Welcome to my blog......

The purpose of this blog is to remember the fallen heroes of the Great War, whose names are recorded on the memorial plaque situated in St Barnabas Church, New Whittington, Chesterfield.

To mark the centenary of World War 1 I aim to research all of the men on the memorial. I hope to ensure that the brave men who gave their lives for their country 100 years ago are remembered and each man's story told.

I would love to hear from anyone who may have information regarding the men; photos, letters or passed down memories. Any descendents are most welcome to contact me and I will provide copies of the research that I have undertaken.

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left to grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them"

For The Fallen,
Laurence Binyon September 1914.

Saturday, 8 August 2015



Chunuk Bair (New Zealand Memorial) CWGC

Private 10/1448

3rd Wellington Regiment

Missing presumed dead 8th August 1915



Ernest Cooper had left New Whittington prior to the outbreak of World War 1, however his name was thankfully added to the St Barnabas Church Memorial to ensure that years on he is remembered by the community.  The Cooper family were to move far away from the little village of New Whittington, to both New Zealand and Canada.


Ernest was the second child of John Palfreyman Cooper and Fanny Cooper.  He was born on 25th April 1890 in New Whittington, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire. 

His father John Palfreyman Cooper was a well respected member of the Whittington community.  John worked for the Midland Railway as a locomotive engine driver.  The couple had one daughter when Ernest was born; named Jessie she was born around 1888.  Another son followed Ernest, born on 6th May 1894 named Harold.

According to the 1911 census John and Fanny Cooper only had the three children.  They were living at 99 Handley Road, New Whittington.  Jessie was 23 years old and worked as an elementary school teacher, Harold was 16 years old and worked as an apprentice cabinet maker.

Ernest was no longer living in the family home in 1911, he had travelled to New Zealand before the outbreak of WW1 in 1914.  Where or what Ernest was doing in between the 1901 census and December 1914 is not known at this time.

Ernest's adventure....

Service record Private E Cooper 10/1448

Ernest was living at Boundry Road, Wanganui on 15th December 1914 when he enlisted to serve with the New Zealand 3rd Wellington Regiment.  He had been working for the Wanganui Borough Council as a labourer prior to this date.

Ernest's war....

Ernest was now known as Private Cooper 10/1448, serving with "B" Coy of the 3rd Wellington Regiment.  Ernest had a very short time to learn the basic skills a soldier would need. He was attached to the No17 Transport group from 14th February 1915 until he embarked for Egypt on 27th March 1915.

Vitals for Ernest Cooper, Service Record
The service record tells that Ernest was tall chap at 6ft 2inches in height.  He had grey eyes, a fair complexion and light brown hair.  He was also a member of the Wanganui Defence Rifle Club on.

Ernest was admitted to the hospital ship whilst serving in Egypt from 7th May 1915 until 23rd May 1915.  He would then return to his comrades in the theatre of war.

The Wellington Regiment were part of a major offensive in Turkey which unfolded on 6th August 1915.  The Wellington Regiment were part of the attack named the Battle of Sari Bair.  The attack was carried out to capture Chunuk Bair.  The New Zealand Force commenced their advance in the early hours of 8th August to find that their target area was deserted, the Ottoman's had moved out during the night. 

Unfortunately peace did not reign long and the Turkish were soon back in place and began to attack the allies to regain Chunuk Bair.  The intense battle carried on for another 24 hours.  The New Zealand Force sustained heavy casualties.

Ernest was reported as missing in action and presumed dead on 8th August 1915.  Ernest was 26 years old.

Ernest is remembered at the Chunuk Bair Memorial, Panel 19.  He has no known grave.  The Chunuk Bair Memorial (New Zealand)commemorates those involved in the Battle of Sari Bair and other local operations.  It contains the names of over 850 men.  Interestingly the Chunuk Bair Cemetery where the memorial is located also contains 632 burials of Commonwealth soldiers killed between the dates of 6th and 8th August 1915.  The Turkish forces had buried these soldiers but only ten of the men are identified.  So it may be that Ernest is one of the 622 unnamed burials at the site also.

He was awarded the following medals for his service; 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Life went on....

Jessie Cooper, the sister of Ernest left England shortly after the 1911 census.  She arrived in Canada in 1911 and married Robert Merle Halliday on 17th December 1913 at Sandwick, British Columbia.

The couple had at least one child; a son was born in 1920 named Thomas. 

In 1921 the family were still living in Sandwick.  Jessie was aged 35 years old.  Her husband Robert was 45 years old and is a farmer.  Thomas was aged just 11 months.

A few years later in 1924 the 23rd August edition of the Derbyshire Times back in England contained an article telling of the terrible accident in which Jessie and Robert had been involved.  The couple were travelling by car along with her brother in law, friend from New Whittington Mrs Cartwright and two children.  The car hit a freight train at a level crossing.  Jessie, Mrs Cartwright and the children were all badly burnt.  Robert suffered from 3 broken ribs.

Jessie died on 26th April 1936 at Sandwick, British Columbia, Canada. 

Harold Cooper also travelled to British Columbia a year later in 1912.  He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 3rd August 1916.  Known as Private 1037626.

Harold Cooper WW1 service records

Harold had worked as a logger prior to WW1.  He was also a tall chap at 6ft 3 1/2 inches he would have been well suited to the job. 

After WW1 Harold can be found on the Canadian 1921 census.  He to is living at Sandwick, British Columbia and he is employed in the farming industry. 

There are two other members of the Cooper household in 1921; Harold's parents John and Fanny Cooper.

John & Fanny Cooper emigrated to Canada in 1919.  John had retired from the Midland Railway Company.  Their only remaining living children had also both emigrated over the previous years.  New Whittington probably held nothing for the Coopers to remain there any longer.

As far as I can see John and Fanny remained in Canada until their deaths.  Death certificates would need to be purchased to confirm their deaths; there is a death for Fanny Cooper on 14th June 1937 and John on 16th September 1940.

If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on Ernest Cooper or his family please do either leave comments via the pen icon below or drop me an email.

Ref and further reading -

Census - British & Canadian www.ancestry.co.uk
Parish Registers

Military -
*New Zealand Service Records - http://archives.govt.nz/world-war-one  New Zealand WW1 service records can be viewed free of charge at the web address.
*Canadian Service Records - www.ancestry.co.uk

The Wellington Regiment http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH1-Well.html

Battle of Sari Bair http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/saribair.htm
New Zealand Battle of Sari Bair http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-CowMaor-t1-body-d4-d2.html


  1. Hi, the death registrations for both Fanny (1937) and John Cooper (1940) are available free at www.familysearch.org. Almost all open access BMD registrations for British Columbia, Canada are on-line free, either at the BC Archives website or on FamilySearch. I am the Editor of the British Columbia Genealogical Society (BCGS) and will share your post on the BCGS Facebook pages and on Twitter. With your permission, I'd also include this as a query in our Sept. journal. Just let me know. (Deadline is this coming week.)

    1. Hi, thank you for your suggestions. I have replied by email so hopefully you will have received it. Thank you for your offer to add a search for Ernest Cooper's story in your journal, that would be most helpful. Best wishes, Louise