Cooper was born on 24th August 1881 in Islington North London. His
father was called Matthias.. no record of his mother was found.
The short, brown haired blue eyed boy spent a six year period serving
with the Royal Navy, before enlisting as an adult Musician on 5th
February 1906 in Gibraltar. He was assigned to the Plymouth Division
and went straight away to serve onboard HMS Victorious. It wasn’t
until his return to home soil that he undertook a six-month period
of training at the Royal Naval School of Music (Eastney), where he
studied the baritone and cello.
was promoted to Band Corporal in May 1907, before a posting to the
band onboard HMS New Zealand in July.
Henry met a young lady named Laura Louisa Williams while he was Devonport..
Shortly afterwards Henry married Laura on 26th August 1908 in Stoke
Damerel, Plymouth. Laura was actually born in Dartmouth in 1884 and
baptised in St Saviours Church. Ironically she was a daughter of William
Williams.. a former Royal Navy Cadet Servant, who presumably served
onboard the Royal Naval Officer twin training ships HMS’s Britannia
and Hindostan which were berthed in the River Dart. William later
changed over to become a Royal Naval Bandsman (pre 1901), they lived
in Foss Street in Dartmouth, before moving to Mount Street, then onto
Fore Street in Devonport.
BCpl Cooper earned
promotion on 1st January 1909 to Bandmaster 2nd Class, before taking
charge of the band onboard HMS Formidable for two years beginning
in April 1909. During this period, Henry and Laura became parents
to son Henry (1909) and daughter Dorothy (1910).
On 6th June 1911, Henry was tasked with leading the band on the battleship
HMS Dreadnought. A couple of weeks later, his ship was one of 165
vessels anchored at Spithead for HM King George V's Coronation Review,
in addition there were 18 foreign warships. The King and Queen arrived
at the great naval dockyard of Portsmouth during the morning of Saturday
24th June and embarked HM Yacht Victoria & Albert. In August 1912,
during his time onboard, he was awarded advancement to Bandmaster
saw Henry posted to HMS Albemarle for sixth-months. Following a refit,
Albemarle was recommissioned at Portsmouth to serve in the 4th Battle
On 11th November 1913, Henry took charge of the band onboard the cruiser
HMS Shannon. He would go on to spend nearly five years as Bandmaster
on the ship during the First World War, including seeing action at
the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916. HMS Shannon was on the unengaged
side of the fleet and did not fire her guns at all during the battle.
The ship spent several days after the battle searching for survivors
from her sister ship HMS Defence and other sunken ships. As a result
of his participation in the war, Bandmaster 1st Class H. Cooper became
the recipient of: 1914/15 Star, British War and Victory Medals...
collectively known as the Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.
Laura lived with
their children at her parents home in Devonport while Henry was away
during the early part of the war. As the war progressed and the children
grew older, Henry and Laura made their home at 49 Middlesex Road,
Milton in Portsmouth.
Henry Cooper sadly passed away whilst serving at the Royal Naval School
of Music, just two weeks after the armistice on 24th November 1918,
due to an unknown illness aged 37. Henry’s final resting place
can be found at Highland Road Cemetery in Portsmouth. Grave ref: H.
8. 2. The cemetery, near the barracks was opened in 1854 and contains
war graves of both world wars. The First World War burials are spread
throughout the cemetery.
Laura and their
grown up children were still resident in Middlesex Road in 1939. Their
son Henry lived until the ripe old age of 91, passing away in Portsmouth
courtesy of Roy Hallin