War hero's WW1 medal to go home

Army historians are searching for descendants of a First World War hero to return a medal he won more than a century ago.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 21st July 2017, 4:47 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 11:56 am
Museum curator Jane Davies
Museum curator Jane Davies

Private Alfred Cooper was so badly wounded at Ypres in Belgium in 1915 that he had to be medically discharged with permanent leg injuries.

Now his 1914-18 War Medal has turned up at the Lancashire Infantry Museum in Preston where curators have launched an appeal to find his family so they can hand it back.

The only information they have about Pte Cooper is he enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment, based at Fulwood, in October 1914, two months after war broke out.

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His regimental service number was 21053 and he left Lancashire to join up with his battalion on the Western Front in France in May 1915. Two months later he was in Belgium where the 1st Battalion were involved in heavy fighting to defend the Ypres Salient.

On July 6, he was in trenches at Pilckem Ridge when he was shot, suffering compound fractures to his left leg. He was evacuated to Britain by hospital ship and spent the whole of 2016 either in hospital or recuperating.

The injury was so severe that he was discharged from the Army in January 1917 as no longer fit for service.

Museum curator Jane Davies said: “We often receive medals donated by families who wish to see them preserved and displayed with the respect they deserve.

“On this occasion, before donating it to the museum, the current owner of Pte Cooper’s medal wished to make one last effort to return his medal to his family, if they wish to have it. We fully support this.

“Medals should always remain with the family until there is no longer any interest, after which we are very pleased to care for them.”