Private/2nd Lieutenant Horace Arthur Cooper MC. MID.
Commissioned as Private Cooper in the LeedsPals
Born. 18/7/1895, Tunstall, Staffs.
Died. Dibden Purlieu, Hampshire, Aged 76 on 28/12/1971.
Horace Arthur Cooper was the first of three children born to Arthur John and Fannie Louise Cooper (nee Heath) in Tunstall, Staffordshire. He was educated at Alderman Newton School, Leicester. Some time before the 1st World War the family moved to Leeds where Horace’s father was the Branch Manager of an insurance company.
When the Pals were raised in September 1914 Horace was one of the first to volunteer, his address at the time was 79 Queen Street, Morley, Leeds. After enlisting on 15/9/1914, he served with the "Pals" in 12 section, 15 platoon, D Company throughout their stay in Colsterdale, Egypt, and in France until shortly after the Somme offensive.
On the 1st July 1916 Horace and his fellow Pals of D company were "first over the top" but shortly after leaving the trenches Horace received a bullet wound to the head. After treatment at a Casualty clearing station behind the lines he was evacuated to a hospital in England. Many months later after recovering from his wound he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps where, after training as an Observer/Air Gunner he qualified as an Observer on 7th of June 1917 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 21st of June 1917.
He returned to combat in France as Flying Officer (Observer) on the 28th September 1917 being posted to 48 Squadron. There he flew a Bristol Fighter F.2b aircraft ( Brisfits) as Observer/Gunner with Captain N. C. Millman and Captain R.Dodds, both of whom were experienced Canadian pilots (from Toronto and Hamilton respectively). Most of the time they were flying over enemy lines photographing German positions where ground fire and awaiting enemy aircraft were constant threats.
Millman and Cooper formed a formidable partnership in the air and finished the war as "Aces". On 1st March 1918, in Brisfit Number B1190, they were in combat with a number of Albatros C's, two being sent down out of control within half an hour. The pair made another claim on 8th March in the same aircraft when two Albatros DV’s were sent down out of control over Bohain.
The award of their Military Crosses was announced in the London Gazette on 27 June 1918. Millman gained 6 Victories - Cooper shared five of them with him (and one with Dodds) making him a two-seater fighter 'Ace'. Millman and Cooper both returned to the Home Establishment on 22 March 1918 where Cooper trained as a pilot and Millman became Flying Instructor, however neither of them flew operationally again. Millman was later awarded the Air Force Cross.
Dodds became a Flight Commander in 48 Sqn. and early in 1918 won the Military Cross; he was credited with 11 victories, 3 of them on 8th March, the same day as Millman and Cooper had claimed 2!
After serving with the Royal Air Force in Germany until 1920 Horace returned to civilian life. In 1926 he married Lillian Annie Whittaker and for many years ran a smallholding, he later moved into Insurance but could not settle. In 1935 the family moved to Bristol where Horace worked for the Bristol Aeroplane Company during the Second World War. (This Company also made the Bristol Fighter F.2b aircraft in which he had flown during the First World War!)
He died at his son’s house in Dibden Purlieu, Hampshire, Aged 76 on 28/12/1971.
We are indebted to his family for supplying family background and donating the photographs on this page.