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Chaplain George Smith, Rorke's Drift--signed.
(Isandula Collection)
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 Private William Cooper

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Mr M. Cooper

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PostSubject: Private William Cooper   Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:13 pm

Hello to you all, I am not yet sure if I am posting this message correctly, but no doubt someone will advise me about this.

I have been doing a little research about private William Cooper as it has always been thought in the family that he was some relation of ours. During my research I came accross the Argus newspaper telling about a blue plaque being unvailed outside of his former home in Worrthing. On reading the story, it was stated that he was at the battle of Isandhlwana, but ordered away before the over running of the camp by the Zulus. He apparently made his way to Rorkes Drift to give the warning, and fought with the others to defend the post. I see that he was with F company of the 2nd Btln 24th (2nd Warwickshire) regiment, and from what I can gather, F coy was at Isandhlwana under Captain Mostyn. If the Argus is correct, then private William Cooper fought at both battles and survived.

As many of you seem to be 'well clued up' on this forum, I thought that I would make an enquiry about this man to see if any of you can pass on any information about him.

I may point out that all my side of the Cooper family come from Lancashire, however, we do have relations in Warwickshire, and also there are others dotted around the country, but trying to locate them is proving to be more of a problem than we thought, but we will keep trying.

So far I have found three Coopers who where at Isandhlwana, unfornunately all of them were killed in the battle. These were another William Cooper of the Royal Artillery, a Sgt T. Cooper, 1st Btln 24th foot and a Pvt H. Cooper, 1st Btln 24th foot. I don't know if any of these men were related in any way, and I suppose I never will, but it would be nice to find out.

Anyway, I do hope that some of you can throw some light on Private William Cooper 2453 F coy 2nd Btln 24th ( 2nd Warwickshire) regiment, I would appreciate any information.

Many thanks

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PostSubject: Re: Private William Cooper   Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:41 pm

Have you not tried the RRW Museum ? If I recall right, the T. Cooper killed at Isandhlwana was in some way related to Zulu War historian Ian Knight.
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1879graves

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PostSubject: Re: Private William Cooper   Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:45 pm

Hi Mr M

Welcome to the forum.

This is the information I have on William.

COOPER, William. 2-24/2453 Private.
Date of attestation not traced. Posted to 2nd Bn 24th Foot at Warley, January 1873. Transferred to F Company. Sent to Helpmakaar as time expired 28/3/1879. Appeared before a discharge board at Pietermaritzburg. Sent to Netley Hospital 1/2/1880; subsequently transferred to the Army Reserve. Attended the Northern Tattoo at Gateshead 1934 and appeared in the arena with Bourne, Saxty, Jobbins and Wood, former comrades at Rorke's Drift. Died, age 86 years, at 82 Cranmere Road, Worthing, Sussex 19/2/1942. His wife, to whom he had been married for 60 years, found him in their kitchen with his head in the gas oven. Dr W.G. Pitt said he 'Found in a post-mortem examination that there was an affliction of an eye, a large sore on the head, both lungs showed signs of tuberculosis and there was evidence of fairly recent pleurisy. Death was due to carbon monoxide poisoning.' The Deputy Coroner recording a verdict of suicide while the balance of the mind was disturbed said he 'Thought that Mr Cooper, suffering from the things revealed in the medical evidence, had become affected by depression' (newspaper report, Regimental Archive).
Served in South Africa. Served in the Kaffir War 1878. Served in the Zulu War 1879, a Private in F Company, he had been sent to Rorke's Drift with a ration parry 21/1/1879 (Regimental Journal, October 1942).

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PostSubject: Re: Private William Cooper   Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:48 pm

Hi Mr M

Have you seen Volume 5 of ‘Legacy of the Rorke’s Drift Heroes’, there is a Biographical Tribute to William Cooper.

http://www.rorkesdriftlegacy.com/index.html
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PostSubject: Private William Cooper   Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:39 am

Hello Colin J

Many thanks for the reply

I have been in touch with the curator at the rrw museum, and am waiting for any information.

Hello 1879graves

And also many thanks for the welcome and the information you provided, very interesting.

On reading this, it would appear that The Argus newspaper could have got it wrong about him being at Isandhlwana, but he was at Rorkes Drift at the time of the battle. It seems that a lot of the men that fought there were effected by what they had seen and been through (and who wouldn't be), reading about what happened to some of them afterwards makes for some depressing reading. What a pity that more wasn't done to try to help them at the time, but that was 1879, I don't think they would have had much 'counselling' in those days.

I have heard about the volumes regarding Rorkes Drift, but no, I have not seen any of them, and thank you for the link.

Best Regards.

Martin.
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