Herbert Leonard Cooper (1880-1916) – 2Lt 7th Bn Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own)Herbert Leonard Cooperwas theeldest son of Charles and Hannah Cooper (nee Ratcliffe), born 12thNovember 1880 in Kentish Town. He had two siblings - Harold Ratcliffe (b 17thNovember 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 1st/7thTerritorial Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment (Pte R/850) shortly after the Battalion was raised in August 1914 and was soon posted to the 2nd/8thBattalion 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 1stFebruary 1915 Herbert was posted with the 2nd/8thMiddlesex to Gibraltar before returning to England with the Regiment at the end of the month. Four months later, on the 3rdJune he was commissioned 2ndLieutenant for the 8thBn 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 7thMiddlesex and, after a year training with home based units, was sent to France in August 1916. The 1st/7thMiddlesex Regiment actually served in France from April 1915 but it is not until the 17thAugust 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 15th. 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 13thand 14thSeptember offered some small respite but then, on the 15thSeptember 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 2nd Lieutenant Herbert Leonard Cooper. He had been at the front for just 29 days.An article in the West Sussex County Times for 30thSeptember 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 25thSeptember 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.