Ernest Cooper Goes To War

This is the story of my father's younger brother, Ernest Edward Cooper, who was born to a small family at 30 Ferrers Road, Streatham, London on 13 November 1896. His parents were Willie Bray Cooper (Snr) and Annie Berry, both born in London. His brother was born in 1993 and his sister, Ellen Agnes Cooper, born in 1899.

His father had served in the British Army in Ireland and his elder brother, Willie Bray Cooper(Jnr), my father, joined the Royal Artillery in 1910 and had been posted to Afghanistan and was to take part in what was described as the Third Afghan War in 1919.

Ernest joined the 1st Battallion East Surrey Regiment and his Regimental Number was 7007, but unfortunately, when he joined and any other details of his Army service are not known as many Army personal records were destroyed during a bombing raid on London, in World War 2.

Mobilization and Embarkation to France

Mobilization Of 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment(Click to view)

Ernest Cooper was killed in action on Tuesday, 8th May 1917, when a German counter-attack captured the village of Fresnoy, France. This offensive took place shortly after the USA declared war on Germany, 6th April 1917, and the third battle of Ypres on 31 July 1917.


A small farming village situated 9 miles (14.5 km) northeast of Arras, at the junction of the D919 and the D33 roads. Fresnoy was virtually destroyed in 1917 during the First World War.
After their successes in the spring campaigns (including the taking of Vimy Ridge), the Canadians and British pushed eastwards across open country until they reached German defence lines that, in this sector, ran north to south from Arleux, on to Oppy and then down to Gavrelle. Following a successful push by the Canadians through Arleux in late April, German positions in and around Fresnoy became the scene of fierce fighting on April 28, 1917. A few weeks later, on May 5, the Canadians managed to capture the village. It was lost, however, when ferocious German counterattacks were launched on May 7 and pushed the Canadians and British back. The frontline then stabilised just outside the village. It was at about this time that Ernest was killed.

A Report was written at the time giving a description of the Orders that were given and the action that took place. These are contained in the War Diaries of the 1st Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. The battle involved a number of units of the British and Canadian Armies. The abbreviations of the British Regiments shown in the report are:-
D.C.L.I. - Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry
K.O.S.B. - Kings Own Scottish Borderers

Memorial to the death of Ernest Cooper(Click to view)

Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL, Pas de Calais, France
Grave Reference/
Panel Number: Bay 6

Location of Memorial: The Arras Memorial is in the Faubourg-d'Amiens Cemetery, which is in the Boulevard du General de Gaulle in the western part of the town of Arras. The cemetery is near the Citadel, approximately 2 kilometres due west of the railway station. The Memorial commemorates almost 35,000 casualties of the British, New Zealand and South African Forces who died between Spring 1916 and 7th August 1918, with the exception of casualties of the Battle of Cambrai in 1917, and who have no known grave


Photo of Ernest Edward in uniform (standing) with friend
Note : on rear of photo "My brother, standing up - killed in France in 1917. E.Surrey Regt"

Photo of Ernest Cooper(Click to view)

Medals awarded to Ernest were The Victory Medal and The British Medal (Click to view)

Copy of 1901 Census - showing family and Cousins (Click to view)

War Diary giving details of the Battalion's movements etc on the day that he died

War Diary and Report concerning the day of Ernest's death(Click to view)