Richard John Price COOPER


COOPER, Richard John Price

Service Number: 1123A
Enlisted: 3 March 1916, An original of D Company
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 37th Infantry Battalion
Born: Wolstanton, Staffordshire, England, April 1880
Home Town: Geelong West, Greater Geelong, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Soldier
Died: Killed In Action, Houplines, France, 28 January 1917
Cemetery: Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres
Plot III, Row E, Grave 28.
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World War 1 Service

3 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 1123A, 37th Infantry Battalion, An original of D Company
3 Jun 1916: Involvement Lance Corporal, SN 1123A, 37th Infantry Battalion
3 Jun 1916: Embarked Lance Corporal, SN 1123A, 37th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Persic, Melbourne

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Biography contributed by Stephen Brooks

Richard John Price Cooper enlisted in Wangaratta on 3 March 1916 as a single man under the name of Clyde John Hooper, age 35. He listed his sister in England as his next of kin. Born in England, he stated he had served for seven years in the Kings Royal Rifles, with several years on active service in the South African War.

Cooper left Australia with the regimental number of 1123A which was shortly after changed to 1562. In December 1916 he by sworn declaration had assumed his true name as Richard John Price Cooper. This was probably in response to enquiries from his wife, Margaret Ethel Cooper, whom he had suddenly left in Geelong West and enlisted without informing her of his intentions. She provided the AIF with her marriage certificate proving his real name and identity.

From his Red Cross Wounded and Missing file numerous witnesses stated Cooper was killed in action by shrapnel during a raid on the German trenches at Houplines by the 37th Battalion on 28 January 1917. The wire was not cut and casualties were heavy, the enemy machine guns opened fire whilst the raiders were trying to get over the wire and they did not get into the enemy trenches. Cooper was said to have been buried in the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery. 13 men from the unit were killed during this raid. Several also stated he was an old Boer War man and had been a Sergeant Major in the Liverpool camp near Sydney NSW. One witness stated that he had been reduced over the Liverpool riots of 1916 and this was the reason he had changed his name and enlisted as Hooper. He also said he was one of the smartest instructors in bayonet fighting in the camp.

Margaret Ethel Cooper wrote a final letter to AIF Base Records during November 1917 in which she said, ‘I wish to thank you all for your kindness to me during the time my husband was on active service and since his death. I caused the military authorities a great deal of trouble, owing to my husband enlisting and sailing, without my knowledge. He was a Staff Sergeant Major in N.S.W. and left his position, his home, and everything to do what he thought was his duty, and go to the front. All my enquiries have received prompt attention and I have never had cause for complaint, yours faithfully Margaret E. Cooper.’