Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Town Celebrates the Courage of Its Soldiers

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Town Celebrates the Courage of Its Soldiers

Article excerpt

ARMED with only a revolver, Edward Cooper single-handedly stormed an enemy blockhouse.

He silenced the machine guns inside, taking 45 prisoners and winning himself his country's finest honour - the Victoria Cross. Now, almost 100 years on, his bravery is being recognised in his Teesside home town.

A plaque to those from Thornaby who fought in the First World War is being unveiled, and Edward's proud grandaughter will share his story.

Liz Bell, 66, a retired Newcastle primary school teacher who lives near Gateshead, said her grandfather "was a very brave yet quiet and gentle man".

She said: "My grandfather lived into his 80s and I therefore knew him well.

"It was only as I grew up that I gradually discovered what he had done in the First World War and what a brave man he was.

"He was quite humorous and a very loving man. He was also a quiet and gentle man in both senses of that word."

Edward Cooper, known as Ted or Ned to friends, was born in Stockton in 1896, one of three sons and six daughters of a millwright.

Leaving school at 13, he started work as an errand boy at his uncle's butchers shop, then as an assistant at the local Co-op, earning three shillings and sixpence a week.

Soon after the war broke out in August 1914, Ted joined up, lying about his age to be accepted.

He was just 21 and a sergeant in the 12th Battalion, The Kings' Royal Rifle Regiment when he earned his place in military history.

He won the Victoria Cross on August 16, 1917 at the bloody battle of Langemark.

The citation reads: "For most conspicuous bravery and initiative in attack. Enemy machine guns from a concrete blockhouse, 250 yards away, were holding up the advance of the battalion on his left, and were also causing heavy casualties to his own battalion. "Sgt Cooper, with four men, immediately rushed towards the blockhouse, though heavily fired on. …

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