Tees

Memorial stone unveiled for WW1 hero Sgt Edward Cooper

Sgt Edward Cooer Image copyright Cooper family
Image caption Sgt Cooper missed only one Remembrance Day commemoration in 68 years

A memorial stone has been unveiled to mark the 100th anniversary of the bravery of a Word War One hero.

Armed with just a revolver, Sergeant Edward Cooper single-handedly stormed an enemy blockhouse during the Battle of Langemark in Belgian Flanders.

Sgt Cooper made them think they were surrounded and took 45 prisoners.

A stone has now been unveiled at the cenotaph next to Stockton Parish Church to mark a century since his heroism.

Image caption A stone was unveiled at the cenotaph next to Stockton Parish Church to mark a century since Sgt Cooper's heroism

The ceremony was led by the Chaplain to the Durham Light Infantry Association, the Reverend Kenneth Crawford.

Sgt Cooper, from Stockton, was only 21 when he showed the "most conspicuous bravery and initiative", on 16 August 1917 near Ypres.

His unit, the 12th Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps, was under heavy machine gun fire from a concrete blockhouse, causing a number of casualties and holding up the advance of his comrades on his left.

Courage

His Victoria Cross citation read: "Sgt Cooper, with four men, immediate rushed towards the blockhouse, though heavily fired on. About 100 yards distant he ordered his men to lie down and fire.

"Finding this did not silence the machine guns, immediately he rushed forward straight at them and fired his revolver into an opening in the blockhouse. The machine guns ceased firing and the garrison surrendered.

"By this magnificent act of courage he undoubtedly saved what might have been a serious check to the whole advance, at the same time saving a great number of lives."

Seven machine guns and 45 prisoners were captured.

Image caption Sgt Cooper made the enemy think they were surrounded by single-handedly firing shots and he took 45 prisoners

Stockton mayor, councillor Maurice Perry, said: "It was a real privilege to have been present for the service to dedicate a memorial stone to honour one of the borough's most courageous men.

"It is only right that his memory is being commemorated in such a way befitting a war hero who sacrificed so much for his country."

After the war, Sgt Cooper returned to Stockton and married Iris. The couple had three sons, eight grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

He became manager at the Co-Op in the town but the family lived in Thornaby until his retirement.

He missed only one Remembrance Day commemoration in 68 years until his death in 1985 at the age of 89.

Image caption Sgt Cooper was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V

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