Bert COOPER (1896-1970)



Private: 2538 Bert COOPER.

Born: 4th September 1896. South West Rocks, New South Wales, Australia. (No Birth Cert)

Married: 1924. Auburn, New South Wales, Australia. Marriage Cert: 11623/1924.

Wife: Muriel Hanah Cooper. nee: Pascoe. (1900-1978)

Died: 1970 South West Rocks, N.S.W. Death Cert:36981/1970.

Father: Herbert Copper.

Mother: Jane Rachel Cooper. nee: Arthur. (18..-1953)


Bert Cooper enlisted with the 5th Reinforcements, 33rd Battalion AIF on the 1st of September 1916 and left Sydney on board SS "Port Napier" on the 17th of November 1916 and dismbarked at Devonport, England on the 29th of January 1917. Bert was marched to the 9th Training Battalion at the Durrington Army Camp the next day where he remained until he proceeded overseas via Folkestone, England for France on the 5th of April 1917.

'On the 16th April 1918, the rumours of a new German Offensive against Amiens seemed to be definitely confirmed. A German prisoner, taken by the French, volunteered the that Villers Bretonneux was to be attacked the next day. The 5th Australian Division, which had come line on the night of the 6th/7th April, and held the sector from Villers Bretonneux (inclusive) to the Somme canal was warned to be ready to retake the town, if captured by attack from the north; and other preparations and counter -preparations were made. About 4 A.M. on the 17th of April, Villers Bretonneux, Bois d'Aquenne, to the west of it and the village of Cachy, to the south, were heavily drenched for three hours with phosgene, mustard and irritant gases. But no assault followed. As soon as possible the local garrison, consisting of the 6/London(58 Dvn) and the 33rd Australian Battalion, was got out of the shelters in the town into the trenches around it. The gas shelling was repeated in the evening from 4 to 7 P.M. , next morning and on the following days, being increased so as to include Bois I'Abbe, but with greatly reduced results. Nevertheless it was impossible for anyone to move that area without feeling some ill-effects from the mustard gas, and there were, in all, 1,074 gas casualties.’

’The gassing of Villers Bretonneux seemed to point to the probability of its not being attacked, but by this time air photographs had revealed the signs of imminent operations; an increase in the number of enemy batteries had also been noticed, while the roads were being registered by German artillery. There were, however, also indications that the Albert sector might be the objective of an attack which might extend to Arras and Vimy Ridge. On the 21st there was much air fighting near the Somme, and the famous airman Richthofen was brought down.1. That night a man of the 4th Guard Division, captured by the 8th Dvn , disclosed the fact that his formation had just relieved the 9th Bavarian Reserve Division in front of Marcelcave , and would attack Villers Bretonneux at 3 A.M. on the 23rd. Counter-preparations were continued, and the German railway centres were bombed, particularly Chaulnes .2 'No infantry assault materialized on the 23rd, two deserters came in from the 77th Reserve Division, just arrived from Russia, which had entered the line on 20th, south of the 4th Guard Division, opposite Cachy, and the French captured a gunner of the Guard Ersatz Division opposite Hangard. All these men said that the relief of the line divisions by " storm " divisions had been completed :1. the infantry were ready to advance; the bombardment would begin early on the 24th and. last two and-a-quarter hours : and the attack would be assisted by new German tanks, which were already in position near the front line.2 It is from the fact that tanks were used to punch a hole in the British line on either side of Villers Bretonneux, and that, in consequence, the Germans gained possession of the town and ground on either side for a short time, that the fighting on the 24th derives its interest.’

(Bean; History of World War1)

Bert was one of the casulties of the attack and was Wounded in Action, 1st occassion on the 18th of April suffering from Gas Poisoning at VILLERS-BRETONNEUX and was evacuated to the Divisional Rest Station.

Gassed Australian soldiers awaiting treatment near Bois de L'Abbe outside Villers-Bretonneux 1918.

Note: 33rd Battalion Colour Patch on Corporal in foreground. (Eggs-a-Cook)

Bert was evacuated to England on the on the 25th of April where he was admitted to the 3rd Southern General Hospital at Oxford and from there he was transfered to the 3rd Auxillary Hospital. After nealy 6 months in England Bert prpceeded overseas again on the 17th of October 1918 where he remained until April 1919 when he was granted leave to work at the Keighley Gas and Oil Engine Company LTD, Imperial Works Keighley, where he worked from the 20th of May until the 20th of September 1919.

Bert returned to Australia on the 23rd of September 1919 on board HMAT A11 "Ascanius" and was discharged from the AIF on the 25th of December 1919.

Bert's British War Medal:65014 to PTE B COOPER. 33BN AIF was acquired in May 2008 and is now in the collection.

Family Information

Bert was a single 19 year old Farmer from Jerseyville, Macleay River, N.S.W. upon enlistment. His father was his next of kin who lived at Rainbow Beach, N.S.W. After the War Bert lived at "Woonah" Gregory Street, South West Rocks, N.S.W. and received his Repatriation Benefits from 11th of November 1960.

Berts parents were married in 1896 at South West Rocks, N.S.W. Marriage Cert:7522/1896. They had 6 children. Bert Cooper born 1896 at South West Rocks, N.S.W. (No Birth Cert) and died 1970 at South West Rocks, N.S.W. Death Cert: 36981/1970. Beatrice M Cooper born 1898 at South West Rocks, N.S.W. Birth Cert:4128/1898. Winniford I Cooper born 1900 at South West Rocks, N.S.W. Birth Cert:32304/1900. Pearlie M Cooper born 1903 at South West Rocks, N.S.W. Birth Cert:3899/1903. Ivy C Cooper born 1905 at South West Rocks, N.S.W. Birth Cert:4314/1905. Ruby O Cooper born 1907 at South West Rocks, N.S.W. Birth Cert:14275/1907.


Lieutenant: N290440 Bert COOPER

Bert served during World War 2 as a Lieutenant, enlisting on the 10th of April 1942 at Jerseyville and was discharged on the 30th of August 1944.

Military Records

Australian National Archives

Under Construction; 09/05/2008-28/01/2015.

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