlast.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/november-8th-1915-full-diary-entry.html

 

 

Edited by Stebie9173

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josquin   
josquin

The BMD has a death registry listing for a James I. Cooper at Birmingham in the 4th Quarter of 1942.

His age at last birthday was listed as 61, indicating an 1881 birthdate, so this may be the same man.

Josquin

 

 

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michaeldr   
michaeldr
6 hours ago, Stebie9173 said:

Lucas mentions Cooper in his diaries (apparently one of the few occasions that individuals were mentioned). 

http://gallipolifirstandlast.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/november-8th-1915-full-diary-entry.html

 

Stebie,

 

Thanks for the links

It's interesting that Sgt Cooper's actions were considered so unusual that "He was medically examined during the day and reported to be quite sane. He was put under arrest but released later."

 

regards

Michael

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helpjpl   
helpjpl

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