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Herbert Leonard Cooper (1880-1916) – 2Lt 7 th  Bn Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own) Herbert   Leonard   Cooper    was   the    eldest   son   of   Charles   and   Hannah   Cooper   (nee   Ratcliffe),   born   12 th    November   1880   in   Kentish Town.      He   had   two   siblings   -   Harold   Ratcliffe   (b   17 th    November   1882)   and   Lillian   Edith   (b   1885).His   father   Charles   was   Headmaster   at Itchingfield   School   from   1903   to   1920   and   his   mother   Hannah   also   taught   there.   All   three   of   their   children   followed   them   into   teaching and   taught   at   the   school   for   at   least   part   of   their   careers.   By   1911   Herbert   had   moved   to   the   Archdeacon   Cambridge   Boys   School   in Twickenham   and   had   married   Helen   Louisa   Holmes.   The   1911   census   has   them   living   at   49   Grove   Avenue,   Twickenham   with   their   two young children. It   appears   that   Herbert   signed   up   with   the   1 st /7 th    Territorial   Battalion   of   the   Middlesex   Regiment   (Pte   R/850)   shortly   after   the   Battalion was   raised   in   August   1914   and   was   soon   posted   to   the   2 nd /8 th       Battalion   as   Acting   Corporal      3445.   At   the   same   time   we   know   from   the school   records   that   in   October   1914   he   moved   his   children   to   Itchingfield   under   the   custody   of   his   brother   Harold.   It   can   be   assumed therefore   firstly   that   his   wife   remained   in   Twickenham   and   secondly   that   his   brother   did   not   serve   –   not   surprising   as   he   was   by   now   the Headmaster of Loxwood school.    On   1 st    February   1915   Herbert   was   posted   with   the   2 nd /8 th    Middlesex   to   Gibraltar   before   returning   to   England   with   the   Regiment   at   the end   of   the   month.   Four   months   later,   on   the   3 rd    June   he   was   commissioned   2 nd    Lieutenant   for   the   8 th    Bn   Middlesex   Regiment,   which   ties in   well   with   the   period   required   for   training   in   an   Officer   Cadet   Battalion.   Such   training,   which   was   as   much   about   manners   and etiquette   as   it   was   strategy   and   leadership,   was   considered   essential      in   producing   the   “Temporary   Gentlemen”   needed   to   be   leaders   of the largely working class rank and file soldier. Shortly   after   being   commissioned   he   was   transferred   to   the   7 th    Middlesex   and,   after   a   year   training   with   home   based   units,   was   sent   to France   in   August   1916.   The   1 st /7 th    Middlesex   Regiment   actually   served   in   France   from   April   1915   but   it   is   not   until   the   17 th    August   1916 that   the   War   Diary   records   2Lt   H   L   Cooper   joining   the   Battalion   on   the   Somme   at   Finguevillers,   two   days   after   entering   France   on   the 15 th .   The   remainder   of   August   and   the   beginning   of   September   was   a   relatively   quiet   period   for   the   Battalion   with   time   being   given   over to   training   and   the   presentation   of   awards   but   all   of   this   changed   when   they   were   ordered   into   trenches   near   Wedge   Wood   and immediately   came   under   heavy   fire.   Two   days   of   rest   on   the   13 th    and   14 th    September   offered   some   small   respite   but   then,   on   the   15 th   September   at   6.20   in   the   morning   the   Battalion   began   a   full   scale   attack   on   the   enemy   trenches   at   Leuze   Wood.      Casualties   were   heavy. All four company commanders were lost as was 2 nd  Lieutenant Herbert Leonard Cooper. He had been at the front for just 29 days. An   article   in   the   West   Sussex   County   Times   for   30 th    September   1916   quoted   the   following   from   a   letter   of   condolence   from   Herbert’s commanding   officer   to   his   widow.   “He   died   a   very   gallant   death   leading   his   platoon   to   the   assault.   He   was   killed   instantly   and   so   can have   suffered   no   pain.   He   had   been   with   us   only   a   very   short   time,   but   he   gained   the   liking   and   respect   of   all,   and   his   country   can   ill spare his services. I beg you will accept in your great sorrow, the deepest sympathy of myself and my officers.” The   War   Diary   further   records   that   on   the   25 th    September   the   bodies   of   some   of   the   officers   killed,   including   that   of   Herbert,   were recovered   and   buried   in   the   north   east   corner   of   Leuze   Wood.   In   due   course   the   body   was   moved   to   a   formal   resting   place   in   Combles Communal   Cemetery   Extension   in   the   Somme.   For   his   service   Herbert   was   awarded   the   British   War   and   Victory   Medals.   His   1915 overseas   service   in   Gibraltar   did   not   entitle   him   to   the   1914/15   Star   as   Gibraltar   was   a   British   colony.I   t   is   known   from   the   Itchingfield School records that Herbert is remembered on a memorial in Twickenham but its actual location is not clear.
The Fallen