Photo with kind permission of Pierre Vandervelden www.inmemories.com
CLEMENT HENRY COOPER was born in Alfold in 1894, the second son of John & Mary Cooper and brother of Archibald (born 1892), Ernest (born 1896) and Lillian (born 1900). In 1901 the family were living in Lower Hill House, Rudgwick and by 1911 had moved to Keepers Cottage, Rudgwick.
Clement enlisted for service in Horsham. His personal service records appear to have been destroyed in the Blitz of the Second World War, however surviving documents indicate that he arrived in France for service with the British Expeditionary Force on 12th May 1916.
TO FRANCE WITH THE ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
He served as a gunner with 'B' Battery of 52nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, which was and element of 9th (Scottish) Division. The division had been formed and based in Bordon in September 1914, and moved to France between the 9th - 12th May 1915. In 1915 Clement and his unit had had taken part in the Battle of Loos, which commenced on 25th September 1915.
The 52nd Brigade comprised of four batteries of six 18-pounder field guns, each manned in action by a crew of 6 gunners. Each gun had a further 4 crew members who were responsible for ammunition supply to the gun, but in action remained behind the gun line. The gun was attached to an ammunition limber for travel, and drawn by a team of six horses in three pairs. The guns fired an 18.5 lb shell (3.3 inches calibre) 6,525 yards (5,966 m) at a maximum rate of 20 rounds per minute (4 rounds per minute if firing over a sustained period. The range of the gun was increased by digging in it's towing arm which allowed the breach to be lowered further. Later in the war the towing arm was re designed to allow the breach to be lowered without obstruction, hence increasing range.
18 pdr gun crew in action, the two men on the far side are attending to the ammunition limber.
The range of the 18-pdr gun meant that it remained close to the trenches when in action, even when firing at targets indirectly (firing at an unseen target with fall of shot being corrected by observers). This meant that the crews were vulnerable to counter battery fire from enemy artillery.
In June 1916 the 9th (Scottish) Division was preparing for the forthcoming Battle of the Somme. It's divisional artillery was involved with the pre battle 5 day artillery bombardment (this was extended by a further 2 days). This commenced on 24th July 1916, with the 18-pdr guns being allocated to wire cutting with shrapnel shells, and assisting in neutralising the enemy trenches and known strongpoints. The following day, 25th June 1916, Gunner Clement Henry Cooper was killed in action.
The unit was located on a spur to the west of Maricourt and were registered on the German position of Glatz Redoubt (south west of the Briqueterie at Montauban), where they were endeavouring to cut the wire. This position was almost the most southerly position held by the British, before the front line was taken over by French forces. In his memoirs "A Subaltern's Odyssey", Lt R. B. Talbot Kelly, an officer with Clement's brigade, describes how he spent the days preceding the barrage transporting ammunition on it's eight mile journey from the dumps along the long road to Maricourt, to the brigade's position. "Our guns stood on a little hill which fell steeply away on the right into the Suzanne valley."
Clement was laid to rest in Maricourt Military Cemetery, at the south eastern corner of the village of Maricourt, on the road to Clery. Following the Armistice the British graves in this cemetery were moved to Cerisy-Gailly Military Cemetery. He was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He is also remembered on the Loxwood Parish War Memorial in St John the Baptist church, Loxwood.
Gunner Clement Cooper's Medal Record Card
Loxwood Parish War Memorial, Sussex
1901,1911 Census Returns
Soldiers' Medal Record Cards
Soldiers Died in the Great War
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
'A Subaltern's Odyssey' R B Talbot-Kelly ISBN 07183 0247 8