Edward Cooper’s VC
The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Edward Cooper, born at Portrack, Stockton on Tees, was a 21 year old sergeant in the 12th Battalion, The King's Royal Rifle Corps in August 1917 when at Langemarck, Belgium, enemy machine-guns from a concrete blockhouse 250 yards away were holding up the advance of the battalion on the left and causing heavily casualties to Sergeant Cooper's own battalion. With four men he rushed towards the blockhouse and fired at the blockhouse from a close range of 100 yards but when the machine-guns were not silenced Sergeant Cooper ran straight at them and fired his revolver into an opening in the blockhouse. The machine-guns ceased firing and 45 Germans surrendered. It was not until 5 months later when Cooper was sitting in a cafe at King's Cross railway station that he happened to see a newspaper carrying a list of the new VCs. It was not until he had read and re-read the name and the regimental number that he realised that it was his own citation that he was reading.